30 May 2014

The Heirs of Monaco

The Princely palace in Monaco has announced that Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene is expecting her first child. While much of the coverage is remarking upon the fact that she has been married to the sovereign, Prince Albert II, for nearly three years--a relatively long time to wait for an heir, I would contend that the wait has actually been much longer for those who follow the Grimaldi family. After all, Albert did not marry until he was 53 years old.

For many of his bachelor years, he fended off rumors of homosexuality as well as heterosexuality promiscuity, at least two instances of which resulted in the birth of illegitimate children. At first, he did not acknowledge either child, but later publicly accepted his fatherhood and now has relationships with 22-year-old American-born Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and 10-year-old Alexandre Coste, whose mother hails from Togo.

Monaco has almost always had a fairly scandalous sovereign family. (Read my history of Princesses of Monaco.)

Of less prurient interest, the actual independence of Monaco was at stake through most Albert's single days. Under the Monagesque constitution only the direct and legitimate heirs of the reigning prince could succeed. Furthermore, under international treaty, if Albert, had no legitimate children, Monaco would become part of France. By 2002, the situation had become serious enough they changed the constitution and had it ratified by France so that the reigning Prince's siblings and their legitimate descendants could accede, using male preference primogeniture. So, when Albert became the Prince of Monaco upon his father's death in 2005, his oldest sister Princess Caroline became his heiress.

The constitutional change means that there are now many people in the line of succession, but most of them have had an unusual path not replicated in any other European monarchy. As it currently stands the family includes:

Alexandre Coste - Second child of Prince Albert, he is currently excluded because he is illegitimate but he could become heir to the throne if his parents marry before he becomes an adult. Albert has stated publicly that this will not happen.

Jazmin Grace Grimaldi - Oldest child of Prince Albert, she is excluded because of her illegitimacy. Since she is now an adult, she cannot be legitimated if her parents marry each other.

1. HRH The Princess of Hanover - Prince Albert's oldest sister, Princess Caroline suffered one broken marriage with an older playboy, was widowed after a tragic speedboat accident that killed her second husband, and is now separated from her third husband, who is known as a philanderer.

2. Andrea Casiraghi - Oldest child of Princess Caroline and her late husband, he was conceived before his parents marriage, which took place nine years before the Catholic Church granted his mother an annulment from her first marriage.

3. Sasha Casiraghi - Just over a year old, Sasha did not join the line of succession until his parents married each other when he was 10 months old.

4. Pierre Casiraghi - Second son of Princess Caroline and Stefano Casiraghi.

5. Charlotte Casiraghi - Oldest daughter of Princess Caroline.

Raphael Elmaleh - Baby Raphael is the son of Charlotte Casiraghi and comedian Gad Elmaleh. He is excluded because his parents are not married, but would become #6 in line if they did get married.

6. HRH Princess Alexandra of Hanover - Youngest child of Princess Caroline, 14-year-old Alexandra was conceived before her mother married Prince Ernst Augustus, who also has two adult sons from a previous marriage.

7. HSH Princess Stephanie - Younger sister of Prince Albert, Stephanie was only 17 and was seriously injured in the car accident that killed their beloved mother, Princess Grace, in 1982. She endured tabloid accusations that she was driving the car, and developed a reputation as a wild child. She not only dated a variety of actors and others, but launched her own non-princessy careers as a pop singer, model, and fashion designer. None of these activities compare, however, to taking her children and running away with the circus to be with a married elephant trainer before marrying and divorcing an acrobat.

8. Louis Ducruet - Only son of Princess Stephanie by her bodyguard, Daniel Ducruet, Louis' birth revealed their unconventional relationship. The romance was all the more shocking because Daniel's girlfriend was pregnant with his child when he started seeing the princess. Three years later, Louis was legitimated upon his parents' marriage, for which Stephanie had worked hard to win approval from her father.

9. Pauline Ducruet - Daughter of Princess Stephanie and Daniel Ducruet, she was also legitimated when the couple married a year after her birth. However, the marriage did not last, allegedly because of his infidelity, and the couple divorced after only a year and a half.

Camille Gottlieb - Youngest daughter of Princess Stephanie, she is not included in the line because her parents have never married. In fact, her father has never even been publicly acknowledged although it is generally believed that her father is a former member of the Palace Guards.

A Monagesque heir has not been born since the heyday of Princess Grace, when Prince Albert himself arrived in 1958. The new baby is expected before the end of 2014, but we may be in for a bit of drama with this birth, too, because reports are alleging that Princess Charlene's father has revealed to friends that she is expecting twins. These friends have thereafter shared the news on Twitter. If it is true, it will not be the marital status of the parents that determines who the next heir is, but the position of one child or another in the birth canal. Rarely has the matter of arriving a few minutes after your twin make such a difference in a baby's life.

Whether a single child or multiples, I hope that Princess Charlene has a safe and happy pregnancy. Best wishes to her, The Prince and their growing family.