His subjects address him as Serene Highness. The serenity comes from a warm, happy family relationship and a youthful love of sports. But his life of State is sometimes far from placid.
MEMOIRS OF MONACO by PRINCE RAINIER III
McCALL’S magazine – April 1963
His subjects address him as Serene Highness. The serenity comes from a warm, happy family relationship and a youthful love of sports. But his life of State is sometimes far from placid.
Since 1949, I have been Sovereign Prince of Monaco. I, therefore, have had the responsibility of ruling one of the smallest countries in the world, 390 acres, which my family has reigned over since the thirteenth century. Although we are a small country and have only 27,000 citizens, the Principality nevertheless has many national and international problems, which range from moving a railroad to dealing with representatives of the French government and a number of international organizations.
I would like to tell you about my life in this ancient little land, about our problems here, and about my wife and children, who have given me the personal happiness that has helped supply that added strength necessary to any man to cope with the affairs that affect his life.
One of the most important problems I’ve coped with is to make sure that Monaco keeps pace with the modern world. Recently, for example, I granted a new constitution, one that gives the people much more voice in running our country. Now, for the first time in our history, the Women of Monaco have the right not only to vote but also to hold office in the National Council.
Unfortunately, our international problems cannot be solved by the revision of a document. Our differences with France still pose a serious threat. Right now, these differences have not yet been completely resolved, although, since the beginning of the crisis, I have been firmly determined not to shut the door on negotiations between our two countries. The crisis began when France claimed that tax evaders — particularly from France — found a refuge in our country. It is not, and never has been, my intention to allow Monaco to become a Garden of Eden for tax evaders or “cover companies.” Furthermore, in our effort to cooperate with France, we have actually given her tax officials vast rights to make countless investigations here under the provisions of our 1951 treaty, which she denounced last year.
In this misunderstanding with France, it has been important for me to defend the integrity and independence of my country, both of which were recognized by the Versailles Treaty of 1918. I am sure that General de Gaulle, deeply aware of a sense of honor and integrity, would act in the same manner were our roles reversed.
If Monaco is envied, this is in an old tradition, for our lovely little country has been an envied spot for centuries. We are a rocky enclave on the southern coast of France, about nine miles east of Nice and the same distance from the Italian Riviera. Millions of tourists have come to this enclave to see our unique combination of soaring cliffs and placid blue-green waters. Unfortunately, many of them haven’t been able to find hotel rooms. But they soon won’t have this problem, because we are making space for them by moving the railroad that now crosses our country on its way from France to Italy. I decided to put the railroad in a tunnel through the mountains and use the space thus freed to build new hotels as well as low-cost housing for our people. With the rocks recovered from the tunnel excavations, and with others bought in nearby parts of France, we have begun to fill in the sea, much as the Dutch reclaimed land.
Ironically, certain French newspapers said that the land we reclaimed with French rock should belong to France, even though we paid dearly for this rock. At one point, the crisis with France reached such proportions that the French threatened to cut off the supply of water, gas, and electricity to Monaco, even though this punishment would have meant shutting off these same utilities to French towns along the Côte d’Azur. French customs officials were posted at the Monaco border, and the threat existed that they could seriously disrupt our tourist traffic by delaying Monaco-bound visitors for lengthy “customs checks.” This diplomatic estrangement with France was called by some newspapers the “funny war”, but to Monaco, it was a serious matter. At certain times, we felt that there existed a threat of economic asphyxiation, a threat that ultimately could have led to our loss of political independence.
It has been during the long, grim months of this crisis that I have drawn great comfort and support from my wife, Princess Grace. Throughout this struggle for survival, she is constantly at my side, giving me both her encouragement and her understanding. This understanding did not come easily to her, for European politics are at first very complicated for someone from the States. It has been a long way for an American girl to come.
The first time I met Miss Grace Kelly, she knew little of the intricacies or intrigues of this continent. It was in the spring of 1955. She was a beautiful and celebrated actress, an Academy Award winner at the peak of her career, who had come to Europe for the Cannes Film Festival.
However, contrary to most reports about this, I did not meet her at the festival, because I did not attend it. But at this time, the husband of Olivia de Havilland, Pierre Galante, of Paris Match, arranged for Miss Kelly to visit my Palace. While I took her on a tour of the State Apartments, photographers were constantly popping their flashbulbs at us. You cannot say that our first meeting was a very romantic one, and I am sure neither of us dreamed at the time that we would live together in the Palace she was visiting.
I have been asked whether this was “love at first sight”. In all frankness, I must confess that it was not. I do not really believe in love at first sight. Ours was a gradual falling in love, despite such inauspicious, hectic, and frankly unromantic beginnings as those lighted by the photographer’s flashbulbs.
After that first meeting at the Palace, I saw her again in America when I went over for the first time. We met at her home in Philadelphia. It was Christmas, and her family received me with great warmth and kindness. Perhaps they, too, sensed that our love had already begun to grow. For if there is one thing I know about love, it is that it grows, that it gets better and richer and more fulfilling. Every year, this sentiment becomes so much finer than it was at the start.
Before I met my wife’s family, during that first trip to Philadelphia, I admit that there was a moment when I was not sure how the Irish Kellys and the Monégasque Grimaldis would get along. I am happy to say that there was an immediate entente. Mrs. Kelly is a charming lady, with whom I have the best of relations, and whenever the Princess and I visit Philadelphia, we usually stay at her house.
When the Princess and I were first married, fear was expressed for a marriage that started under the constant searchlight of turbulent publicity. There also was — and still is — the fact that we stem from two different continents. But none of these problems troubled our marriage. In fact, when some friends would ask us how we ever got married in the first place, we answered quite candidly that we did so because we were both ready for marriage.
If I were asked today to name five reasons our marriage has been such a happy one, I would say first that we were both ready for such a venture. Second, like every good marriage, ours is based on mutual concessions and mutual understandings. We have made a great many little adjustments to each other in our habits and attitudes, like any couple. Third, children bring a husband and wife closer together and often cement the union. The fourth reason is that there is a certain independence in our marriage. I do not think that married people should live too close to each other all the time. This can be disastrous. Sometimes this over-closeness is prompted by jealousy, which I think is unnecessary. And as for the fifth reason for the happiness of our marriage — it is our love for each other.
Both as a husband and a Prince, I have drawn great comfort and reassurance from my wife. For any man, the presence of a woman is important. I do not like to bring all the problems of my office down to our apartment in the Palace. I think this is wrong, but I have always found it worthwhile to discuss certain problems with the Princess. She has a tendency to worry about me. In fact, sometimes she worries too much. For example, she is not too keen about my skin diving to great depths and has expressed concern about it on several occasions. I used to dive to 130 to 140 feet under the sea, but she was fearful that at that depth I might get caught under a rock or snag my air line. So, in order not to worry her, I have now cut down on my deeper diving activities. I recognize that she worries about me and about the children; but this is part of our marriage, part of the warm happiness that envelops it.
Immediately after our marriage, it was not easy for my wife to be Princess of Monaco with complete ease and assurance. At first, she was both a little astonished and a little hesitant about European mentality, which is so different from the American. Our way of life and of dealing with problems is often in sharp contrast to the ways she had known. For example, there is less efficiency here. The speedy service that an American expects is not always available. On the other hand, the Princess is impressed by the craftsmanship she has seen here, and by the work of the artisans. There are things, for example, that you can do in Europe that cannot be done in America. I mean that you can repair things in Europe. In America, when they don’t work, you usually have to throw them away and buy something new.
This Old World way of life was new to the Princess when she first came here. She had visited Europe a few times, but she had never stayed long enough to absorb the atmosphere. But once she started, she was well on the way toward understanding our mentality and understanding the complications of the political problems that plagued us. I tried to guide her through this maze by explaining things to her, but I believe that explanations are never satisfactory unless they can be backed by experience.
And this experience the Princess earned on her own and to such an extent that she is now able to take part with complete ease in the many official activities and assume the duties that she has here. She participates in a great variety of important projects. She is President of the Monégasque Red Cross, which is affiliated with the International Red Cross and is most active in charities both in this country and abroad. The Princess also has her own charity work; she helps the Girl Scouts, and she loves to visit the Orphanage. It is not at all as if some distant patron arrives to pay them a visit. It is rather as if a member of a family dropped in to call on them and to see about their well-being. They throng around her and chatter merrily.
Such visits are typical of the active interest she has taken in our people, who have come to love her. I constantly hear about the hundred little – and sometimes not-so-little – kindnesses that she does for our people. But she never talks about them, and I am sure she would not like me to do so.
The Princess not only works hard outside the Palace; she also carries out important duties inside. First of all, she keeps the social calendar. For instance, I tell her the people who should be invited to luncheons or dinners, and she organizes these receptions. Of course, at all official functions, she accompanies me, and I have noticed that everyone, from ordinary onlookers to officials, receives her with genuine pleasure.
The Princess has enjoyed this rapport with the Monégasques despite the fact that, in the beginning, both may have had an initial period of adjustment. The biggest problem for the Princess was the language barrier, which she overcame faster than I thought she would. She had a few French lessons in the conversation style. Most of what she learned, however, did not come from the automatic parroting of teachers or grammars, but from natural contact with the people and practice with the staff here at the Palace. I must confess that I, personally, did not have much time to teach her French. Of course, when she needed help with her speeches, for example, she would write out the French texts, and we would go over these together. In the beginning, such speeches in French made her nervous. As you can imagine, it is very difficult to speak in public in a language that is basically foreign to you and address people who know this language perfectly. Today, the Princess carries off her speeches with great aplomb.
Naturally, not all the Princess’ work is official, for, in addition to being a Princess, she is also a wife and a mother. We have been asked how we spend a typical day. In some respects, we live just like any other family. In others, our life is quite different.
In the Palace, we get up when the children come for breakfast — Caroline is now six and Albert is five. They generally barge through our room about eight o’clock. I have no trouble telling when they have arrived because Albert shoots off his pistol. I am always the dead Indian, (click here) so I have to wake up in order to play dead for him. We get to the breakfast table about 8:30 A.M. Breakfast is a rapid operation because the special Palace school the children attend starts at 9:00 A.M.
After they have gone off to school, I try to get in a little morning sport, like squash or a dip in the pool, unless, of course, any urgent matters demand that I go directly to my desk. Meanwhile, the Princess might leave to attend any number of activities – perhaps to a center where the old and needy receive food and lodging; or to another where nursing teams are trained; or to the Princess Grace Hospital, named in her honor, which she and I helped remodel and where a Hospital Aid Center was established by her to care for the sick; or to the Society of Blood Donors, which has been actively developed through her energy since 1957; or to the Girl Scout Center, where she works with the understanding of someone who was once a Girl Scout herself.
After my morning sport, I look at the mail, dictate letters, and handle the governmental papers that need rapid attention. After luncheon, twice a week, I have audiences, at which problems of the Principality are discussed with officials and others. Then I try to play a round of golf, a game I greatly enjoy.
In the evenings, especially when the season is on, the Princess and I generally have a few people in for dinner, although sometimes we dine out. Twice a week, during the winter, we show a movie. I am sometimes asked if we show any of the Princess’ Hollywood films at the Palace. We rarely do, because, unfortunately, we only have prints of a few of them.
Recently, there was some discussion about the Princess’ returning to her career to do a movie for Alfred Hitchcock. This whole idea started off from a casual conversation with Hitchcock, a friend of ours. But in no way was this intended as a comeback to the movies by the Princess. It was just to be a sort of holiday one-shot. We had been intending to go to the United States anyway, and the film would have consisted mainly of exteriors done in Virginia, where we had wanted to rent a house. We felt it would have been a nice way to see more of America than we usually do. But, unfortunately, the casual planning of this one movie was suddenly given a lot of publicity that it should not have received. Some Monégasques were worried that their Princess was about to return to Hollywood. And then the political situation required our presence at home, so we did not go to the States, and the plans for the Princess to make another film have been abandoned.
This does not mean that we abandoned our plans to visit the United States. We look forward, with pleasure, to our trip there this spring. We enjoy visiting America, and the Princess has a special fondness for New York. She will always have a weak spot for that town, where so many of her friends live. She does not get homesick; but she does get a little nostalgic for her family — her mother, her two sisters, and a brother — and she also misses some of the girlfriends with whom she went to school and who are not able to visit her here in Monaco very often.
All this talk of a movie comeback that went on at the time of our political crisis made me realize that my wife had actually gone from one type of pressure to another: from the world of moving pictures to the world of changing politics. In many ways, the former career prepared her for the latter. As a movie star, the Princess learned a sense of responsibility. She managed the very hard job of being a star and still maintained her independence, her integrity, the very things that were most important to her.
When she became Princess of Monaco, my wife continued to grow as a woman. I have already explained how she adapted herself to the differences in customs and language. Furthermore, she soon carried not only the responsibility of being a Princess and a wife but of being a mother. Gradually she has grown more secure, more sure of herself.
I think that I have also changed in some ways since our marriage seven years ago. I now look at problems in a calmer way, in a more relaxed manner than I did before. This helps me in my work, which follows me wherever I go. As a matter of fact, I have a folding aluminum desk and a portable typewriter, and even when we are on an official vacation, I take out the portable and write the necessary memos. But I do feel that I have acquired some of the calm that the Princess, too, has come to know, although it is not always easy to be tranquil in my position.
Being more at ease than before does not mean that my wife and I take things less seriously than we used to. On the contrary, having a family of our own makes us feel even more responsible. Thus, when we handle vital problems, Caroline and Albert are constantly in our minds. One of the primary concerns that we have for Caroline and Albert is their education. We have established in the Palace a school for five children. Of course, only two of them are ours. One of the other three is Isabelle, who is the same age as Caroline and the daughter of a Monégasque businessman. Another is the five-year-old son of my Minister of Finance. The fifth child is the son of an American, Mr. Martin Dale, who works in the Principality. The school is run by a French governess named Mademoiselle Françoise Vincent, a woman of twenty-three, who started with us last year after teaching in a Parisian private school. She deserves a medal, because, as you might imagine, it is not easy to put up with five children of this age.
The school follows a European schedule: It meets for two and a half hours in the morning and for two and a half hours in the afternoon, with Thursdays and Sundays off; and on Saturdays, it meets only in the morning. The children do not yet get formal grades, but we have instituted a system of “merits.” A child gets one of these “merits” for having learned a lesson particularly well or for having been good during a difficult class. When a child accumulates ten merits, he gets a surprise, perhaps a bar of chocolate or a coloring book. This year, however, Caroline and Isabelle, the oldest of the children, will start getting formal grades.
The subjects in the school range from kindergarten material to subjects taught in the first grade of European schools. These include writing and even calligraphy, a subject which Europeans value and which emphasizes the esthetics of handwriting and tries to produce beautiful penmanship. Needless to say, Albert’s penmanship is not yet beautiful; but he can print and read capital letters.
Caroline, of course, is farther advanced. In fact, she even takes dictation in French from Mademoiselle Vincent, who tells me that Caroline is quick and alert in class. Caroline has already learned how to add and subtract up to one thousand, and she also knows the principles of multiplication. Both she and Albert enjoy poetry and songs that Mademoiselle Vincent often uses to keep the children amused and attentive.
The school is conducted entirely in French. Therefore, my children speak French to their schoolmates. However, both Caroline and Albert are bilingual, an appropriate talent for children whose mother is American-born and whose father’s language is French. Albert is sometimes bilingual in a single sentence. For example, he will say: «Viens voir, Daddy. Look at cette jolie fleur» («Come and see, Daddy. Look at this pretty flower»). Both children switch from French to English and back without a pause. Sometimes when they talk together, one of them will be in the middle of an English sentence but will suddenly put a question to the other in French, without hesitation. They usually talk to me in French and to their mother in English, although sometimes we alternate, and I speak English to them while their mother uses French. So you can see that they are constantly using both languages, though they have developed the delicate gift of not forcing either language on a person who does not want to use it.
The nanny is English and speaks it to the children. She, too, is in her middle twenties, and her name is Maureen King. She has been with us since Albert was born. Before that, she was the nurse for the children of Jean Anouilh, the French playwright.
Many European and American parents find themselves in conflict with the nanny or nurse; but there is, happily, no conflict between us and the nanny. Perhaps this is because she is younger than most governesses and has been with us for five years.
When I was a small boy, I was raised by an English nanny who was a real authority in her own domain; in fact, I remember that there used to be quite a conflict between my parents and her. It was not resolved when, ultimately, I was sent to boarding school in England. I attended two public schools (they are called private schools in America), named Stowe and Summerfield. I also attended Le Rosey near Geneva, which I liked very much. Then I studied at the University of Montpellier and did my graduate work at the Ecole des Sciences Politiques in Paris, where I specialized in government and economics. The alumni of this school include many European statesmen and diplomats. Since I liked Le Rosey best as a preparatory school, I might send Albert there, though I still believe, from my own experience, that he should have a proper balance between family and school life.
Fortunately, my children have a rich and healthful home life. The Princess and I are very close to Caroline and Albert. This relationship is so close that we take the children with us on trips whenever possible. For example, when we went on a state visit to Ireland some time ago, the nurse came with Caroline and Albert to join us after the third day. And at the end of the official part of our visit, we spent two delightful weeks in Ireland with the children. I went fishing with Albert, and the whole family accompanied me when I played golf, which I greatly enjoyed there. Since my wife is of Irish descent, we were received with tremendous friendliness. Since this contact with the Irish, I, too, am particularly fond of them.
My wife and I read all kinds of books to the children. They particularly like those funny books of Dr. Seuss’, which do not make much sense to me, but which seem to amuse the children. When my wife takes her turn to read, you may find her, an American, reading to the children in French, while I, a Monégasque, may be reading to them in English. I guess this is good linguistic practice for us all.
Another example of how close we are to the children is the fun we have playing games together. Albert particularly enjoys playing a railroad engineer. He will make his mother and sister sit on chairs, which he pretends are seats in a train. Then he runs up and down, blowing his whistle and imitating the noise of the locomotive, like that of the Train Bleu, which we often take when we go to Paris. We like railroad travel, and we also fly a lot. As you may know, the Princess and I never travel in the same plane, because of the children. This is an understanding to which we came naturally after Caroline was born.
Though I am very close to the children, Caroline does not often come into my office, the way an American Caroline enters her father’s office, since my children do not live near the part of the Palace where I work, and so they have less opportunity to wander into my office. However, I do remember the time when Caroline did try to participate in matters of state. This happened when she was little and first discovered the use of the telephone. She would pick up the telephone in her nursery and very politely tell the Palace switchboard operator, «Could I speak to Daddy, please?». The operator would then ring my private line, and even when I was in conference or working on some urgent dispatch, I would take a moment to say hello to a young lady to whom I would shortly be reading Dr. Seuss.
People often wonder what the Princess and I do to keep the children from being spoiled. Well, we do the normal things that most parents do. For example, no matter how much love and pleasure we give the children, we try to be firm and consistent in our discipline. Whenever one of them does something that is bad, we deprive him or her of something they like. (This, by the way, does not involve desserts, because neither Caroline nor Albert cares a hang about desserts.) If one of them has done something really bad — such as hitting the other — I spank the culprit. I think that if you give a little spanking to a child, the child usually knows why he is being punished and it does not affect his relationship with the parents. Spanking, though, is not my favorite form of discipline. I have found it much more effective to talk to the child. It has been easy, for example, to explain the notions of good and bad to Caroline and Albert. I think that modern children understand things faster than children used to – or at least mine seem to do so. The vocabulary they have is fantastic for their age. They not only pick up words quickly, but they use them appropriately. One day I was having lunch with Albert that included boiled carrots, a dish I heartily dislike. After giving Albert a big spoonful of the carrots, I took a small nibble of mine and then pushed them aside. When he saw me do this, Albert said sternly, «Daddy, be reasonable, and eat your carrots». I was so startled to hear a child of five admonish me in this way that I ate the carrots.
When you worry about spoiling children, you must understand that they do not know the meaning of the word “spoiled.” Its meaning to me is simply the giving of too many presents or allowing the child to do anything he wants. As I have explained, we definitely do not allow Caroline and Albert to misbehave; my wife and I and Miss King keep a close watch on their behavior. As far as presents are concerned, the children usually get gifts to mark a special occasion, such as Christmas or birthdays or as a reward for having done something particularly meritorious. They also get presents when we return from a trip. But we do not give them things as a matter of course, and the gifts they get are intended not only to please but to instruct them.
Albert, for example, likes mechanical toys, and I encourage him to play with them. When he saw me working with my big tractor on the farm we have at Roc Agel, he longed so much for a tractor of his own that, on the next special occasion, I bought him a toy tractor. It is big enough for him to sit in, and it has become one of his favorite toys, in which he likes to imitate his father. He loves to push it around the farm as we both go about our “work.” I do not think that such presents spoil Albert. On the contrary, they help him appreciate the value of work, a quality most necessary for a Prince destined to function in this modern world.
It goes without saying that I am I training Albert to do more than drive a tractor about a farm. One day he will succeed me as Prince of Monaco. At present, he is much too young to go through any formal training for his future, although I remember that when it came time for me to rule, I did suffer, in the beginning, from a lack of specific preparation. But this preparation, I think, should come to Albert naturally and by easy stages. Thus, I allowed Albert to participate as the central figure in a public function last year. This was at the opening of the local Karting Club, which named its track after Albert. Albert went to the opening ceremonies and cut the ribbon, the first time he had ever done anything like this. In fact, he even rehearsed the ceremony once, to make sure that he would snip with appropriate style. I must admit that he carried off the occasion with great aplomb. I was proud of him. The members of the club were delighted and presented him with a little go-cart, which he now drives around with much interest.
As preparation for their adult lives as Prince and Princess, we take Albert and Caroline to many functions, such as the one we attend at Christmas. Caroline goes with her mother to the Red Cross to give away parcels. She likes to attend these charity affairs. She loves to get all dressed up, with her white gloves and a bonnet or a ribbon in her hair. During the ceremony, while her mother makes a speech or goes through various formalities, Caroline will stand quietly, something quite unusual for a girl of six. Of course, when the ceremony gets to be a little too long, she has an understandable tendency to get impatient. Her attention may wander, and she will start to fidget and look around. If she spots someone she recognizes in the audience, she may smile at the person and give a surreptitious little wave. But her mother tries to keep this sort of thing to a minimum, and she has succeeded remarkably without using any harsh or any chiding words.
The relationship between the Princess and the children is a wondrous thing to see. She treats them with gentleness and deep understanding. She has given them such qualities as kindness and consideration for people. Neither of the children, for example, ever orders the Palace personnel about. Caroline is touchingly solicitous of the people around her. Whenever she sees someone at the Palace with a cut or an injury, she asks about it and even offers suggestions of a remedy, which she might have picked up from her mother. Sometimes you will hear her warning someone quite seriously by saying, “Be sure to drive carefully,” or, “Don’t play with sharp things or matches.” She has even acquired a first-aid kit, with which she “treats” her dogs, especially Gemma, her favorite gray French poodle. Gemma is the only healthy dog I know who, from time to time, must submit to being bandaged with supplies from the first-aid kit.
Caroline is typically feminine and adores dolls and anything to do with them. She has built up a collection of about twenty dolls, and some of them are pretty fancy. Her favorite, though, is a beaten-up thing, which she takes on all her trips, together with a blanket to make sure the doll does not catch cold. The dolls provide Caroline with useful knowledge, for she makes clothes for them on a tiny sewing machine she was given. Her mother taught her how to use it, and I was amazed at how quickly she learned.
It is both touching and gratifying for me to observe the relationship that has developed between Caroline and her mother. Caroline, for example, loves to try on her mother’s hats and model them for her. Often she will also suggest to the Princess what particular dress she ought to wear to a certain function, saying, “I like this dress best, Mummy. You ought to wear it tonight.” We are very happy to see Caroline begin to develop an aesthetic sense at such an early age. But, if you ask me, the Princess herself has fun picking out hats and dresses for her daughter. Sometimes Caroline points out that the “help” she gives her mother as a fashion consultant is only a fair return for the technical instruction she received from the Princess in how to make dresses for her dolls.
Even if Caroline were not around to “guide” her, the Princess would still have a fine taste in clothes. She chooses her wardrobe carefully, usually during our trips to Paris (where we keep an apartment). But she also buys her clothes in Monaco and Nice and has some dresses that she designs made by the seamstress in the Palace. She has to pay extra attention to choosing clothes, because so many of her dresses are to be worn at official functions, such as state visits, charity affairs, and Palace receptions. Unfortunately, I cannot give you many details about her wardrobe. I can only say that it is very chic and that I know she prefers conservatively cut clothes to the frilly kind.
I have spoken at length about our relationship with our children because they provide us with our greatest joys and satisfactions. I think that the best preparation for any child — be he a future Prince, poet, or physicist — is the preparation you find in a happy home. We have tried to give them this happy personal life, as well as outside contacts. They play with their schoolmates, but also with children of the Palace personnel, whom they may call in for parties. When the two of them go out, they like to visit such places as the Zoological Gardens or the Oceanographic Museum. Since the Princess and the children share my love for animals, we often all go together as a family to visit the Zoological Gardens, which I opened to the public and where I try to keep the animals in healthy and relatively unrestricted conditions. Recently, all of us went to visit the carnival that came to Monte Carlo. Poor Albert was not pleased, because Caroline won some candy at one of the stands, while he got a set of six liqueur glasses.
But there will soon be compensation for Albert on other trips outside the Palace, much longer ones; for I look forward to taking him sailing on the new forty-one-meter twin-screw diesel cruiser that is being built for me in Holland. I sold my old boat, the Costa del Sol, because it was too slow. It used to be a Spanish orange boat. When we used to sail on it with the children, the more it shook, the happier they were, and they never got seasick. Albert would delight in running all over the boat and playing the sailor by trying to climb the ropes and ladders until his mother called him away from the game. Whenever he is at sea, Albert’s main passion is to steer the boat. He loves to get behind the wheel, look out, and slowly turn the spokes. In this, he takes after his father. I grew up beside the sea, and I love it. Albert not only likes sailing, but he takes the same joy in swimming as I do. One day, perhaps, I shall teach him skin diving — if his mother is not looking too closely.
I have told you about our family life at the Palace. But there is another part of our life, a very private part, that few people know about. On most weekends and during part of the summer, my family and I leave the Palace and go to a mountain retreat called Roc Agel, which is on Mount Agel, just over the hilltop in France. At this lovely and quiet spot seven hundred and fifty meters above the sea, we have a house in which we can really relax and have fun as a family; a place where we are free from the pressures and formalities of the Palace routine. It is particularly important to the Princess, for no woman can really feel at home running a Palace. For example, if she wants to make a change, she is often faced with a tradition. Moreover, it is difficult for a woman to run a house that has a hundred and fifty employees. There, we both felt that we should have some other place that is more of a home, some small house in which we could live easily and informally.
The house at Roc Agel is staffed only by a couple. I had it built in the Provençal style of a Mas (pronounced “ma”), with a heavy brown roof, massive beams, sturdy stone walls, and beautiful woodwork. The countryside lacks trees, as most of the countryside around here; but the land is green, and the children can run about and play as they want. And the view is one of the loveliest in the world — the Mediterranean like some phosphorescent carpet at your feet, edged by the harbor of Monte Carlo, with its white yachts bobbing at their moorings. On a clear day, we can see the faint coast of Corsica just on the horizon.
The house is two minutes from a golf course, but we have plenty of recreation right there. Even though the ground is rocky, we love to ride. The Princess and I have our horses, and the children have ponies. My horse is a small, nimble animal called a Camargue pony, the kind used by the cowboys of France’s counterpart of the American West, the Camargue region. The Princess rides a hunting horse, and sometimes it is my turn to worry when I see her galloping over the rocks.
Roc Agel lives up to its name by being long on rocks and short on soil. Until recently, much of my work there has been to get rid of the rocks by blasting and bulldozing them away. Now we’re putting in grass and growing hay for the horses.
No matter what the soil is like in Roc Agel, the magnificent view compels you to take pictures. Photography used to be a great hobby of mine, but during the past year, I have been too busy to take many pictures. Fortunately, the Princess has been able to assume my role as the family photographer. She often takes up her movie camera and sometimes even makes up little scenarios involving a game the children can play, which she can then photograph without their being aware of it. She now has a beautiful and complete record of our family life, which she proudly shows to a few intimate friends when they come to visit us. Of course, I like these films better than anything ever shown at a film festival.
Our routine at Roc Agel is a relaxing one. After sitting at a desk for five to six days, I like to get out into the open. Often, of course, state matters follow me even to our retreat. The Princess, too, likes to relax, and she may spend the morning attending to things in the house or experimenting with things in the kitchen. Sometimes she looks for recipes of elaborate dishes, Chinese or Indian, which she then tries out on me. I am not a great eater, and I do not like meat, especially the great chunks of it that are found sometimes in American cooking. But I do like Chinese, Indian, and some Mexican dishes. The food I liked best in America was the American version of Polynesian food.
And so while the Princess will prepare a curry or putter around the house, the children are usually outside, where I may work in the field or do my “tractor work” with Albert. Now that we are starting to grow things there, we can enjoy the fun of farming, with the help from two workers who come during the day.
After the Princess and I do our morning chores, we may have a barbecue-type lunch outside. In the afternoon, we might play some golf and finish off the day by having friends in for dinner. It is all very relaxed and casual.
Sometimes we leave Roc Agel to enjoy some of the artistic events down in Monte Carlo. Both the Princess and I love music, plays, opera, and the ballet.
It is my fondest wish to bring back to Monaco the Golden Age of Arts it enjoyed before and after World War I. As you all will remember, our small country saw the birth of one of the greatest ballet companies of history, the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. Their impresario, Diaghilev, had such fabulous stars as Nijinsky and Karsavina. Igor Stravinsky created some of his finest scores for the performances here. Monte Carlo saw not only a Golden Age of Ballet but a Golden Age of Bel Canto. Our opera goers heard Caruso, Chaliapin, Gigli, and Schipa. They assisted at the world premiere of Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust and of the French version of Prokofiev’s Love of Three Oranges.
This artistic tradition we intend to continue in our country, and even to extend it on a broader scale. Adapting to new forms of expression, in 1961, I inaugurated the International Television Festival of Monte Carlo, which brings together television artists and specialists from all over the world. I am particularly interested in this festival because, more than ever, I feel that television — though not yet an art — could and should become one. It is for this reason we must help television develop and find its true artistic form and its rightful vocation. An international jury each year awards prizes to the best television production. In addition, we have the Prince Rainier III Prize for musical composition. Each year, a monetary prize is awarded to a lyrical, orchestral, and chamber music work, and, what is more, young prize-winning composers have the opportunity to hear their works performed in public in Monte Carlo. The Rainier III Literary Prize is also given out yearly, to a writer whom an eminent jury considers to be the best, for his writings in the French language. American-born author Julian Green and France’s new Academy member Joseph Kessel both have won these prizes.
But in speaking of the international meetings and activities that have begun to function in the Principality since the inception of my reign, I would not like to forget the scientific side. We have created an International Center for the Study of Human Problems, an annual seminar which I think is quite unique in the world. Each year, it groups ten famous scientists from different fields for discussions of one problem common to humanity. They take up one given subject, each from the point of view of his particular field, and they have informed me that these meetings have helped them in their advance toward the exchange of knowledge. Another scientific endeavor over which I have the honor to preside is the International Commission for the Scientific Exploration of the Mediterranean, composed of twenty-two member nations and some observers. In addition, our Oceanographic Museum has initiated exploration of new fields, such as the scientific feeding of fish, a manner of expanding the food supply of the world that is now threatened by the population explosion. The museum also examines nutritive values of such sea products as plankton and algae.
Parallel to this research of the sea around us, in which I have always been interested, is the work carried on in cooperation with Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the world-famous marine scientist who is director of the Oceanographic Museum here, founded by my great-grandfather, Prince Albert. Some of this research is carried out on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency, of which Monaco is a member. It covers the effects of radioactive isotopes on certain forms of sea life. Thus, while the great powers turn their efforts to outer space, Monaco is exploring depths of the sea, an area that may be as important for human life as the planets during the years that face us.
To carry out all these activities, I might add, my country is one of the few in the world to be in the black. In fact, our annual budget carries about a year’s reserve of money in it.
Contrary to some popular ideas, only a small percentage of our budget comes from the famous Monte Carlo Casino. At present, we get about four percent of our revenues from the casino. We get twice as much, for example, from the issue of stamps. A new series, by the way, will come out in the spring, to celebrate the United Nations Children’s Charter. There will be seven stamps: one bearing twin portraits of Caroline and Albert, one designed by a professional stamp designer, and five stamps drawn by the children of my country, chosen in a Monaco-wide competition.
Speaking of the casino, I must add that I am not interested in that type of gambling. I am not a gambler, and the rare exception for me is betting on the horses. When I was at the Kentucky Derby a few years ago, I noticed a horse called Cane Run that was posted as ninety-eight to one. Actually, the odds were a hundred and three to one, but the board could not hold three numbers. The odds were so appealing that I bet on Cane Run — five dollars. It was the race before the principal Derby race, and the rain was so heavy that Cane Run looked more like a canoe than a racehorse. But it won, and I made $500, although even this bit of luck did not turn me into a fervent gambler.
Thus, in answer to the constant interest expressed in our land and my family, I have tried, through this personal contact, to give you a glimpse of our life here in Monaco. I have attempted to show you something of how we live and how we try to solve some of our everyday problems. Of course, this can only be a coup d’oeil, and it does not pretend to go deeply into the grave and more complicated issues that face our country. But I hope that it has helped at least a little to bring you a better understanding of us.
Color photos by Howell Conant
B&W photos by HSH Prince Rainier III