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Albert Grimaldi

Albert II
Prince of Monaco
Reign 6 April 2005 – present
Predecessor Rainier III
Heiress presumptive Caroline
Ministers of State
Regency 31 March 2005 – 6 April 2005
Spouse Charlene Wittstock (m. 2011)
Jazmin Grace Grimaldi (Illegitimate)
Alexandre Coste (Illegitimate)
House House of Grimaldi
Father Rainier III, Prince of Monaco
Mother Grace Kelly
Born (1958-03-14) 14 March 1958 (age 56)
Prince's Palace, Monaco
Religion Roman Catholicism

Albert II[1][2] (Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi; born 14 March 1958) is the reigning monarch of the Principality of Monaco, and head of the Princely House of Grimaldi. He is the son of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and the American actress Grace Kelly. His sisters are Caroline, Princess of Hanover, heiress presumptive to the Crown, and Princess Stéphanie. In July 2011, Prince Albert married Charlene Wittstock.[3]

Prince Albert is one of the wealthiest royals in the world, with assets valued at more than $1 billion,[4] which includes vast amounts of land in both Monaco and France. While his real estate does not include the Prince's Palace, it does include holdings in the Société des bains de mer de Monaco.[5][6]

Early life

Albert was born in the Prince's Palace of Monaco. His godmother was Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain. Albert attended high school at the Lycee Albert Premier, graduating with distinction in 1976. He was a camper and later a counselor for six summers at Camp Tecumseh on Lake Winnipesaukee, Moultonborough, New Hampshire in the 1970s. He spent a year training in various princely duties, and enrolled at Amherst College in Massachusetts in 1977 as Albert Grimaldi, studying political science, economics, music, and English literature, and also joined Chi Psi fraternity. He speaks French, English, German and Italian.

He spent the summer of 1979 touring Europe and the Middle East with the Amherst Glee Club and graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Albert also undertook an exchange program with the University of Bristol, at the Alfred Marshall School of Economics and Management in 1979. Albert was an enthusiastic sportsman, participating in cross country, javelin throwing, handball, judo, swimming, tennis, rowing, sailing, skiing, squash and fencing. He is a patron of Monaco's football teams. He competed in the bobsled at every Winter Olympics from Calgary to Salt Lake City. He has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1985. His maternal grandfather John B. Kelly, Sr., and maternal uncle John B. Kelly, Jr., were both Olympic medal winners in rowing and were actively involved in the Olympic movement. The press reported the prince refused any special treatment during his Olympic stints, and lived in the same bare-bones quarters as all the other athletes.[7] On 25 October 2002, Albert visited Miami, Florida for a World Olympians Association fund-raiser at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The group's mission was to have the 100,000 Olympians get involved with their communities and talk to young athletes about dedication and training.


On 7 March 2005, Albert's father Rainier III, Prince of Monaco was admitted to a hospital in the principality; he was later moved to an intensive care ward. The Prince was being treated for breathing, kidney, and heart trouble. On 31 March 2005, the Palace of Monaco announced that Hereditary Prince Albert would take over the duties of his father as regent since Rainier was no longer able to exercise his functions as sovereign. This decision was reached by the Crown Council of Monaco, a body made up of notable local figures with residual powers to make judgments about certain constitutional matters. The 47-year-old prince spent his first day as regent of Monaco caring for his critically ill 81-year-old father, who was Europe's longest-serving then-current monarch and the world's third longest-serving then-current monarch.


On 6 April 2005, Prince Rainier III died and Hereditary Prince Albert became Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco.

The first part of Prince Albert II's enthronement as ruler of the Principality was on 12 July 2005, after the end of the three-month mourning period for his father. A morning Mass at Saint Nicholas Cathedral presided over by the Archbishop of Monaco, the Most Reverend Bernard Barsi, formally marked the beginning of his reign. Afterward Albert II returned to the princely palace to host a garden party for 7,000 Monégasques born in the principality. In the courtyard, the Prince was presented with two keys of the city as a symbol of his investiture. The evening ended with a spectacular fireworks display on the waterfront.

The second part of his investiture was on 19 November 2005. Albert was enthroned at Saint Nicholas Cathedral. His family was there in attendance, including his elder sister (and now his heiress presumptive) Princess Caroline with her husband Ernst, Prince of Hanover and three of her four children, Andrea, Pierre and Charlotte; as well as his younger sister Princess Stéphanie, his paternal aunt Princess Antoinette, Baroness of Massy, his godson, Jean-Léonard Taubert-Natta de Massy, and his cousin Elisabeth-Anne de Massy. Royalty from 16 delegations were present for the festivities throughout the country. The evening ended with an opera performance in Monte Carlo.

Albert's reign

Albert continues the policy, initiated by previous rulers of the statelet, of using his position to draw the world's attention to the need to protect the (marine) environment. Just like his great-great-grandfather Albert I he traveled to Spitsbergen in July 2005. During this trip, he visited the glaciers "Lillihöök" and "Monaco". Prince Albert II also engaged in a Russian Arctic expedition, reaching the North Pole on Easter, 16 April 2006.[8] As a result, he is the first incumbent head of state to have reached the North Pole.

Prince Albert is the Vice-Chairman of the American charity founded in 1982, after his mother's death, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, which supports, as Princess Grace did in her lifetime, emerging artists in theater, dance and film.

In 2006, Prince Albert created the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which continues the Principality of Monaco's commitment by supporting sustainable, and ethical projects around the world. The foundation focus on three main challenges, climate change, and developing renewable energies; combating the loss of biodiversity; and water management (improving universal access to clean water).[9]

Prince Albert is also a Global Adviser to Orphans International.

According to a 2011 Piers Morgan report, Prince Albert is one of the most popular monarchs in the world.[10]

Personal life and relationships

Over the years, there was much discussion of the prince's continual bachelor status. Although he had received much press attention for dating well-known fashion models and actresses, his apparent disinclination to marry gave rise to rumors that he is homosexual, as opposed to being a playboy like some famous Hollywood actors like George Clooney (Roman Catholicism frowns upon the divorce and remarriage common among such actors). Prince Albert has consistently denied suggestions of homosexuality, most notably in a 1994 interview published in the French magazine Madame Figaro. "At first it was amusing", he said, "but it becomes very irritating in the long term to hear people say that I am homosexual".[11] He has since confirmed that he is the father of two children, and in July 2011, Prince Albert married Charlene Lynette Wittstock, now Charlene, Princess of Monaco.

In October 2005, the German magazine Bunte reported that Prince Albert was dating Telma Ortiz Rocasolano, a sister-in-law of the Prince of Asturias. However, in November 2005, the Prince instructed his lawyer, Thierry Lacoste, to commence legal proceedings against the French newspaper France Dimanche for violation of privacy and false information regarding the story.

Prince Albert reportedly owns the Pacha III, a 36.25 m (119 ft) yacht built in 1936; moored at Port Hercules.[12][13][14] He also owns a Dassault Aviation Falcon 7X, a fourteen passenger leisure jet, currently parked at Nice Côte d'Azur Airport.[15][16] Prince Albert is a well known automotive enthusiast, owning vehicles like the BMW Hydrogen 7,[17] the Lexus LS 600h,[18] the Lexus RX 400h,[18] and the Toyota Prius PHV,[18][19] Although Prince Albert does not directly own the Prince's Palace, he does own personal homes in both La Turbie,[20][21] and Marchais.[22]

Children born out of wedlock

Jazmin Grace Grimaldi

In 1992, a California woman, Tamara Rotolo, filed a paternity suit against the prince, claiming that he was the father of her daughter, whom she named Jazmin Grace Grimaldi. Prince Albert was also listed as the father on the child's Riverside County, California, birth certificate, according to the website of the Desert Sun. However, the case, which went to trial in 1993, eventually was dismissed by Superior Court Judge Graham Anderson Cribbs, who claimed that there was "insufficient contact between [Prince] Albert and the state of California to justify hearing a suit there"[23] agreeing with an assertion by the prince's lawyer, Stanley Arkin, that the California court had no jurisdiction.

On 31 May 2006, after DNA test results confirmed the child's parentage, Prince Albert admitted, in a statement from his lawyer, that he is Jazmin's father. He also extended an invitation for the girl to study, and live in Monaco.

Alexandre Coste

In May 2005, Nicole Coste, a former Air France flight attendant,originally from Togo (West Africa), claimed that her youngest son, whom she calls Alexandre Coste, is Prince Albert's son, proven by DNA tests conducted by Swiss technicians working on orders from the Monegasque government. She further claimed the prince had signed a notarized certificate confirming paternity but that she had not received a copy of it. The French weekly Paris Match published a ten-page interview with Coste and included photographs of the prince holding and feeding the child. Coste also told Paris Match that she was living in the prince's Paris apartment, and receiving an allowance from him while pretending to be the girlfriend of one of his friends in order to maintain privacy. She also said that the prince had last seen the boy in February 2005. A spokesman for Prince Albert had no comment, though upon news of Coste's claims, the prince's lawyer, Thierry Lacoste, announced that "A judicial strategy will be determined within the next few days."

In mid-May 2005, Lacoste announced that as a result of the international publicity over the revelations of the prince's son, Prince Albert is suing the Daily Mail, Bunte, and Paris Match for delving too deeply into his private life.

On 6 July 2005, a few days before he was enthroned on 12 July, Prince Albert officially confirmed via his lawyer Lacoste that the 22-month-old is his biological son.[24]

Other purported children

In an earlier paternity suit, Bea Fiedler, a German topless model whom the Daily Telegraph described as a "sex-film star", claimed her son Daniel was the prince's son. This suit was reportedly dismissed. A blood test, which was refused by the judge, did not prove that the prince was the father of Fiedler's son.[25]


Prince Albert married former South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock on 1 July 2011. They announced their engagement on 23 June 2010.[26] They had been seen together since 10 February 2006, at the opening ceremony of the Torino Olympics when Prince Albert was accompanied by Wittstock. They were seen again together at the Monaco Grand Prix. The Prince and Wittstock attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and both the "Bal de la Rose", and Princess Grace Awards Gala in 2009. They also attended the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics. As a couple, they also attended the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling in Stockholm four days before their own engagement was announced and the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton on 29 April 2011. The wedding took place over two days: the civil marriage ceremony took place on 1 July 2011, followed by the religious ceremony on 2 July 2011.[27]

Succession issues

As Rainier III's health declined, his son's lack of legitimate children became a matter of public and political concern due to the legal and international consequences. If Prince Albert were to die without lawful heirs, triggering Article 3 of the 1918 Franco-Monegasque Treaty according to which the Principality of Monaco would, ipso facto, become a protectorate of the French Republic.[28] Prior to 2002, Monaco's constitution stipulated that only the last reigning prince's "direct and legitimate" descendants could inherit the crown.

On 2 April 2002, Monaco promulgated Princely Law 1.249, which provides that if a reigning prince dies without surviving legitimate issue, the throne passes to his legitimate siblings and their legitimate descendants of both sexes, according to the principle of male-preference primogeniture.[29] In October 2005, (after Albert's accession to the throne), this law took full effect when ratified by France, pursuant to the Franco-Monégasque Treaty regulating relations between the Principality of Monaco and its neighbor. Prince Albert's sisters and their legitimate children thereby retained the right to inherit the Monegasque throne, which they would have otherwise lost upon the death of Prince Rainier.

Under the current constitution neither Jazmin Rotolo nor Alexandre Coste is in the line of succession to the Monegasque Throne as they are not Prince Albert's legitimate children, and he emphasized their ineligibility to inherit the crown in statements confirming his paternity.[8][24] Monegasque law stipulates that any non-adulterine child is legitimised by the eventual marriage of his/her parents, thereupon obtaining the rights to which that child would have been entitled if born in lawful marriage. Thus Alexandre would become Monaco's heir apparent under current law if Albert were to ever marry his son's mother. But in a 2005 exchange with American reporter Larry King, Albert stated that this will not happen.[30]

The Prince's older sister, Princess Caroline, remains first in the order of succession. Although she is only the heiress presumptive and not heiress apparent, Caroline bears the traditional title of Hereditary Princess of Monaco according to the Grimaldi house law.[31] Until Prince Albert has legitimate descendants born of a dynastic marriage, Caroline is first, and her son Andrea Casiraghi, though untitled, is second in succession to the throne.

Environmental issues

Year of the Dolphin

The year 2007 was declared as (International) Year of the Dolphin[32] by the United Nations and United Nations Environment Programme. Prince Albert served as the International Patron of the 'Year of the Dolphin', saying "The Year of the Dolphin gives me the opportunity to renew my firm commitment towards protecting marine biodiversity. With this strong initiative we can make a difference to save these fascinating marine mammals from the brink of extinction."

Jardin Animalier

The Zoological Garden of Monaco (Jardin Animalier) was founded by Prince Rainier in 1954. Rainier was petitioned unsuccessfully for many years by Virginia McKenna, founder of the Born Free Foundation, to release a pair of leopards at the zoo.[33] Prince Albert met McKenna after his ascension to the throne, and agreed to release the leopards as well the zoo's hippo and camel. He intends to convert the Jardin into a zoo for children.[33]

Expedition to Antarctica

In January 2009, Prince Albert left for a month-long expedition to Antarctica, where he visited 26 scientific outposts and met with climate-change experts in an attempt to learn more about the impact of global warming on the continent.[34] During the trip he stopped at the South Pole, making him the only incumbent head of state to have visited both poles.[35][36][37]

CITES and bluefin tuna

In June 2009, Prince Albert co-authored an open letter to the Wall Street Journal with Charles Clover, the author of The End of the Line, a book about overfishing and ocean conservation issues that had recently been made into a documentary by Rupert Murray. In the letter, Prince Albert acknowledges that bluefin tuna has been severely overfished in the Mediterranean, and decries the common European Union practice of awarding inflated quotas to bluefin fleets.[38] He announced that Monaco would seek to award endangered species status to the Mediterranean bluefin Thunnus thynnus, (also called the Northern bluefin) under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). If upheld by the voting CITES delegates, this proposal would effectively ban the international trade in Mediterranean bluefin. This was the first time a nation had called for the inclusion of Mediterranean bluefin under CITES since Sweden[38] at the 1992 CITES Conference, which was vehemently opposed by Japan who eventually threatened retaliation through trade barriers.[39] Sweden withdrew its proposal.

On 16 July 2009, France declared that it too would seek to have Mediterranean bluefin listed as an endangered species.[40] Only hours later, the United Kingdom followed suit.[41]

Roger Revelle Prize

On 23 October 2009, Prince Albert was awarded the Roger Revelle Prize for his efforts to protect the environment and to promote scientific research.[42] This award was given to Prince Albert by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.[43] Prince Albert is the second recipient of this prize.[44]


In 1996, Prince Albert received the Eagle Award from the United States Sports Academy. The Eagle Award is the Academy's highest international honor and was awarded to Prince Albert for his significant contributions in promoting international harmony, peace and goodwill through the effective use of sport.[45]

In popular culture

In the film The Social Network, Albert II is played by actor James Shanklin.[46]

Commemorative coins

As Monaco's head of state, Prince Albert is depicted on coins, including collectors' coins, with very rare exceptions. One of the most recent examples is the €5 silver Prince Albert II commemorative coin, the first commemorative coin with his effigy on it, minted in 2008. On the obverse, the prince is depicted in profile with his name on the top of the coin. On the reverse, the Grimaldi coat of arms appears; around it, the words "Principauté de Monaco" (Principality of Monaco) also appear along with the nominal monetary value of the coin.[47]

Other roles

Titles, styles, and honours

Titles and styles

Albert has held two positions:

As the prince, his official shortened title is His Serene Highness Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco; this does not include the many other styles claimed by the Grimaldi family (see Sovereign Prince of Monaco for a complete list of titles).


Main article: List of honours of the Monegasque Princely Family by country

Monegasque orders

  • Grand Master and Grand Cross of the Order of Saint-Charles (Grand Cross, 13 March 1979; Grand Master since 6 April 2005)[49]
  • Grand Master of the Order of the Crown (since 6 April 2005)
  • Grand Master and Grand Cross of the Order of Grimaldi (Grand Cross, 18 April 1958; Grand Master since 6 April 2005)[49]
  • Grand Master of the Order of Cultural Merit (since 6 April 2005)

Military appointments

Foreign orders

Non-State foreign orders

Other awards

  •  France: Grand Prix Humanitaire de France (6 March 2007)
  • FIODS: Medal of the International Merit of Blood (12 March 1994)
  •  Pahang: Rise in the College of Darjah Kerabat Diraja Pahang (7 November 1997)


Patrilineal descent

Albert's patriline is his line of descent through males, i.e., from father to son, as shown below.

  1. Bertrand de Chalençon, mentioned 1179
  2. Guillaume de Chalençon, died 1229
  3. Bertrand de Chalençon, died 1272
  4. Bertrand de Chalençon, 1240–1295
  5. Guy de Chalençon, 1279–1324
  6. Guiot de Chalençon
  7. Guillaume III, Baron de Chalençon, died 1411
  8. Pierre Armand, Baron de Chalençon, died 1447
  9. Louis-Armand, Vicomte de Polignac
  10. Guillaume-Armand, Vicomte de Polignac, died 1473
  11. Guillaume de Polignac
  12. Francois-Armand de Polignac, 1514–1582
  13. Louis-Armand of Polignac, 1556–1584
  14. Gaspard Francois de Polignac, 1579–1659
  15. Louis-Armand de Polignac, 1608–1692
  16. Scipion Sidoine de Polignac, 1660–1739
  17. Louis, Marquis de Polignac, 1716–1792
  18. Jules, Duc de Polignac, 1745–1817
  19. Camille Henri, Count de Polignac, 1781–1855
  20. Count Charles de Polignac, 1824–1881
  21. Count Maxence de Polignac, 1857–1936
  22. Prince Pierre, Duke of Valentinois, 1895–1964
  23. Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, 1923–2005
  24. Albert II, Prince of Monaco, 1958 –

Albert II was born in the Palais Princier in Monaco-Ville, making him a native Monégasque.


External links

  • Princely House of Monaco
  • Portrait of Albert II of Monaco - The postage stamp of Monaco, Office des Emissions de Timbres Poste de Monaco
  • documentary with intimate prince Albert (2005), 52-minute documentary produced and directed by Thibaut Faucon.
  • Photo of Prince Albert inspecting Guard outside Palace on day of Accession
  • Princess Grace Foundation-USA website
  • YouTube – traditional New Year's Day speech, 1 January 2007 (French)
  • YouTube – interview at the Monaco Media Forum, 11 July 2007, in which Prince Albert speaks with a perfect American accent to a group of bloggers
Albert II, Prince of Monaco
Cadet branch of the House of Polignac
Born: 14 March 1958
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Rainier III
Prince of Monaco
Heiress presumptive:
Monegasque royalty
Preceded by
Hereditary Prince of Monaco
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Rainier III
Marquis of Baux
Olympic Games
Preceded by
David Lajoux
Flagbearer for  Monaco
Calgary 1988
Albertville 1992
Lillehammer 1994
Succeeded by
Gilbert Bessi

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