Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Royal Profile: HSH Prince Albert of Monaco

Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi (aka HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco) was born 14 March 1958, the only son and middle child of HSH Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco. He was surrounded by two sisters-one older and one younger. As a child, he and older sister Princess Caroline did not get along-one time she even destroyed a picture book because he simply touched it and she would often bite him when mom and dad weren’t looking! He has a wonderful relationship with his sister, Princess Stephanie of Monaco, Countess of Polinac, the two are said to be extremely close. He is the godfather of his nephews and one of his nieces, Pierre Rainier Stefano Casiraghi (the son of older sister Princess Caroline)and Pauline Grace Maguy and Louis Robert Paul Ducruet (the children of Princess Stephanie) and his first cousin once removed, Baron Jean-Leonard Taubert-Natta de Massy who is the son of his cousin Baroness Elisabeth-Anne de Massy.

Like his sisters, Prince Albert attended local Monaco primary schools, only he was the only one to graduate with the French baccalauréat  from Lycée Albert 1er in 1976. After graduating from Lycée Albert 1er, Prince Albert spent a year gaining familiarity with the running of the principality, then went to university in the United States. He attended UMASS Amherst, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors economics, psychology, English literature, the history of art, anthropology, geology, philosophy, sociology, German and music in 1981. After graduation, he entered the French Navy, where he served on the French Navy's helicopter-carrier "Jeanne d'Arc", with the rank of Ship-of-the-Line Ensign (2nd class). Presently, he is currently a reserve Lieutenant Commander in the French navy. From 1983 until 1985, Prince Albert worked in various international organizations in the fields of communication, financial management and marketing ("Morgan Guaranty Trust", in New York, "Moët-Hennesy", in Paris, "Rogers & Wells" law firm,"Wells Rich and Greene" in New York.

Since 28th May 1993, the Prince has led the Monegasque delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Since the opening of the 48th Session in September 1993 in New York, Prince Albert has regularly taken the floor on behalf of the Principality of Monaco. On 5th October 2004, H.S.H. the Prince presided over the delegation of Monaco in Strasbourg for the official ceremony of accession of the Principality to the Council of Europe as the 46th member state of that organisation. In April 2006, H.S.H. Prince Albert II visited the North Pole by dog sled from the Russian base of Barneo 120 kilometres away. This journey was the opportunity for him to pay tribute to his great-great grandfather, Prince Albert I of Monaco, a pioneer of modern oceanography, who, in 1906, set out to Spitzberg, in the archipelago of Svalbard, the most successful of his four Arctic exploration campaigns.The trip also helped to raise the world's awareness of the planetary challenges which, in the short term, represent risks related to climate change and the dangers of industrial pollution. In June 2006, H.S.H. the Prince set up the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation dedicated to protecting the environment. It encourages sustainable and fair management of natural resources and places man at the centre of its projects. It supports the implementation of innovative and ethical solutions in three broad areas: climate change, water and biodiversity. In January 2009, Prince Albert II of Monaco undertook a three week scientific journey in the Antarctic. He visited a large number of scientific stations and rejoined the South Pole in the company of the explorer Mike Horn. They made a film of this journey "Antarctique 2009, Terre en Alerte" [Antarctic 2009, Earth on Alert] which was presented to the Principality's inhabitants in April 2009.

Prince Albert is a committed and avid sportsman. He participated in the Winter Olympics from 1988-2002, with the Monaco Bobsled Team. Since 1985, Prince Albert has been a member of the International Olympic Comittee. He is President of the Monegasque Olympic Committee. He is Honorary President of the International Union of Modern Pentathlon and the International Athletics Foundation.He is also a member of the Honorary Board of the International Paralympic Committee.

Like many other royals, Prince Albert has had his share of scandals. Robert Eringer, Albert II’s intelligence adviser from 2002 to 2008, alleges the prince, as president of Monaco's Olympic Committee, accepted expensive gifts from Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, and Sergei Pugachev, a Russian banker, in return for voting for Russia to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. He would have received a dacha, a Polar trip, a fishing trip and a state dinner. In 1986, he was accused of fathering a son with Bea Fiedler, an accusation that was proven false after a blood test was performed. He has confessed to fathering two children with two different women, neither of whom he married. His two known children are 20 year old Jazmin Grace Grimaldi with former waitress turned real estate agent tuned model Tamara Jean Rotolo of Palm Desert, California, USA and 8 year old Alexandre Eric Stephane Coste with Togolese-French former Air France flight attendant Nicole Coste. Just prior to his July 2011 wedding to long-time girlfriend Charlene Lynette Wittstock, there was a rumor that he had fathered another illegitimate child from another woman while dating Wittstock. The Palace Princier extensively denied that rumor and there has been no news of the incident since his marriage to Wittstock. 

Over the years, Prince Albert has accumulated numerous awards, from honorary doctorate degrees, to various other honours. Prince Albert holds honorary doctorates from Pontifical University of Maynooth in Ireland (in Philiosphy, 1996), Honorary Professor of International Studies at Tarrant County College, Forth Worth, Texas, United States (2000), The Docteur Honoris Causa Insignia of Nice-Sophia-Antipolis University (2009) and The Docteur Honoris Causa Insignia at The Portalis Law and Political Science Institute of Aix en Provence in 2011. He also is an honorary member of the Geographical Society of Russia (2009), and the Ligurian Academy of Science and Letters and of the Italian Geographical society (2010). He has received numerous international awards including:Grand Officier of the Order of the Lion (Senegal, 1977), Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (1983, Holy See), Medal of the International Merit of Blood (International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations, 1994), Rise in the College of Darjah Kerabat Diraja Pahang (Pahang, 1997), Grand Cross of the Ordre National du Mérite ( 1997, France), Grand Prix Humanitaire de France (France, 2007), Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, 1997), Grand Cross of the Order of the Niger (Nigeria, 1998), Grand Collar of the Order of the Liberator of the Slaves José Simeón Cañas (2002, El Salvador), Grand Cross of the Order of Vasco Núñez de Balboa (2002, Panama), Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun (2003, Peru), Knight Grand Cross with Grand Cordon of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italy, 2005), Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (2006, France), Grand Cross of the National Order of Juan Mora Fernández (2009, Costa Rica), Knight Grand Cross of the Grand Order of King Tomislav (2009, Croatia), Commander of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques (France, 2009), Collar of the Order pro merito Melitensi (Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, 2009) Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Danilo I (Montenegro), and Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, 2011). He has also been awarded numerous times domestically, in Monaco, by his father. He has received Grand Master and Grand Cross of the Order of Grimaldi (Grand Cross, 18 April 1958; Grand Master since 6 April 2005), Grand Master and Grand Cross of the Order of St. Charles (Grand Cross, 13 March 1979; Grand Master since 6 April 2005), Grand Master of the Order of the Crown (since 6 April 2005) and Grand Master of the Order of Cultural Merit (since 6 April 2005). He serves on many committees, as an honoray member and honorary president including: Monaco's delegation to the United Nations (President), President, Monaco Red Cross (President), Monaco's Olympic Committee (President), Association Mondiale des Amis de l'Enfance (Honorary President), The Automobile Club de Monaco (Honorary President), Jumping International de Monte Carlo (Honorary President), Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (Patron), and Peace and Sport Organization (Patron). 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.

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