Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Year in Review

So, what was 2010 like for the Princely Family of Monaco? Well, here it is in a nutshell: In January, Prince Albert talked about the environment. Prince Ernst August V of Hanover was photographed frolicking in the surf of Thailand with his paramour but Princess Caroline still testified on his behalf in Germany. Prince Albert talked about the environment, sent emergency aid to Haiti after the disastrous earthquake there and flew solo on St Devote Day. The UN declared 2010 International Biodiversity Year and Prince Albert talked about the environment. In February, Princess Stephanie turned 45 (hard to believe I know), the Monegasque fire brigade got a new commander and Prince Albert talked about the environment. The Prince and Charlene Wittstock attended the Winter Olympics in British Columbia where the Prince handed out medals to the winners of the Alpine Skiing Men’s Super-G event. Charlotte Casiraghi and boyfriend Alex Dellal attended the Love Ball London to benefit the Naked Heart Foundation and rumors of an engagement between the two again proved unfounded.

On March 4, Albert’s daughter Jazmin Grace Grimaldi turned 18. The Prince honored His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I for his efforts at improving relations between the Roman Catholic and East Orthodox Churches and Princess Caroline oversaw a charity fair in Monaco. Her husband, the Prince of Hanover was fined $270,000 for slapping a hotel owner in Kenya and Prince Albert paid a formal visit to the Republic of San Marino before participating in the 5th World Stars Ski Event in Turin. Princess Caroline stole the show at the annual Rose Ball which had a Moroccan theme as part of increasingly close relations between the two countries on opposite shores of the Mediterranean. In April the Sovereign Prince appointed his first Minister of State after new agreements took effect putting that power in his hands rather than those of the French government as had effectively been the case previously. Prince Albert visited Portugal, talked about the environment and congratulated the winners of the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters Tournament, presided over by cousin Elizabeth-Anne de Massy. The Credit Foncier Monaco Bank was robbed of 100,000 euros and Prince Albert welcomed the King and Queen of Sweden to Monaco for the 59th World Bade-Powell Fellowship event.

Pauline Ducruet celebrated her “Sweet 16” on May 4 and Prince Albert, Charlene and the Casiraghi trio were on hand for the Formula One Grand Prix. The Casiraghis hit the best parties at the Cannes Film Festival and the Prince visited his former ship, the French aircraft carrier “Joan of Arc” on which he served during his military service as the vessel was retired from service. Princess Caroline visited the new mommies at the Princess Grace Hospital for Mother’s Day. June saw Prince Albert talking about the environment, opening a whole week dedicated to environmental awareness in Monaco. The Prince and Charlene attended the 50th anniversary of the Monte Carlo TV Festival and traveled to South Africa to attend the World Cup. Jazmin Grace Grimaldi graduated with honors from high school and after attending the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden to Daniel Westling in Stickholm, Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock announced their own, long awaited engagement.

In July Princess Stephanie opened La Maison de Vie to care for victims of HIV/AIDS. Prince Albert talked about the environment and signed new fiscal transparency agreements with a number of countries. Pauline Ducruet competed in diving competitions in Finland and Princess Stephanie welcomed Prince Albert and Charlene to the gala dinner for her charity Fight AIDS Monaco. Prince Albert, Charlene and Princess Stephanie also made a ‘splash’ at the 62nd Red Cross Ball which had a luxury cruise theme. In August the Prince and Charlene visited the United States, checking in with a friend in Missouri and touring the “King’s castle” at Graceland. Monaco signed on to a joint Catholic and Orthodox effort to defend the Christian heritage of Europe and Pauline Ducruet competed in diving competitions in Singapore with her father, mother, siblings and uncle Albert cheering her on. The Prince talked about the environment and sent a financial aid package to Pakistan after devastating floods hit that country.

September saw Charlotte Casiraghi back in uniform as “Godmother” of Public Safety for the 50th anniversary off the Maritime Police Force of Monaco, Prince Albert and Princess Caroline opened the new National Museum of Monaco and the Prince was honored in New York City for his environmentalism and commitment to sport. He attended the Monaco Yacht Show, honoring a particularly “green” yacht and, yes, talked about the environment. Prince Albert went to India in October for the opening of the British Commonwealth Games, joined Princess Stephanie in Shanghai for the World Expo and later Charlene joined the Prince for the first time on an official visit when the couple traveled to Japan, meeting the Imperial Family and where Albert talked about the environment. In November, Charlotte Casiraghi and Beatrice Borromoeo strutted their stuff on the red carpet at the Rome Film Festival, Princess Caroline handed out the Princess Grace Awards in New York and Prince Albert celebrated five years on the throne of Monaco. Charlene made her first appearance on the balcony with the family on National Day, Louis Ducruet turned 18 and word came that Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit Monaco in early 2012. Finally, in December, Princess Stephanie continued her efforts, in person, on radio and television to raise awareness of and ease the suffering of AIDS victims. Princess Caroline attended the International Night of Childhood charity event at Versailles and Charlene joined the Grimaldi siblings in the official Christmas festivities for the first time this year. Finally, Princess Antoinette passed a milestone in Grimaldi family history when she turned 90 years old.

And that, my friends, was the Princely Family in 2010 in a nutshell. I hope you had a good year, I appreciate you keeping up with the blog and my sympathies to Mr. Mann, whoever you are. So long 2010!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Victor Amadeus II of Savoy

Having recently noted the anniversary of the tragically premature passing of HSH Princess Louise-Hippolyte of Monaco it should be noted that her death was a sad occasion for many people far beyond the boundaries of Monaco. One of those who certainly took notice was Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy. Born in Turin in 1666 he was quite advanced in age for the time when he became infatuated with the lovely and lively Princess Louise Hippolyte, Duchess of Valentinois. During his life he would be, at various times, King of Sicily and King of Sardinia as well as Duke of Savoy. In 1684 he married Princess Anne-Marie of Orleans, daughter of Prince Philippe of France (brother of King Louis XIV) and Princess Henrietta of England. The early years of his reign saw a crackdown on the Protestants in his domain but this was eventually eased up when political considerations forced him into an alliance with the Protestant Dutch and English. Whereas Savoy had previously been very friendly with France, Victor Amadeus II broke with this tradition and fought with Empire against France in the Nine Years War and War of Spanish Succession. Though Monaco itself was neutral this effectively put him at odds with the towering Prince Antoine of Monaco (father of Louise-Hippolyte) who was very pro-French and fought in the service of the King of France.

His first wife died in 1728 and in 1730 he married a local woman, beneath his station but with the permission of Pope Clement XII. However, even though his first wife was very devoted Victor Amadeus II was not a faithful husband. He would certainly have jumped at the chance of an affair with Princess Louise-Hippolyte as well, but she was not too wild on the idea. She found the old gentleman rather boring and in any event was herself quite devoted to her own husband. Victor Amadeus liked to drop in on the princess at Monaco for “surprise” visits but Louise-Hippolyte caught on and proved too clever for him. With her extensive social network she was instantly informed as soon as he set foot in Nice, which surely meant he would then be on his way to Monaco. As secretive as he thought he was being, he was watched the entire time and the Princess knew every step of his progress. He never quite figured out how it happened that as soon as he crossed the Monegasque border for one of this “unexpected” visit’s the local artillery would fire off an earth-shattering salute.

In any event, Victor Amadeus, influential figure though he was, did not have a very happy end to his life. In 1731 Princess Louise-Hippolyte of Monaco died, which certainly distressed him, and he was not to live very much longer himself. The year before he had abdicated in favor of his son Charles Emanuel III. However, he later tried to go back on his decision and his son had him arrested. He suffered a stroke and blamed his wife for his misfortunes. He died in 1732, only a year after the early loss of the Princess of Monaco he so wished to have.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Two Events in Grimaldi History

It was on this day in 1731 that HSH Princess Louise-Hippolyte passed away, leaving the throne of Monaco to her husband HSH Prince Jacques I, begining the Mantignon line of the Grimaldi family. However, Monaco was never a good fit for the prince and he soon abdicated in favor of his young son HSH Prince Honore III. He then retired to his more familiar haunts of Paris and Versailles. His former home is now the residence of the French prime minister.
It was also on this day in 1983 that HSH Princess Caroline of Monaco married Italian businessman Stefano Casiraghi. Although their marriage would be cut short by tragedy their years together were thankfully happy ones and Princess Caroline has stated more than once that Stefano was her true 'one and only'. Stefano died in 1990 while boat racing but he gave the Princess three wonderful children; Andrea, Pierre and Charlotte.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy 90th Birthday!

Today marks the 90th anniversary of H.S.H. Princess Antoinette of Monaco, elder sister of the late Prince Rainier III. Mad for Monaco wishes Her Serene Highness a very happy birthday on this very special, even historic, occasion. As it happens it was Albert I who was Sovereign Prince when Princess Antoinette was born.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Prince and the Pest

Some might recall a moment in the news last year when a man claiming to be a former intelligence agent sued HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco in California over an alleged breach of contract, making all sorts of lascivious accusations along with but quite unrelated to his claim for tens of thousands of dollars. Of course the case was immediately thrown out as no court in California would have jurisdiction over the Prince of Monaco who is also protected from prosecution by sovereign immunity as a sitting head of state. I said as much at the time in my own comment on the spat which attracted the attention of the accuser. At the time I did not believe it was actually the person in question (thinking he would have better things to do than troll forums and blogs to call names of anyone who questioned the merits of his case) but I was certainly wrong there. Not only was it the actual person (I use the term lightly) in question but it was recently brought to my attention that he has been obsessively following my little blog on Monaco ever since, hanging on my every word.

Evidently this extremely thin-skinned person adopted your humble blogger as his secondary arch-enemy after the Prince of Monaco himself. Showing how valid his claim to be an “intelligence agent” was, he tried without success to uncover my “true” identity. I can only feel a little sorry for whoever “Joe Mann” is for enduring the juvenile name-calling of this individual on the belief (or intentional lie) that he is me (well, if he’s not my man he must be Joe Mann I guess). However, aside from being your humble blogger’s most devoted “fan” he has also evidently made it his primary occupation to slander the Prince of Monaco. Coming out with new tirades and conspiracies on a daily basis he has accused Monaco’s Albie of everything but stealing the Lindbergh baby. Recently he has managed to gain a few mentions on internet news sites for accusing Prince Albert II of taking bribes as a member of the International Olympic Committee, sending a letter stating such to the president of the organization (which is probably the only reason anyone mentioned it at all).

The IOC, of course, is not even bothering to investigate such a ridiculous claim. Given the history of this man he could hardly be taken as a source worthy of serious consideration. There is the fact that he has a grudge (some would say obsession bordering on a severe case of the notgay’s) against the Prince, there is also the fact that Prince Albert is hardly someone liable to take bribes considering that he makes more money each day than he could spend tomorrow and finally there is the fact that this same individual has accused Prince of Albert of every sort of malicious deed imaginable, being involved in every sinister global conspiracy and being associated with everyone from the Russian mob to Islamic terrorists. Given that, (and the fact that even by saying this on my dusty little corner of the internet I can guarantee that this man will respond vociferously to me as he does my every utterance -he may in fact be the most religiously devoted reader I have) no matter what the facts or allegations of this case entail it will be dismissed as no more than the ravings of a captain of the tin foil hat brigade and left at that. So far, the Prince of Monaco has considered this crank unworthy of response. Given that his wedding is coming up next year and that there will be an historic papal visit the year after, this course will probably be continued no matter how irritating such ravings might be.
(a double post from my primary blog The Mad Monarchist)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Charlene Joins Christmas Traditions

For the first time, Princess-to-be Charlene Wittstock joined the Grimaldi siblings for the traditional gift giving to the children of Monaco. At the Christmas party at the palace Charlene joined husband-to-be Prince Albert II and future in-laws Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie in handing out presents. Afterwards the Princely Family was treated to a round of Christmas carols by the grateful children. The young Monegasque seemed quite at ease with Charlene and she with them, it was all smiles all around and Charlene seemed to be in her element. During all the prep work for her future "job" as princess, I would say that occasions like this are what there should be more of and interviews such as she had in the past are what there should be less of. Of course this was hardly a difficult occasion, and there is no better way to gain popularity at Christmas time than handing out gifts to children, and there was Prince Albert, Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie to give support. However, events such as this, alongside the rest of the family, is a good way of easing into the job of being Princess consort of Monaco. Just as we saw on National Day, Charlene seems to have the appearance and style of a princess down pretty well.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Onassis vs. Grimaldi

Today granddaughters Athina Onassis and Charlotte Casiraghi may be good friends but in the recent history of Monaco the rivalry between HSH Prince Rainier III and the shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis was one of the most critical and hard fought battles in Monegasque history that shed no blood. Prince Rainier III was on his way to conflict with Onassis as soon as he came to the throne upon the death of his grandfather HSH Prince Louis II and the focus would be the SBM (Société des Bains de Mer de Monaco) which controls the gaming industry and the three largest and most lavish resort hotels in the principality. During the latter years of the reign of HSH Prince Albert I (a scholarly man who found gambling distasteful) and throughout the reign of Prince Louis II (a soldier likewise little attracted to luxury vacations and the tourism industry) the business and profits of the gaming industry had declined considerably, mostly, it must be said, because of two rather traumatic incidents known as the First and Second World Wars. Aristotle Onassis sailed into Monaco on his luxury yacht Olympic Winner and saw a great opportunity before him.

Onassis saw that there was a great opportunity for profit represented by the valuable real estate owned by the SBM quite apart from the casino that was long considered the primary holding of the company. Onassis envisioned Monaco becoming a lavish haven for the super-rich exclusively with new resorts catering to the rich and famous, a larger harbor capable of handling bigger yachts and luxury cruise liners and bigger and more extravagant villas. By the time Rainier III came to the throne Onassis was heavily invested in Monaco and well on his way to becoming the majority share-holder of the SBM. So it was that when Prince Rainier took up the government of Monaco he found he had a very ambitious and independent partner, in a stronger position than he was, at the SBM and the Precious Metals Society announcing they were bankrupt and this held, at the time, more than half the reserve funds of the principality. He was further hampered by the retention of several of those responsible for this disaster which was done on the advice of Jean-Charles Rey, the then love interest of his older sister HSH Princess Antoinette of Monaco.

Ever since there has been talk that the bad advice was part of a concerted effort on the part of Princess Antoinette to have Rainier III deposed and her own son, Baron Christian de Massey, put on the throne in his place. Onassis also did not hesitate to give the Prince his own unsolicited advice, stressing that such a family feud was bad for business -which he certainly cared about. Prince Rainier took firm measures behind the scenes to put his sister in her place but kept up a good front in public, showing a happy and united family, so as not to alarm the public and potential investors. Nonetheless the tension and rivalry between the Prince and Onassis only increased. When the Prince married the American actress Grace Kelly, Onassis went all out for the occasion but was privately a little skeptical about the match. Apart from a temporary truce for the wedding Onassis and Rainier continued to clash over their conflicting vision for Monaco.

Onassis was putting millions of dollars into the SBM, building and embellishing playgrounds for the global elites. Prince Rainier wanted to make Monaco a welcoming destination for people of all classes, not just the super-rich. Behind closed doors the Grimaldis referred to Onassis as “the Greek” and complained of how his influence was becoming pervasive. For his part, Onassis was far from respectful toward the Princely Family and angered the Prince by constantly addressing him as “Rainier” instead of “Your Serene Highness”. A comment referring to the SBM as one of his “toys” also did not go over well at the palace. Onassis did not treat the Prince with great respect and thought him rather simplistic; a sort of simpleton who had to be humored with lip-service while he ran things as he saw fit. He was afraid that the desire of the Prince to appeal to middle and working class tourists would drive away the elites Onassis wished to attract. While he was planning bigger and better country clubs, pampering centers and luxury liner accommodations Prince Rainier III was planning to build factories, low rent apartments for workers, hotels that would be in the price range of middle class tourists and less expensive entertainments. Onassis viewed these ideas as silly at best and at worst a detriment to the exclusive sort of Monaco he envisioned.

The Prince turned out to be a more astute businessman and ruler than Onassis had given him credit for. He had assumed that Princess Grace would attract Hollywood celebrities to Monaco and raise the status of the country, as he wished, as a place for the rich and famous. Onassis was right in that this did indeed happen but Princess Grace also used her celebrity to reach out to those lower down on the social ladder and she was absolutely supportive of her husband and his vision for Monaco. Finally the tensions between the Prince and the tycoon became outright opposition as Rainier III used his powers as Sovereign Prince to veto the appointments Onassis made to the board of the SBM. Prince Rainier III might have been dependent on the SBM (and thus Onassis) for the majority of his income but he was also effectively an absolute monarch and had no qualms about using his authority to ensure that he rather than Onassis ruled in the principality.

Onassis gave in to some of the plans Rainier III had but tried to finish off the struggle by stipulating that his further cooperation would depend on the Prince giving up his veto rights and management influence in the SBM. For Prince Rainier, this was out of the question and he was further pushed to his limit when Jean-Charles Rey, finally known to be in league with Princess Antoinette, began opposing him in the National Council and he was not above taking sides with Onassis to oppose the Prince. Soon, Onassis was publicly referring to himself as the “real” ruler of Monaco. When Onassis, Rey and their confederates on the Council united to oppose the Prince’s plan to build a laboratory for his friend Jacques Cousteau to advance the study of oceanography they had finally pushed Rainier III to the limit. On January 29, 1959 HSH Prince Rainier III announced to his people by radio that he would tolerate no further efforts to undermine his rights and that he was suspending the constitution. Rights of political assembly were abrogated and the National Council was dissolved. The Prince would rule in his own right, by princely edict, until constitutional reforms could be put in place.

In the aftermath of this Onassis tried one last time to assert his control using the democratic reforms Prince Rainier had put in place during his brief stint as an absolute monarch. He could, he reasoned, use his influence to gain political strength but he was thwarted by a PR offensive by Prince Rainier who even made common cause with Rey who had recently become his brother-in-law by a civil marriage to Princess Antoinette. Secure in his position Prince Rainier drew up laws to break the dominance Onassis had by making new shares of the SBM to be owned by the government which would make Rainier III majority shareholder. Onassis tried to stop this bill in the courts but had no success. Seeing that his era of control of the SBM and thus his place of influence in Monaco over, Aristotle Onassis boarded his yacht Christina and departed Monaco, selling off his remaining shares in the SBM. Given his attitudes and behavior and the fact that Rainier’s plans were already leading to economic improvements, the Monegasque were not sad to see him go. Onassis felt he had been very unfairly treated of course, but one thing no one could deny was that no one would ever again view Prince Rainier III as a shallow simpleton or anything other than a very strong and shrewd monarch and businessman. In the long struggle between the Prince of Monaco and Aristotle Onassis it was the Prince who had emerged victorious.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Villa Charlotte

The Villa Charlotte was constructed from 1902 to 1903 at Luzarches in the Val d’Oise by the architect Marie-Leon de Tor at the request of His Serene Highness Prince Louis II of Monaco. He named the villa in honor of his daughter, HSH Hereditary Princess Charlotte of Monaco, mother of Princess Antoinette and Prince Rainier III. The building was later remodeled somewhat based on the ’Art Nouveau’ style.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Princess of Monaco at Versailles

The Grimaldis were once a common feature of the court at Versailles. Princes of Monaco, in their capacity as the Dukes of Valentinois, along with their significant others, joined the ranks of the nobility of France basking in the glow of the "Sun King" Louis XIV. Alas, with the French Revolution it seemed those days were gone forever -and so far they have been. Yet, last Monday the magnificent palace at Versailles was again graced by the presence of a Grimaldi in the person of Her Royal Highness Princess Caroline. In her capacity as president and founder of the World Association of Children's Friends (AMADE) Princess Caroline attended the 18th La Nuit Internationale de l’Enfance (International Night of Childhood) charity gala. It was only fitting that the Princess chose this venue to help raise money for children in need as it is a cause close to her heart and caring for children (particularly orphans) is one of the primary goals of Princess Caroline's charity AMADE which she is so devoted to.

In all there were about 700 guests at the event, organized by Anne-Atmone Giscard d'Estaing, former First Lady of the French Republic, who is also president of the Foundation for Children. There cocktails in the stone gallery followed by a tour of the royal apartments and the Hall of Mirrors. For those of us who are history fans it is impossible not to imagine Princess Caroline walking through the same rooms and hallways that famous ancestors of hers, such as Princess Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont, Prince Louis I, Prince Antoine I and Princess Marie de Lorraine also walked through, lived in and carried out their own dramas around the King of France. After the tour there was entertainment at the Versailles opera house by Arielle Dombasle. A good event for a good cause but, aside from the presence of Princess Caroline, how many people around the world would have ever heard of it? The glitter and glamour of this events would be so much greater, and thus so much more effective in their benevolent goals, if Princess Caroline, who would also have her own place in the French nobility as the granddaughter of the Duc d'Polignac, was the rule and not the exception and if, instead of a former First Lady, the gala was organized by the Queen of France.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Historic Grimaldi Birthday

Today in 1818 the future Prince Charles III of Monaco was born to Prince Florestan I and Princess Maria Caroline of Monaco. During his reign the gaming industry was established at Monte Carlo, the official flag and national anthem were adopted, coins were minted and diplomatic relations were established with many foreign countries for the first time. He ruled Monaco from 1856 to 1889 before passing the principality to the capable hands of his son Prince Albert I, though he never could understand his boy's fascination with oceanography.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pope Paul III

One of the popes with a special place in the history of Monaco was His Holiness Pope Paul III, the first Roman Pontiff to ever visit the principality. He was also a figure who embodied both good and bad aspects of the Renaissance papacy but also a great reformer. He was born Alessandro Farnese on February 29, 1468 in what was then the Papal States. His family, the Farnese, were a very old Italian family who had gained great success over the years and aside from gaining high position in the Church also became the Dukes of Parma. His mother was from the also well-placed Caetani family which included among its members the controversial Pope Boniface VIII in the Middle Ages. Young Alessandro Farnese was given the best education money could buy, studying at the University of Pisa and at the court of Lorenzo de Medici. Throughout his life he was immersed in the glorious atmosphere of Renaissance Italy. He learned to appreciate great art, great literature, philosophy and the art of unscrupulous political advancement.

In 1491 he was given a place in the Curia and in 1493 Pope Alexander VI made him a Cardinal-Deacon. He proved impressive and Pope Clement VII later made him Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and dean of the College of Cardinals. When the pontiff passed away Cardinal Farnese was elected pope in 1534 taking the name of Paul III. Like the stereotypical Renaissance pope, Paul III had four illegitimate children when he came to the papal throne and he quickly showed that the tradition of nepotism was still alive and well by appointing his teenage grandsons to the College of Cardinals. He later elevated his nephews to the rank of cardinal as well. However, also like other Renaissance popes, Paul III was a great patron of the arts. He employed Michelangelo in painting the “Last Judgment” in the Sistine Chapel, painting other frescos for the Vatican Palace as well as adding some finishing touches to the Farnese Palace in Rome. He commissioned numerous works of art and building projects adding to the beauty and defensibility of Rome.

On the political front Pope Paul III was an admirable champion of the Catholic Reformation. He clashed frequently with King Henry VIII of England. When the King determined to execute Bishop St John Fisher for refusing to recognize his marriage to his mistress, Pope Paul III infuriated King Henry by elevating Fisher to the rank of cardinal just before his execution. Later he took the ultimate step of excommunicating King Henry VIII for divorcing his first wife and defying the authority of Rome. On the continent Pope Paul III first supported the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in his efforts to defeat a Protestant alliance called the Schmalkaldic League and restore all of Germany to the Catholic Church. However, when the Emperor proved successful Paul began to worry that a too-powerful German Emperor might be a danger to the Church and he withdrew his forces.

During this time Monaco was a protectorate of the Kingdom of Spain, of which the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was king. It was the predecessor of Paul III, Pope Clement VII, who had advised Bishop Agustin Grimaldi, regent for Honore I, to ally with Spain and the Holy Roman Empire in the first place. It was while on his way to the Council of Nice that Pope Paul III stopped in Monaco for a visit, meeting with Seigneur Honore I who welcomed the Supreme Pontiff with all of the pomp and ceremony his tiny state could muster. Calling councils is one of the things Paul III is most remembered for. Despite his rather worldly reputation, Paul III was a great reformer who called the Council of Trent which finally got about the work of cleaning up the scandals in the Church that had provoked the birth of the Protestant movement. He also encouraged new religious orders which worked at reformation such as the Society of Jesus which he officially recognized in 1540. He also established the Roman Inquisition and condemned the enslavement of native Indians in the Americas. He died of fever at the age of 81 in 1549.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Princess Stephanie on AIDS Day

HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco, founder and president of Fight AIDS Monaco, recently gave an interview with Pascal Olmeta to the Jungle Fight radio show on an upcoming charity football tournament. Here is part of that interview:

Jungle Fight: An event will bring together your two organizations: the Columbus Show Beach Soccer (10 and 11 December), what do you expect?

Princess Stephanie: This event is a very good thing. It will raise awareness of our respective causes. They will both have fun and make a donation. I expect that beyond generosity, there is an exchange. It also shows the solidarity associations. Each is open to fight each other.

Pascal Olmeta: People may attend as a family to a great show. This event proves that we’re all in the same direction. Only the mobilization and information can make a difference.

Jungle Fight: At the dawn of a new decade, what message would you like to wear through your associations?

Princess Stephanie: Try to listen to the news, not to remain ignorant because it leads to discrimination. My real battle I waged against is discrimination against AIDS patients.

Pascal Olmeta: Try to generate as many smiles on the lips of the sick children and their families. A sick child never stops smiling, he never complains. This permanent smile is his strength.

Jungle Fight: There have been advances in research, can it be any hope?

Princess Stephanie: You can not really talk about hope. Of course, there is advances, but nothing is resolved. AIDS contaminates every three seconds. We must focus on screening. It also does not change the fact that HIV-positive are ostracized from society. The associations are certain things that move, should governments get involved.

Jungle Fight: The smile is there the greatest victory in the 10 and 11 December?

Princess Stephanie: Everyone should have a good time but there must be a realization. AIDS is not inevitable. It is important for governments to support their fellow patients. Would that this level of prevention. Why not redo operations “condoms to a euro?

Source: Monaco Maville

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family Resemblance

Pauline Ducruet & Princess Caroline

Charlotte Casiraghi & Princess Stephanie

Pauline Ducruet & Princess Caroline

Princess Caroline & daughter Princess Alexandra

(photos collected by Nathalie Cox)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Historic Anniversary

It was on this day in 1816 that HSH Prince Florestan of Monaco married Maria Caroline Gilbert de Lametz in what was to be one of the most successful and influential marriages in Grimaldi family history and would have quite an impact on the future of Monaco. The results of this match are still felt today.

Friday, November 26, 2010

News of Future Papal Visit

Rene Giuliano, Vicar-General of Monaco, has confirmed that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will visit the principality, sometime in the first half of 2012. The Vicar-General said, "It's more or less sure, unless there's something major, like the Pope falling ill". This statement was prompted by rumors that the Pope would be visiting next year which sparked even more whispers that the Pontiff might be set to officiate at the wedding of Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock. It is hard to imagine that anyone would believe that but was evidently a story that was 'making the rounds'. However, a papal visit of any sort will be a very happy occasion for Monaco, one of the very few officially Roman Catholic monarchies left in the world. Talk of the Pope performing the wedding ceremony was obviously silly, that is not something popes commonly do and given the Prince's rather 'colorful' years as a bachelor for the Pontiff to preside at his wedding would be unthinkable. That does not, of course, take away from the importance of the occasion with the marriage set to be *the* wedding event of 2011 -at least until the news came out that Prince William and Kate Middleton will be marrying on a date set prior to that of the Prince of Monaco. On a historical note Pope Paul III was the first Supreme Pontiff to visit the Principality of Monaco.

Happy Birthday Louis!

Today Louis Ducruet, eldest son of HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco, celebrates his 18th birthday. Congratulations to the young man though it does seem hard to believe that Princess Stephanie has a full grown son. Happy birthday Louis!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Order of St Charles

The Order of St Charles is a “house order” of the Grimaldi Princely Family and the highest honor which can be bestowed by the Prince of Monaco. As such it is featured on the official royal arms of the Prince of Monaco. The order was established by HSH Prince Charles III on March 15, 1858 and includes five grades which are; knight, officer, commander, grand officer and knight grand cross. Membership is open to Monegasque subjects and foreign nationals alike and is awarded for meritorious achievement or significant service to the Monegasque state or the Sovereign Prince. The order is named for St Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan, patron of Prince Charles III and a relative of the Grimaldi family. The star of the order is emblazoned with the mottos “Princeps et Patria” and “Deo Juvante”.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Prince Albert II, Five Years on the Throne

It was on November 19, 2005 that HSH Prince Albert II was formally enthroned at St Nicholas Cathedral as Sovereign Prince of Monaco. This followed a period of mourning for the death of his father upon whose passing Albert inherited the title on April 6. It was a time of great nervousness, for lack of a better term, when Albert II took the throne. Most of the Monegasque could hardly remember a time without the sturdy image of Prince Rainier III reigning over them. At the time of his death he was the second-longest serving head of state in the world. What sort of a monarch would Albert, the quintessential “nice guy” and perpetual bachelor be? It would, of course, be grossly immature to pass final judgment now, but in light of the recent anniversary it would be appropriate to take a look back at Albert’s five years as Sovereign Prince of Monaco.

Probably the most significant events of the reign of Albert II so far have been the changes he has brought about in the economy. Carrying on and expanding on the foundational work done by his father, Albert II has shifted Monaco away from a purely tourism-based economy (though that is still obviously a major part) and toward becoming a center for technological innovation, global business and the study of environmental changes, particularly in regards to the oceans, and finding new ways to deal with these changes. If there is one area Albert II has been tireless in his efforts it has been researching, warning and raising awareness about global climate change and advocating more responsible lifestyle changes to combat the effects of global warming. He has also taken on a larger role for Monaco in humanitarian causes around the world such as rushing financial assistance in the wake of natural disasters to countries as far removed as Haiti and Pakistan.

Another major accomplishment of Albert’s reign, so far, related to the new direction in the business life of Monaco has been his effort to get Monaco off of the so-called “grey list” of nations regarded as tax havens. Although still strictly guarding their own sovereignty, Monaco has worked extensively with the OECD, the G20 and individual nations in showing that Monaco has nothing to hide in regard to her banking and business transactions. Prince Albert has instituted new policies, new reforms and signed new fiscal agreements with Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Monaco signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the United States of America and similar agreements with Belgium and San Marino, enacted into Monegasque law by Sovereign Decree. Monaco still wants to be as investment-friendly as possible but all of these changes have done much to improve the international reputation of the principality.
Also under Albert II Monaco has achieved a measure of greater practical control from the French with the appointment of Michel Roger as Minister of State. Prince Albert made the appointment himself after some legal changed regarding the special relationship with France. Previously the Minister of State had effectively been chosen in Paris. Fortunately, under Albert’s leadership Monaco has remained comparatively unscathed in the economic crisis of recent years though it did necessitate the dropping of a planned expansion into the sea. And, on the personal side of things, Albert admitted his failings to the world in recognizing two illegitimate children and has been a source of strength to his sister Princess Caroline when marital problems beset her. He slapped away a ludicrous attempt at extortion by a professional fraudster and finally, almost marking the anniversary of his five years on the throne, announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend Charlene Wittstock. Given how long it was in coming this may be seen as the most significant achievement of Prince Albert yet, particularly if, in years to come, an heir to the throne comes along to continue the Grimaldi-Polignac line.

It has not been all cakes and ale certainly, and changes always mean making some uncomfortable. However, on the whole, any objective look back would have to view the first five years of the reign of Prince Albert II as a solid success.

Vive le Prince!
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