[caption id="attachment_29293" align="alignnone" width="640"] Prince Albert and Nancy Heslin at Rocagel.[/caption]
On March 14, HSH Prince Albert celebrates his 60th birthday. If you're hoping to know all the important details about what flavour of cake HSH will be eating and what the twins are wearing for the birthday occasion ... then go to People Magazine. That's not my style.
I’m sure the Prince himself, who this week told Le Figaro that he “feels somewhere between the age of 15 and 45”, will take a moment on his big day to reflect over his achievements to date. The list is impressive, as the Olympian, and the Foundation that bears his name, continue to promote environmental protection and sustainable development, both at home and on a global scale. From the National Pact for Energy Transition to solar roads in Fontvieille, and from Yersin, the ecological research ship flying the Monegasque flag currently on a 3-year worldwide mission, to Prince Albert’s North Pole expedition in 2006 to draw attention to climate change.
As recently as last Friday, I listened at the Awards Ceremony of CleanEquity Monaco as Prince Albert announced the creation of the world’s first Global Award for Sustainability with the Nobel Sustainability Trust, and a Global Green Investment Bank. Wow.
Yet as the Prince celebrates this milestone on Wednesday, rather than provide a resumé-style retrospective, I would like to pay tribute to the Prince of the People.
As a journalist in Monaco, I cross paths with HSH in a variety of contexts: an art vernissage, the London to Monaco Charity Cycle arrival at the palace, a celebration for the Solar Impulse 2 Team, the opening of the Energy Security Forum or the Monaco US Celebrity Golf Cup Gala Dinner. I have been a guest at the Prince’s home, Rocagel, when he kindly agreed to an exclusive interview along with Mungo Park, his co-founder of CleanEquity Monaco.
[caption id="attachment_29292" align="alignnone" width="640"] Bertrand Piccard, Prince Albert and André Borschberg congratulating Solar Impulse 2 team. Photo: ML[/caption]
All of these encounters allow me to paint a bigger picture of HSH across a day, or week, and it’s more than just the words that fill column inches. It's a story about a Prince who is as loyal to the people as they are to him.
Let me share some snapshots from over the years. Before arriving at the Fairmont last Friday to make his closing speech at CleanEquity Monaco, the Prince had been at Grimaldi Forum, where he met with 18-year-old Felix Finkbeiner who was launching his Trillion Tree Campaign with the Prince’s full support.
On the morning of November 8, 2017, after hosting HRH Prince Andrew Duke of York at a Palace Gala reception the night before, Prince Albert was at the Yacht Club for the inaugural Princes’ Cup, a rowing competition for youth organised by Outward Bound Monaco. Then he was off to the Hermitage for the 90th anniversary luncheon of the Monte-Carlo Club. By 5 pm, he arrived at MonacoTech’s new premises to inaugurate the joint initiative between the government and Monaco Telecom.
The Prince is not just showing up, he’s committed; he spoke to each of the kids participating in the rowing regatta. He took the time to ask questions to each of the 15 startup companies at MonacoTech, even though that delayed the speeches.
I constantly see how Prince Albert has a way of validating each of the people he has contact with in his role as a sovereign. While Prince Andrew is painfully awkward socially, unsure of how to hand a youth a baseball cap, Prince Albert is old hand at putting people at ease with a smile and casual conversation.
[caption id="attachment_29291" align="alignnone" width="640"] Prince Andrew and Prince Albert with 2017 Princes Cup winners ,Facebook Prince's Palace of Monaco[/caption]
On June 9 last year, immediately after landing from New York, where he had addressed the UN at a three-day Ocean Conference, Prince Albert arrived for the closing of Monacology’s EcoVillage, at Quai Antoine 1er. He spoke to each local business and student at every booth, asking questions, and even watched a puppet show.
On December 14, 2016, fresh from Quebec City, Canada, where HSH participated in an Arctic Circle event on sustainable development, at 11:15 am, he was paying a visit to the tribute exhibition to Monaco’s former Minister of State, Michel Roger, at La Cremaillere restaurant. The Prince genially shook everyone’s hand as he entered and spoke to each artist.
Later that afternoon, HSH and Princess Charlene welcomed 600 Monegasque children for the traditional Christmas at the Palace.
At 6:45 pm, Prince Albert pulled up to the Hotel de Paris for the “Vente aux enchères de sapins de Noël”, the annual Action Innocence fundraiser that auctions Christmas trees for charity. Later that evening, Prince Albert attended an awards ceremony at 8:30 pm at the Automobile Club of Monaco, where he presented Nico Rosberg with an original work of the British artist Michael Turner.
[caption id="attachment_29288" align="alignnone" width="640"] 2016 World Rowing World Championships. Photo: Facebook Palais Princier de Monaco.[/caption]
Throw into the mix the Prince's sense of fun, community and sportsmanship: his participation in the Riviera Water Bike Challenge, the 140 km St Tropez to Monaco Cycle and the 2016 World Rowing Championships when he joined the Yole 8+, to name a few events.
For me, the success of a person’s life is measured by how he or she treats others. In February 2016, Prince Albert graciously paid a visit to some 40 parishioners of St Paul’s Monte Carlo, in support of the church’s elevator appeal, for which the Prince is patron. After spending a fair amount of time chatting with various people, it was time for the Prince to leave. On his way out, I watched as he made a point to stop and shake hands with the young caterers.
Happy 60th Birthday to the Prince of the People.
[caption id="attachment_28926" align="alignnone" width="429"] Photo: MIAS[/caption]
The Monaco-Ireland Arts Society will be performing two modern plays on Friday, March 16, Stones in his Pockets by Marie Jones, and Ritual for Dolls by George MacEwan Green.
With just two actors playing over a dozen parts, Stones in his Pockets is a comedic yet tragic take on the effects of the Hollywood dream in a small Irish town. Written by Jones, the play is a sad, hilarious and irresistible two-man show about the filming of a Hollywood epic in rural Ireland. A pair of extras, Charlie and Jake, tell the story by taking on all the roles themselves, an ingenious theatrical trick that has a political kick.
Entr’acte, Ritual for Dolls tells the story of four toys that lie forgotten in an attic, a tale that bursts with violence through the strait-lacing of Victorian society, as a golliwog, a toy soldier, a doll and a monkey with a drum each night re-enact the intense events in the lives of the brother and sister who had owned them.
The 8:30 pm event, which takes place at Auditorium Collège Charles III (parking opposite), is presented by the Monaco-Ireland Arts Society, now in its 24th year. “We are a small group of actors committed to presenting our local audiences with the works of Irish authors and playwrights.
‘We spend many months rehearsing our dramatised costumed play-readings and have produced evenings on Shaw, Wilde, Friel, Synge, and many other well-known authors.”
The March 16 evening, like all of the Monaco-Ireland Arts Society events, are free of charge. “We rely on the memberships to continue our work.”
Membership to the Monaco-Ireland Arts Society is only €15/year. Download an application form here.
[caption id="attachment_29366" align="alignleft" width="337"] Photo: Mairie de Monaco[/caption]
Hercule Fitness Club, the new municipal sports club, will soon open in the Rainier III Nautical Stadium. Monaco Town Hall has unveiled the logo, representing a torso.
Work on the new space – managed by the Municipal Sports Service and Associations – began in September 2017 and will be completed in a few days. The fitness club will soon welcome its first members and will offer quality equipment and qualified professional coaching with programmes tailored to athletes of all levels.
The club will be open seven days a week, from 7 am to 10 pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8 am to 8 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Single entry costs €25 and a card for 10 sessions is €200. Monthly membership is available from €170.
[caption id="attachment_29364" align="alignnone" width="640"] Photo: Mairie de Monaco[/caption]
A one-way system will operate on part of avenue Saint Roman from October 2016 until December 2017, in order to allow for the building of a delivery area for the major Villa del Sol project, which is about to start. The construction fence will be moved to the middle of the road to avoid materials falling onto the road below and the traffic management scheme will help cars move more freely past the site, the Government has said in a press release.
[caption id="attachment_8709" align="alignleft" width="350"] Photos: Facebook TEDxMonteCarlo[/caption]
On Saturday, November 26, the Grimaldi Forum accommodated a full house for TEDxMonteCarlo. With the theme “(r)evolution”, the all day conference focused on innovation in the areas of engineering, technology, the arts and design.
The goal of TEDxMonteCarlo was to bring together visionaries and experts in a wide variety of fields to share their ideas for the future, unite the community and inspire new thinking.
Although the Principality of Monaco is the world’s second smallest country, it boasts some of the leading business leaders, scientists, athletes and environmental experts from across the planet. With such a diverse community, Monte Carlo serves as a fitting location to host a TEDx to attract a spectrum of high quality speakers and participants.
Notable speakers, with a discourse of less than 18 minutes each, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag, Creative Director Jenke Ahmed TAILLY, and Vitality Chief Health Officer, Derek Yach, among many other impressive names.
HSH Princess Charlene graciously wrote the program foreword stating “this event demonstrates the thirst for knowledge and understanding in the Principality.”
The Monaco community was certainly engaged at the sold out event, with not a single one of the 400 seats left empty – and with a waiting list of more than a hundred would-be attendees
The TEDXMonteCarlo 13-strong team, lead by Licensee and Curator Nazanine Matin, and the advisory board made up of seven members, couldn’t have hoped for a more successful event and have created a buzz for a repeat performance next year.