Prince Albert of Monaco: a look back at the first year of his reign

The prince celebrates his 64th birthday this March 14, 2022. Back on his first steps as sovereign prince of the Rock.

On March 31, 2005, a terrible news spreads in the principality of Monaco. Prince Rainier III is seriously ill and, this time, the doctors are not very optimistic. The brokers whispered the latest information about the Prince’s worsening health and shook their heads in desolation. Undoubtedly, the end is approaching.

Long time smoker, his last years of life have been particularly trying. The husband of the actress Grace Kelly had a series of bronchopulmonary infections and in March 2005, he was hospitalized several times. Fortunately, for some time now, he has been preparing his son Albert to succeed him on the throne of the principality. When his condition became critical, the young man became regent at the request of the Crown Council.

In the midst of the chaos, the hereditary prince represents a ray of hope for the distraught Monegasque people, as well as the promise of a smooth transition between father and son. On April 6, 2005, Prince Rainier III died at dawn and after a few days as interim head of state, Albert officially became the fourteenth sovereign prince of the Principality of Monaco.

Getty Images Young Prince Albert surrounded by Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III.

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A national mourning was declared on the Rock in homage to the fifty-five years of reign of the prince nicknamed “the builder”. At the end of this one, the accession to the throne of the prince is celebrated in great pomp on July 12, 2005 in front of more than 7000 guests. This was only the first ceremony. In November of the same year, the second part of his enthronement took place in the cathedral of Monaco and the festivities lasted several days.

Money and ambition, the young years of a prince

From the very first months of his reign, Albert focused on the causes that were dear to him. He began with a large number of official visits to the Rock’s neighboring countries to establish his arrival on the international scene. In July, the Sovereign Prince, like his ancestor Prince Albert I before him, went to Norway to visit glaciers. A symbolic trip that places ecology at the heart of the battles he intends to wage during his reign.

Getty Images Prince Albert at his enthronement.

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Since 1984, Albert has been his father’s right-hand man and has already mastered the affairs of state. The only shadow in the picture is his perpetual celibacy that intrigues the international press. While Prince Rainier III is in decline and his health is deteriorating with each passing day, a concern about the absence of a small hereditary prince is taking hold of the Rock … For cause? A Franco-Monegasque treaty dated 1918 stipulating that in the absence of a hereditary prince, the principality of Monaco would become a protectorate of France.

Getty Images Prince Albert in the arms of his mother, Grace Kelly.

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Albert has not only inherited a kingdom. The prince is also the head of a colossal fortune, now estimated at around one billion euros. A personal wealth much larger than that of Queen Elizabeth II of England. Here again, the sovereign shows a flair for finance and investment.

Prince Albert was still unmarried when he acceded to the Monegasque throne, so his sisters, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie of Monaco, immediately became essential figures at his side. Not an official outing or a diplomatic trip takes place without one or the other playing the role of First Lady of the Rock. A routine that is established in the long term and which will have its usefulness because, while his wife, Princess Charlene, is currently in a medical clinic outside Monaco, Caroline and Stephanie have returned to the front of the stage. A relief for Prince Albert II and his two children, the twins Jacques and Gabriella.

Photo credits: Getty Images

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