Monday, August 15, 2011

The Monaco Red Cross Gala: A Brief History

With this week's passing of the 63rd annual Red Cross Gala, the editors of The Royal Fanzine thought it would be a good idea to explore the history of Monaco's annual summer Gala. Marcia Tracy reports.
The Monegasque Red Cross Gala -- or, Gala de la Croix Rouge -- has been held every late July/early August in the Salle des Etoiles in the Sporting Club -- Sporting d'Eté de Monte-Carlo -- since it's inception in 1948, by the present sovereign's great-grandfather, Prince Louis II. It's presidency is served by the sovereign, Prince Albert II. Until 1957, the year after Prince Rainier III gave Monaco a new princess, the event remained low-key. The purpose of the ball is to raise funds for Monaco's division of The Red Cross. It was in 1957 that the Red Cross Gala became what it is today. Since 1957, the ball has hosted performers including: Eddie Fischer, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Gloria Gaynor, Frank Sinatra, Julio Iglesais, Elton John, Liza Minelli, The Beach Boys, Gloria Estefan and this year's performer was Joe Cocker.
Usual attendees from the Princely family include: Prince Albert, Princess Charlene, Princess Stephanie, and Baron Jean-Leonard Taubert-Natta (however, he was last seen in 2007), Melanie-Antoinette and Elisabeth-Anne  de Massy. On the rare occasion, Princess Caroline (last seen at the 2008 ball before this year's event) and Pierre Casiraghi (last seen in 2006) join the family as well. In recent years, Princess Charlene's younger brother Gareth and his girlfriend, Roisin Gavlin have joined in on the fun as well-Gareth attended in 2009, and again attended with Gavlin this year. When Princess Antoinette was alive, she often attended the ball as well, last attending with the family in 2007.
Of course, throughout the years, like many events involving the Princely family of Monaco, the Red Cross Ball is no exception to dramatic moments. In 2002, Princess Stephanie canceld her Red Cross Ball appearance at the last minute due to a dispute with her sister over her chosen date for the evening-Princess Stephanie had chosen to ask  Richard Lucas, her father's married butler. The story goes that Princess Caroline asked her sister and her chosen date to lay low to avoid further scandal. Of course, Princess Stephanie would have nothing to do with her sister's request, and the two ended up in a large argument-leaving their father and brother in the middle. Typically, until the ball of 2010 when he began opening the ball with his then fiancee, Prince Albert would open the dancing with his baby sister. Prince Rainier was just in the middle, trying not to take sides with his two daughters. In 2002, it was decided that instead of Prince Albert and someone else opening the dancing that everyone at the royal table sat it out while the band played on.

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