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The Grimaldis of Monaco 

excerpts from the book "Grace - The Story of a Princess " - pages 67 - 73

written by Phyllida Hart-Davis, St. Martin's Press, New York

What sort of a man was the Prince who had won Crace Patricia Kelly's inaccessible heart? And what was the miniature state which she was going to share? 

Monaco is a rocky headland on the Mediterranean coast of France, and the whole territory of the principality (less than 500 acres) can be overlooked from the terrace of the 16th century Royal Palace. But although it is so small, the state has a long and proud history. 

The place was known to early navigators from Byblos, Tyre, and Sidon. These Phoenicians brought silk and oils and precious spices to trade with the local inhabitants: they also brought their god, a strange legendary figure called Melkart, known to the Romans as Hercules Monoikos - Hercules who dwells alone. So the Romans called the bay Portus Hercules Moneici, and in 122 AD the Roman domination of Provence began. 

In the Middle Ages the Genoese built 2 castles on Monegasque territory; the first stones of the one on the cliff where the palace is now standing were laid in 1215 (incidentally the year in which King John of England signed the Magna Carta. 

Two factions were then struggling for supremacy on the Mediterranean coast: the Guelfs, who supported the Pope, and the Ghibellines, who were allies of the German Emperor. For the best part of a century they wrangled, and in 1295 open war broke out when they slaughtered one another in the streets of Genoa. 

The Grimaldy family, who were Buelfs, were exiled when the Ghibellines triumphed, but went on waging sporadic warfare against their rivals. In 1297 one of their number, Francois Grimaldi, known as Malice, dressed up as a monk and was admitted to the Genoese fortress in Monaco. Drawing a sword from beneath his monk's habit, he admitted his band of followers, and took the garrison by surprise. From thay day to this -apart from two short breaks the territory has been ruled by the Grimaldis, and in rememberance of that exploit, two monks with drawn sword support the Grimaldi coat of arms. 

The Grimaldis are therefore Europe's oldest ruling family. But although they have reigned for so long over their small principality, its history has been turbulent. Savoy and Milan, France and Spain have all cast covetous eyes over the flourishing trading-post, with its enviable climate and safe harbour. Nor were family relationships always harmonious. Althogh Lambert Grimaldi, who married the Monegasque heiress Claudine, managed the diplomatic balance with great astuteness, quarrels broke out between his sons. In 1505 Lucien Grimaldi assassinated his older tyrannical brother Jean II, and the following year the Genoese, sensing weakness, moved in like sharks to the kill. 

By December 1506 there were 14,000 Genoese soldiers besieging Monaco, and for five months the small defending force of 1,500 Monegasques, Provencals and Italians fought back from their rocky headland. In Mach 1507, they won the day. The invading force sailed away, and Lucien, who had retrieved his reputation by his courage throughout the siege, began once more the diplomatic balancing act between France and Spain which was necessary to preserve the integrity of his little domain. Although subject to the sovereignty of France, by the Treaties of Burgos and Trodesillas, Monaco came under the protection of the powerful Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. 

For 100 years the balancing act succeeded in keeping Monaco independent. Then in 1605 a Spanish garrison was installed, to the dismay of the Monegasques, and in 1612 the Ruler of Monaco, Honore II, was compensated for this curtailment of his powers by Spain's recognition of his title of Serene Prince. 

Not that this sop in any way lessened Honore's determination to be his own master again. In November 1641 he put to fight the Spanish garrison with a well-timed attack, and restored the *Glorious liberty of Monaco*, preferring to opt once-and-for-all for French, rather than Spanish protection.

To this day, Honore II is a hero of Monegasque history; besides being a man of action, he was a patron of the arts who collected the works of Titian, Duerer, Raphael, Rubens and Michelangelo. 

His successor, Louis I, codified the law which bears his name. A century later the tiny state was jolted from its provincial calm by the tumult of the French Revolution, and the great wave of anarchy that washed over its powerful neighbor spread ripples through Monaco as well. Reluctantly the Prince of the day, Honore III, conceded reforms to his people, who had suddenly woken from contentment with their feudal systems of government and joined in the intoxicating pipe-dream by which the French populance demanded Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. 

Peremptorily, the revolutionary generals called for the annexation of Monaco, confiscated the Prince's property and in 1793 imprisoned him in Paris. The following year he was released, but soon died far from home. His country remained in French hands for nearly 20 years until Napoleon, after his escape from Elba, met the future Prince Honore V in Cannes shortly before the battle of Waterloo. 

According to local legend, Napoleon asked the young prince where he was going, and Honore replied: *Sire, you are returning to your stated and I am going to govern mine.* The answer pleased the Emperor, who graciously allowed him to do as he wished. 

After the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon's downfall, the future of Monaco hung in the balance. By the Treaty of Vienna it was placed under the protection of the King of Sardinia, much to Monegasque annoyance; Sardinian troops were garrisoned in the town and there was further trouble from the cities of Menton and Roquebrune which clamoured for independence from Monaco.

Eventually, the Sardinian troops were withdrawn when the Savoy family was granted the area round Nice. For an indemnity of four million francs Charles III gave up his right to Menton and Roquebrune, and took an important step in the development of Monaco when he agreed to allow the railway line from Genoa to Nice to pass through his territory. Monaco became a French Protectorate once more; it was about to enter a new era as one of the world's most popular tourist centres. 

Charles III is regarded as Monaco's first truly modern prince, but credit for the enterprise which brought the rich and famous crowding into their tiny state should go to his mother, Princess Caroline, who suggested opening a gaming casino. 

In December 1856, a roulette wheel began to spin in the Palais de la Condamine, and although it was another 12 years before the opening of the railway made communication easy, the first determined gamblers were prepared to travel by horse-drawn coach over the preciptious mountain road past La Turbie and down the steep, winding decent to sea level for their sport.

A new Casiono, with an elegant Palladian facade and chandeliers sparkling under the dome of its main hall, was finished in 1865. An astute financier, Francois Blanc, had bought out the original owners of the Casino for the then-enourmous sum of 2 million francs. He held 22,000 of its 30,000 shares, and Charles III 400; together they set to work to make money from their new enterprise. The first priority was to create accomodation; the second to ensure a plentiful supply of visitors and also encourage more residents.

By building a new town, Monte Carlo, named after himself, Charles achieved his first objective, and when he abollished all rates and taxes in 1869 the population of his principality increased substantially. Splendid new hotels attracted the rich and famous of Northern Europe to spend their winters in the sun in Monaco, while the lure of the gaming tables ensured a healthy revenue. 

Not that a gambler's life was entirely restful at that date. In the 1870s the captain of a Russian warship which had anchored in the bay at Monaco paid the casino a courtesy visit, and unfortunately gambled away all his ship's money. He went back on board, trained his guns on the casino, and threatened to blow it up if the money were not returned to him. The manager called for the French Navy, but no help was forthcoming. The first shell landed on the casino terrace; a white flag was run up, and the chief croupier put to sea with the required amount. 

When Charles died in 1889, he bequeathed to his son Albert I a flourishing family enterprise. Prince Albert was a very difficult character from his astute and shrewd but somewhat melancholy father. He was a lively, action-loving young man with a passionate interest in marine biology and the new science of oceanography. Indeed it was his charts of the Mediterranean which were used by the Allies for their landings in the Second World War. He founded the majestic Oceanographic Museum on the Rock of Monaco which, with its huge collection of marine animals and large scientific library, is now one of the country's most fascinating buildings. 

But Alberts preoccupation with scientific research may have contributed to his unsatisfactory domestic life. At the age of 21, in 1869, he was pressed by his *protector*, Napoleon III, to marry an English wife, and with some reluctance he chose the equally-reluctant Lady Mary Douglas-Hamilton, then aged eighteen. The marriage lasted less than a year. Trouble over the Princess's inheritance led to her being kept a virtual prisoner in the Palace. In a letter home she referred to *the bitterness of the weeks I spent in Monaco,* and in 1870 she succeeded in escaping; she left for a cure in Baden-Baden, never to return. 

A few month later she gave birth to a son, Prince Louis, and a long lawsuit ensued since she resolutely refused to go back to her husband. After an eight-year wrangle, the marriage was nullified by the Holy See, and Prince Albert was free to look for another bride. 

By a strangely prophetic chance, the girl who won his heart was an attractive, intelligent, blonde American, who had been briefly married to the Duc de Richelieu. Like her successor nearly 70 years later, Alice Heine was the daughter of a self-made millionaire,and became a generous patron of the arts which, for the first time, began to influence the life of her adopted country. However, the durability of their marriages differed; in 1902 the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Alice was dissolved and he returned to his lonely life of scientific research. In 1911 he accepted an enormous change in the constitution when he agreed to the election of a National Assembly of 18 members. 

Throughout the First World War Monaco remained neutral; but the carefree epoch which had brought it such prosperity was swept away in the bloody maelstrom. 

In 1922 Prince Albert died, leaving his throne to the child of his brief marriage to Mary Douglas-Hamilton, Prince Louis II. The cosmopolitan upbringing of the new Prince may have given him his rather light-hearted approach to his new responsibilities. Certainly he spent little time in his principality. During the winther months he would visit the Palace to entertain and be entertained by the fashionable, sun-loving foreigners who had now acquired the habit of spending their winters in Monte Carlo. For the rest of the year he moved from one country estate to another, renting grouse moors in Scotland for the shooting season, and administered his state from afar, with the help of a travelling bureaucracy of secretaries and ministers.

Work on the Port of Monaco, which had been dragging on since 1901 was completed during his reign. The Monte Carlo car rally, which had started under Prince Albert, received a new impetus when the Grand Prix de Monaco, the exacting race with a thousand bends, was instituted by the Automobile Club of Monaco. Louis also caused a large tunnel to be excavated under the Rock of Monaco to ease traffic congestion. The little state ticked over, but only just. By 1939, the big-time gamblers who contributed so much to Monaco's finances were a dying species. The need for new sources of money was growing urgent. 

Prince Louis may or may not have married the pretty laundress Juliette Louvet who gave birth to his daughter Charlotte. Certainly no marriage was officially acknowledged. Nevertheless, after a Parisian upbringing, the girl was summoned to Monaco by her grandfather to be tutored as a Princess and named next in succession after her father. 

Princess Charlotte married Count Pierre de Polignac, son of the Duc de Polignac, and had 2 children, Antoinette and Rainer, the present ruler of Monaco, who was born in 1923. But this marriage, like so many others in the Grimaldi history, did not last. When the children were 10 and 6 years old respectively, their parents separated. Princess Charlotte renounced her right to the throne in favour of her son, and went back to live near Paris, leaving the boy's education in the hands of his father. 

By all accounts, Prince Rainier's early childhood was unsettled. He was deprived of any firm rock of family life and affection. At the age of 8 he was dispatched across the Channel to an English preparatory school, where he suffered invitable torments of homesickness, exacerbated by the need to communicate in a foreign language. As he told his official biographer, Peter Hawkins: *I suppose I enjoyed it, but like most little boys who go to prep school, I was caned. This shocked me in the fact that it was a physical punishment, but no more. The attitude of all English youngsters at that age is that being caned is more of an occasion to have a good laugh, and fun, so there was nothing dramatic about it.* 

Already he was learning to keep a typically British stiff upper lip, but a glimpse of the loneliness of the small boy can be seen in his recollection: *When you are 12 years old, you feel that the Channel is terribly wide. The plane services weren't so regular in those days, either*. 

Still, he endured his exile philosophically, and learned to fight with his fists. In the appropriately flamboyant language of an official guide to Monaco, the Prince was a boxing champion *and without too many compliments in the most democratic way in the world often knocked out his Anglo-Saxen adversaries.*. 

Despite this useful skill, he seems to have felt his isolation even more deeply when he went on to Stowe, the English public school whose boys are known as Stoics, not without reason. He ran away and got as far as Buckingham before the police caught up with him and returned him to school, where his house-master, to his credit, welcomed him back with an enormous tea. All the same, it cannot have been a happy period, and it was a relief to the young Prince to complete his education in Switzerland at the college of Le Rosey at Rolle. 

This pleasant period was cut short when the Germans began to bombard Lyons and for his own protection Rainier was called home. There he began to see at first hand the workings of government. The impression he had formed as a child from watching Prince Louis' peripatetic administration -that to rule Monaco was really quite simple- received a sharp jolt. The closer he got to the job, the more difficult he realised it was. 

The question of completing his education now became pressing, and despite the fact that most of France was under German occupation, he was sent to Montpellier University, where he sat for his baccalaureat. He studied political science for a year in Paris, finding it increasingly difficult to accept the presence of first Italian, then German troops in Monaco. As the Germans began to retreat, they were replaced by Polish and Czechoslovakian conscripts; but eventually the local resistance fighters drove them out too. 

Ugly incidents followed as the Maquis settled old scores with locals who had been unwise enough to collaborate with the Germans. Rainier was glad to leave home and volunteer for the French Army of Algeria, in which he served as plain Lieutenant Grimaldi. During the next year and a half, he fought in Alsace and was awarded the Croix de Guerre; then, at the cessation of hostilities, he joined the economic section of the French Military mission in Berlin. This relative freedom was brought to an abrupt end in April 1949, when Prince Louis, after a long illness, delegated his powers to his grandson. A few months later he died. 

Thus, at the age of 26, Prince Rainier succeeded him and was crowned in the white-stone Cathedral of St. Nicholas overlooking the harbour. Dark and handsome in the Mediterranean way, of medium height and stocky build, the young Prince had become one of Europe's most eligible bachelors; but he showed no immediate inclination to marry. 

Other matters required his attention first: urgent matters such as the modernisation and diversification of his principality, and above all the discovery of new sources of revenue. The prosperous and fashionable little state, which his grandfather had inherited, now looked distinctly run-down. The elegant buildings needed repair; and the Palace itself was barely fit to live in. The roofs were in a dire state and the whole place had a desolate, defeated air as if it knew that its days of glory were past. 

Saddest of all was the way Monaco's once-glamorous image had been tarnished. Monte Carlos no longer attracted the beau monde; as a playground for the rich and famous, it had been superseded by other fasionable resorts. In Somerset Maugham's celebrated phrase, it had become *a sunny place for shady people*. Wealthy foreigners no longer won and lost fortunes at the gaming-tables: there was an urgend need to attract people with ordinary incomes, so that the country's finances no longer depended so heavily on profits from the Casino. 

As one of Rainier's counsellors explained: *We were rather like one of those rocks in the Antartic which has always been the undisputed domain of the royal penguins. Then one day the King Penguin notices that his flock is not so numerous nor so full of fight any more, and all around the rock the sea is boiling with ordinary penguins struggling to get a foothold. The question is, how many penguins do you allow ashore without getting pushed off the rock yourself ...? 

While Rainier strove to find an answer to this question, he continued a longstanding friendship with the beautiful, but divorced, French actress Gisele Pascal. His subjects watched and waited anxiously for signs of marriage. Human nature is sometimes deplorably selfish. The main source of their concern was not their Prince's happiness, but their own pockets. Under the 1918 agreement between France and Prince Albert, Monaco was recognised as an independent principality, whose sovereignty could not be ceded to any foreign power except France. But if the throne of Monaco were ever to become vacant, France could immediately claim sovereignty over the whole principality. 

The spectre of French taxes and French conscription descending on their sunny haven so alarmed the citizens of Monaco that their Prince's marriage and begetting of an heir became a serious matter. No-one took more interest in the subject than Aristotle Onassis, who had recently invested large sums of money in the archaically-named Society des Bains de Mer, which controlled the Casino. When Rainier set off for America and his momentous Christmas visit to Philadelphia in December 1955, his subjects awaited the outcome of his visit with barely controlled agitation. 

The prince was well aware of their preoccupation, but in six years of rule he had become adept at avoiding the gossip which is the breath of life to all small communities. While no-one expected him to marry Mlle. Pascal, his movements were closely monitored by his subjects, and, as he said himself, there were a whole lot of people who were *throwing up names* and thinking they could arrange his life: *My father kept telling me: *Be careful, these people are trying to push their relatives in front of you.*

Whatever his position, Rainier himself was an attractive man with a robust sense of humour, a sportsman who had an unusual rapport with animals. Like the British Royal Family, he found great pleasure in the spontaneous affection of animals who neither knew nor cared that he was a Prince. 

Early in his reign, in 1954, he created a Zoological Garden which is not, strictly speaking, a zoo but a *centre of acclimatision* for different species of tropical animals, particularly from Africa. It is one of his favourite projects. The animals' spacious enclosures have views over the Mediterranean which many humans might envy, and while their creature comforts are supplied by a staff of experts, Rainier is careful not to neglect their mental well-being. Nowadays he often invites selected specimens to take holidays with him at his mountain farm. He is fearless in handling even the larger predators, and has said that if he were not a prince he would like to be a lion tamer. 

Though this ambition could hardly be fulfilled in the literal sense, metaphorically there were plenty of lions for him to subdue, but to do this successfully, he needed the help of a strong partner. Given his family's poor record in the domestic field, he longed for a marriage that would endure; a wife with whom he could share the burden of office and whose judgement he could trust. 

When an importunate reporter asked him for a picture of the girl he would like to marry, the Prince patiently reeled off a list of attributes: it was extraordinary how accurately they described the girl from Philadelphia.

After his education at British schools he spoke English perfectly, with an authentic Oxford accent; an excellent raconteur, he had a predilection for risque jokes. He had travelled about Europe enough to realise that Monaco's reputation hovered on the verge of absurdity - that many foreigners regarded his principality as no more than a running comic-opera performance in rather poor taste, where the brigandage of past centuries survived in the form of gambling and financial skulduggery. 

And yet, though he could laught at himself and his diminutive domain, he was serious and intelligent, and motivated by a strong sense not only of self-preservation, but also of duty towards his subjects.
 

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