Monday, July 30, 2012

Monaco House

On Saturday, TSH Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene officially opened "Monaco House" in London to serve the officials and athletes in London for the Olympic games but which is also open to the public for all athletic enthusiasts. Monaco House features special items covering all of the Olympic games from 1936 to 2008.
And, showing how the Princely couple can get along with anyone, Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene posed for a photograph with Piers Morgan who was interviewing them for his show on CNN. Here's hoping it goes better than that last CBS Morning interview (though I didn't think it was near as bad as everyone else seemed to -uncomfortable answers to stupid questions).

Saturday, July 28, 2012

At the Olympics

Excuse us...

Yes! Our seats!

Dude! How's it goin'?

Here comes Team Monaco!

And meeting with some Olympic veterans, the former King and Queen of Greece

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Princely Cars Up for Auction

His late Serene Highness Prince Rainier III was a great fan of automobiles and accumulated quite an extensive car collection. It would pale in comparison to that of Jay Leno, but quite extensive nonetheless, some 100 cars which have been on display in their own museum in Monaco ever since. Times do tend to change though (much as I dislike it) and it seems a "reorganization" of the car collection is underway. As a part of this, HSH Prince Albert II is putting some 38 of these vehicles up for auction. Are you in the market for a new car? If so, you could own a Fiat 500, a 76 VW Beetle, a Chevy Camaro, a Porsche 928 S Coupe, a 1983 Mecedes-Benz 500 SEC AMG, a 69 Siata Spring roadster and even a 64 Dodge Dart -if the price is right of course. On the subject of the auction, Prince Albert II said that, "The Princes of Monaco have always been passionate about motor cars. Prince Pierre initiated the Grand Prix in 1929, and competed in it, in a Torpedo. My father, Prince Rainier, took over the development of the race, which has today become one of the most prestigious events in the world. He also supported the Historic Grand Prix, which was established in 1997 and has enjoyed enormous success. Together, we established a private collection of classic cars which is particularly close to my heart. I now wish to add some new models to the collection."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pierre's Legal Counter-Punch

Life has been going on for Pierre Casiraghi since all the trouble in New York. He attended the Cannes film festival, had a nice vacation with family and his lovely Beatrice on the Pacha III, took in some athletics competitions with his uncle Albert and recently was part of the 'Classic Sailing Week' in Cadiz, Spain. However, while Hock (the guy who smashed his face) has pled "not guilty" and goes ahead for trial, it was recently made known that Pierre is suing the owner of the place where it all happened, the Double Seven club in the now elite old Meat Packing District of the Big Apple. Jeffrey Jah, owner of the club, is being sued for negligence for serving alcohol to the visably intoxicated Adam Hock before he attacked Pierre and his friends. As usual, Hock's lawyers say it was he who was attacked by Pierre and his friends but, also as usual, that sounds a little odd considering Hock left in a police car and Pierre left in an ambulance. Hock hardly seems like the injured party here and, although the lawsuite has raised a few eyebrows, bar owners are not supposed to serve alcohol to people who are already drunk and many have been held accountable in civil court cases in the United States for doing so, particularly if the drunk person went on to commit a more serious crime like injuring someone in a drunk driving accident or, let's say, getting in a drunken brawl with someone half their size and nearly breaking their jaw. Just for an example. Still, I can see where this might be a little controversial. Should it have stayed only with the case of New York against Hock or is Pierre justified in this new civil case? Can he expect justice or should he have just left it alone? Either way, it will be for the court to decide.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Princess Stephanie at Fight AIDS Monaco Gala

On July 9, HSH Princess Stephanie attended (of course) the Fight AIDS Monaco gala. The theme of the gala was "fiesta" and the dress code was "Gypsy" -hence the Princess' very fetching off-the-shoulder number. Everyone looked to be all-smiles and all for a good cause.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New Stamp for Athletes

Recently, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and Mr. Lamine Diack, President of the International Federation of Athletics, unveiled a new Monegasque stamp to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the IAAF. The organization was created in 1912 after the Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. The official headquarters of the organization moved to the Principality of Monaco in 1993 and the Sovereign Prince serves as the Honorary President of the IAAF and as President of the Monegasque Federation of Athletics. The new stamp was revealed at a special cocktail party held at the Princely Palace.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Princely Couple

TSH Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene recently celebrated their one-year anniversary but, as we know, they've been keeping steady company for much longer than that...
What do you think?

They look like the Monegasque flag!

It's possible we may just be 'too cool' for this scene

Don't make eye contact, whatever you do

We're awesome, we know it

Wait till you see this girl jump

Don't look now, someone's taking my picture

They party together...

...and pray together. As every couple should.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Facts About Bastille Day

Another year, another Bastille Day in the (fifth) French Republic. I hope no one gets the wrong impression from my somber attitude on 14 July. The Principality of Monaco and the French Republic are good friends these days, everyone gets along and no one wants any unpleasantness. Many people also have the attitude that there’s no such thing as a bad time to have a party. However, I cannot condone such festivities on a day like this. Aside from all the horror the Revolution visited on France itself, the chain of events that started with the storming of the Bastille did no good for anyone in Monaco either, least of all the House of Grimaldi. There is no need to go into all of that in detail, we have covered it all before; the Grimaldis being stripped of their French titles, Prince Honore III being deposed, Monaco annexed to France, many going to prison (even the little future Sovereign Prince Florestan) and most horribly the wife of Prince Joseph of Monaco being among the last to be sent to the guillotine. But, in France itself, it is worth remembering on a day like today just how little most people know about the actual facts surrounding the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution.

The Kingdom of France was, undoubtedly, at a low point at the time. The economy was in shambles, hunger and poverty were widespread, too many in the aristocracy were living lives of indulgence far away from the people they should have been looking after and many in the clergy were more concerned with their own comfort than with administering the sacraments and teaching their people. However, the two young people at the pinnacle of power in France, His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, were not blind or uncaring to these problems. Both had each been working in their own way to solve the immense problems they had so recently inherited. King Louis XVI enacted many common sense policies to alleviate the suffering of his people. He cut expenses at Versailles, cut government expenditures overall, refused to go deeper into debt and refused to raise taxes. He ended the government monopoly on grain which allowed for lower prices that more people could afford. He taxed wealthy landowners for the first time and, though he was not required to, paid his own share as any other landowner would. Likewise, Queen Marie Antoinette helped to educate poor children, had her own kitchen opened to the poor, cut down on lavish parties (yes, despite all you’ve probably heard) and simplified her own wardrobe in an effort to make frugality chic.

Unfortunately, the accumulated problems of decades could not be overcome quickly and the radical firebrands were doing everything possible to mislead, misinform and radicalize the public while spreading the most vicious lies they could think up about their King and Queen. For example, partly in an effort to pay for the war against Great Britain on behalf of the United States, King Louis XVI enacted a tax reform which raised revenues but lowered taxes for the poor. Revolutionary propagandists played their game of misinformation, only telling people that the King would be collecting more money (not less from the poor) and implying or stating outright that this was all for his own enrichment rather than paying for the needs of the country. King Louis had done everything in his power to be reasonable and accommodating. Early in his reign he had encouraged local parliaments and he recalled the Estates-General. However, the firebrands only increased their agitation, whipping the mob into a frenzy and blaming the King for ills he had absolutely no control over. Finally, someone pointed to the prison-fortress of the Bastille as the imposing symbol of absolute royal power that had to be wiped out.

On July 14, 1789 a Parisian mob stormed the Bastille, which was actually nothing like what they had been told or what most people today think it was. Naturally, it looked very harsh and foreboding from the outside, but inside the prison conditions were not terrible, certainly no worse than any other prison of the time and probably better than most. The fact was that there was practically no one in the Bastille. The popular portrayal would have one believe that the Bastille was crowded with the poor, tortured victims of an autocratic monarch. In fact, it was almost empty of prisoners. The only people present to be liberated were four forgers, two lunatics and a pervert who had been locked up at the request of his own family. The real victims were the unfortunate men who just happened to be doing their job guarding the prison. All 120 soldiers were brutally massacred by the hatchet-wielding mob and the governor had his head cut off and stuck on a pike. This was the bloody and inglorious start of the horrific bloodbath known as the French Revolution.

Monaco was, of course, much more fortunate than France. Most of the family survived, Monaco was ultimately given back her independence and the Sovereign Prince was restored to his rightful throne. The French monarchy was restored as well but, sadly, the Revolution had done too much damage in France. The mentality of the country had changed and the moral core of the country would never be quite the same again. The traditional monarchy would fall, replaced by another Kingdom of France that tried to reach an accomodation with the revolutionary mindset only to be undone in 1848 and all of this in between the two efforts at empire led by the famous Napoleon and his later nephew. It says something profound that, despite some minor problems, the Principality of Monaco in all that time has continued on in peace and ever-increasing prosperity, secure in the traditions of a centuries old monarchy led by a family everyone knows and loves while France had more revolutions, the Paris Commune and is currently on their fifth effort at a republic. Monaco has long depended on the protection of France but these facts, perhaps, suggest that France might benefit from taking a lesson from the little principality on her southern coast.

Vive le Roi!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Enthronement of a Prince

It was on this day in 2005, some time after succeeded his great, beloved father, that HSH Prince Albert II had his formal enthronement as Sovereign Prince of Monaco. It is at such a time that one can truly appreciate the benefits of having monarchy, which are not always so easy to explain, it has to be felt. HSH Prince Rainier III was such a grand and familiar figure, his loss was truly the end of an era and one of the greatest reigns in the centuries-long history of the House of Grimaldi. Yet, the presence of Prince Albert II made everyone feel that things were going to be okay. Everyone knew him, the world had watched him grow up, he had been educated, trained and prepared and simply his presence was a reassurance to his people that life would go on, that everything was under control and that Monaco, as ever, would endure, as it has for over seven hundred years under the watchful eyes of the Lords and Princes of the House of Grimaldi.

Here we see the new Sovereign Prince taking the salute of his guard, and catching attention is little Princess Alexandra looking adorable in her Monegasque costume. Looking back at photos of the enthronement ceremonies, one cannot help but notice how much things have changed. Prince Ernst August was still in the picture, Charlotte was still with Alex and there was no Princess Charlene. The sisters though were as true to form as they always have been; Princess Caroline a dignified tower of strength, Princess Stephanie worrying about her big brother like a mother hen. Many things change, but some things always stay the same.
Long live the Sovereign Prince!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Princely Visit to Germany

TSH Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene paid a formal visit to the Federal Republic of Germany. Above we see the Princely couple with President Joachim Gauck and his (ahem) "domestic partner" Daniela Schadt (he has been separated from his wife since 1991 but never divorced). The Sovereign Prince was also greeted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The details of what is discussed on this meetings is never made public but I can't help but wonder if the Germans (who largely fund the money-hole they call the EU) asked Prince Albert for any economic advice. They could certainly do much worse than to imitate the low-taxes and pro-growth policy of Monaco. Below we see the Sovereign Prince doing what visiting heads of state must always do: reviewing a special guard of honor from the Bundeswehr.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cocktails at the Palace

Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene attended a special concert, held at the Princely Palace, to benefit the Prince Albert II Foundation. Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater was the star of the show and the Princely couple met her afterwards for cocktails at a private reception.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Yes, Andrea is Engaged!

It has been all over the "news" that Andrea Casiraghi, oldest son of HRH Princess Caroline of Hanover and currently second-in-line to the Monegasque throne (until such time as Albert II and Charlene do their duty) is set to marry his girlfriend of seven years Tatiana Santo Domingo, a Brazilian-Colombian, U.S.-born socialite and heiress who was introduced to Andrea many years ago by his little sister Charlotte. The rumors have come and gone more than once over the years and when word first started to leak out this week, some (such as yours truly) were not inclined to take it seriously. However, it has been confirmed by the Princely Palace, though they have released no information about the details of the wedding (no 'when', no 'where' and I think we all know why ;-)) but it is expected to take place some time next year. Congratulations are certainly in order for the happy couple, and though there have been false reports before, I think most of us knew this day was coming. Andrea and Tatiana have been together for a long time now, they have survived some nasty rumors, good times and bad times and have always just seemed very comfortable with each other. Tatiana landed quite a catch and I think Andrea made a fine choice as well. She's very intelligent, well educated, knows business and she's very lovely. We wish them all the best and look forward to a stylish Casiraghi wedding!

Monday, July 2, 2012

One Year Anniversary

It has been one year today that TSH Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene said their "I do's" in the courtyard of the Princely Palace amidst throngs of well-wishers, royal guests and the extended family of all Monegasque. How time flies! The Sovereign Prince was asked about his feelings on his first anniversary and said that, "We are really happy and I have the feeling that it happened yesterday. I am very proud of what my wife has accomplished this past year, creating Her foundation dedicated to children and sport, and being so involved in her new role in Monaco . She is fulfilling a difficult mission in a perfect way and I thank Her for that".

Indeed so. Princess Charlene has, I think it is safe to say, become an accepted and beloved part of the Principality and member of the House of Grimaldi. We wish the Princely Couple a very happy anniversary with many, many more to come. And, on a day like this, it is appropriate to take a look back and remember the happy occasion itself. Here is a photographic post from one year ago today The Princely Wedding - At Last!

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