MONACO. In January 2019, Prince Albert II officially launched a commemoration cycle at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco in honor of his great-great-grandfather the “Prince Scientist” Albert I of Monaco. For the occasion, H.S.H. the Prince wished to demonstrate his unwavering faith in the Oceanographic Institute by making it the symbolic gift of Prince Albert I’s Academician of the Sciences’ bicorne hat.
In return, the Oceanographic Institute, represented by its director-General, Mr Robert Calcagno and by the vice-President, Mrs Marie-Pierre Gramaglia, gifted Prince Albert II a tie pin that once belonged to Prince Albert I, and had been kept as a memento by his great friend and fellow oceanographer, King Carlos I of Portugal. A steering committee and an executive committee, chaired by H.E. Mr. Robert Fillon, Ambassador of Monaco in Italy, including many monegasque personalities, high political authorities and institutions responsible for the work of the “Prince scientist”, were appointed by Sovereign order of 14 December 2018. In his speech, the Prince Albert I’ s great –great- grandson and current Sovereign of the Principality of Monaco recalled his predecessor’s story and asked the committees to be as inventive as possible to demonstrate the permanence of the prince scientis’s spirit, whose centenary of disappearance will mark 2022. In fact Albert I, in full Albert-Honoré-Charles Grimaldi, was born on November 13th, 1848 and he passed away aged 73 on June 26th, 1922. He was 41 years old when he ascended the throne, becoming the eleventh prince of Monaco upon the death of his father Charles III in 1889. Prince Charles III (1818-1889) is notable for having come up with the idea that a district in Monaco could be put aside by developing aristocratic tourism for bathing in the Mediterranean and gambling. Prince Charles gave his name to that place which, since it is raised above the rest of the land, is now called Monte-Carlo. The combination of the natural assets of the Principality and the society life which developed there attracted artists and members of European high society. The financial windfall that Monte-Carlo provided led the way to modern-day Monaco, allowing the Principality to become involved in projects which diversified the economy. From 1889, Albert was the attentive heir to the huge amount of money created by his father. Actually, in 1863 Charles III had given the privilege of managing gambling in Monaco through the intermediary of the SBM (Monegasque tourism establishment which now owns gambling) to entertainment and leisure properties) and the Cercle des Etrangers to the responsible for the success of the Hamburg Casino in Germany, Mr François Blanc (1806 – 1877), nicknamed the “Magician of Monte-Carlo”.
Albert I established in his way to govern a more cultured policy, closer to the needs of subjects and especially dedicated to science. He wanted to make Monaco an example, and to take its distance from the now traditional image of a principality dedicated to the game and the superficial pleasures. He was seaman, amateur oceanographer, and patron of the sciences, whose contributions to the development of oceanography included innovations in oceanographic equipment and technique and the founding and endowment of institutions to further basic research. In addition to giving Monaco a constitution in 1911, thanks to the his actions the Principality of Monaco was, at the hinge of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a centre of diffusion of pacifism. This action originates from the humanist convictions of the Prince, and is the political prolongation of a scientific activity lived itself as an experience in the service of human progress. The ruler of the smallest Mediterranean state of his era has constantly wanted to give meaning to his reign. He has largely managed to do so by attaching his name to oceanography. While the Mediterranean has occupied a minority position in its work, it is nonetheless the sea on which it builds its major work: the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, a tribute to a science inseparable from the peaceful ideal.
This building, then under construction, welcomed in 1902 the Universal Congress of Peace which vividly marked the active involvement of the prince in the pacifist cause. The planned dream of making Monaco a focal point of pacifism continued with the creation of the International Peace Institute in 1903. Albert I also wanted to be a diplomat and a man of influence in the service of peace. Representative of the old monarchical Europe, he strove to play his good relations with “his cousins the Kings”, in particular with the Emperor William II. Albert I deserves a large reputation of conciliatory wisdom, mediating within the European Chanceries in the attempt to avoid the outbreak of the First World War.
Albert’s love of the sea developed at an early age, and as a young man he served in the Spanish Navy. Later, he conducted his own oceanographic surveys on a series of increasingly large and well-equipped ships. His active involvement in oceanography continued even after he became ruler of Monaco and culminated in his establishment of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco (1899) and the Oceanographic Institute in Paris (1906). After oceanographic campaigns in the Atlantic Ocean, his love for the the polar landscapes made him to extend his research to the polar regions and Svalbard in particular. He went there for the first time in July 1898 where he carried out numerous dredging and exploring the interior parts of the archipelago. Certainly there is not a glacier in the wonderful Principality of Monaco-Montecarlo, but a giant of ice carries the name of Monacobreen, aka “Glacier de Monaco” in Spitzbergen! It is located in the northwest of the Svalbard archipelago, in the Liefdefjord and it was named in honor of HSH Prince Albert I of Monaco, following his decision to make a new research session in Spitsbergen for hydrographic works. He will bring back from these two expeditions a large quantity of collections which are exhibited at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.
Another example of how the Principality of Monaco’s name continues to shine worldwide is related to the “Camp Monaco Prize ” originated by the 1913 hunting trip taken by Prince Albert I of Monaco and William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody near Yellowstone National Park in USA. It is administered by the Draper Museum and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and this will be the third time the award is made.
The program originated in 2013, observing the 100th anniversary of the Cody-prince excursion. The object of the program is to promote and help conserve the natural biodiversity in the region and, according to the museum announcement, “should reach for global implications.” Dr. Charles Preston, head of the Draper, is acting as jury chair for the awarding of the prize. “We are interested in proposals with a trans-boundary approach,” he said, “recognizing that effective biodiversity conservation crosses geopolitical/jurisdictional, academic disciplinary, and economic and social boundaries.” The nominations for the $100,000 “Camp Monaco Prize” for 2019 are now open. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Draper Natural History Museum will accept proposals to expand knowledge and understanding of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s biological diversity until April 15. The winner will be announced June 1.
Moreover, the intellectual influence of the Principality, even outside of Monaco is greatly extended by the Prince Albert II Foundation. Rising sea levels, deoxygenised marine and coastal waters, ocean acidification, etc., are some of the many current threats to ecosystems. These dangers, however, also encourage the benefits of raised awareness. More than ever, the main aim of the Monaco Ocean Week next April will be to share experience, debate and call to action.
As for the Monaco first lady, she proudly leads the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation whose main objective is to save lives by putting an end to drowning, which is a quite neglected and a major public health problem worldwide. Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death, accounting for 9% of all injury-related deaths. Children, particularly in low and middle-income countries, are at the highest risk and Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene, as a former Olympic swimmer, is passionate about using her position as a platform to promote water safety.
Last but not least, let me introduce a less serious subject, and recall a moment of joy, when Princess Charlene of Monaco received the beautiful Ocean Tiara from her husband, Prince Albert II of Monaco, on the occasion of their 2011 marriage. This pledge of love exalts the grace and elegance of the Princess, who chose its name. It was made to represent ocean waves and can be converted into a necklace. The Ocean set was created in 2011 by Van Cleef & Arpels, “Official Supplier to the Principality”. Such a privilege demands the highest standards: that of being at the pinnacle of the art of jewellery creation. The tiara boasts more than 850 diamonds and 359 sapphires in three shades, totaling over 1,200 stones and 70 carats.