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Who is Prince Albert II of Monaco?

His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco was born in the Prince’s Palace of Monaco on 14 March 1958. He is the son of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco and American actress Grace Kelly. Prince Albert was baptised on 20 April 1958 by Monsignor Jean Delay, Archbishop of Marseille in the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception of Monaco. His godparents were the Spanish Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain and Prince Louis of Polignac.

Prince Albert has ancestry from Britain, Ireland, Mexico, Belgium, Monaco and the United States of America. He speaks French, English, Italian and German.

Prince Albert with his mother in 1972. Photo: Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Focounsellorie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANeFo), 1945-1989, Nummer toegang Bestanddeelnummer 925-8815/CC BY-SA 3.0 nl/Wikimedia Commons

His Serene Highness was a camper and later a counsellor for six summers at Camp Tecumseh on Lake Winnipesaukee, Moultonborough, New Hampshire, in the 1970s. Before that, Prince Albert graduated with distinction from the Lycee Albert Premier.

In 1977, Prince Albert enrolled at Amherst College as Albert Grimaldi where he studied political science, economics, English literature and music. He also joined the Chi Psi fraternity. He graduated in 1981 with a Bachelors of Arts degree in political science. In 1979, he participated in an exchange programme with the University of Bristol at the Albert Marshall School of Economics and spent his summer touring Europe and the Middle East with the Amherst Glee Club.

Prince Albert loves sports. He has participated in several competitions including cross country, swimming, sailing, skiing and fencing. His Serene Highness competed in bobsleigh at five consecutive Winter Olympics for Monaco. Additionally, he is a judo black belt. Prince Albert has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1985. He is the patron of Monaco’s football team, AS Monaco, as well. In 2011, Albert II received an honorary doctorate from the United States Sports Academy.

On 31 March 2005, the Prince’s Palace of Monaco announced that Prince Albert, as heir, would take over the duties of his ailing father who was admitted to hospital. Prince Albert succeeded his father as Albert II when Rainier died on 6 April 2005. The first part of Prince Albert II’s enthronement as ruler of the principality was on 12 July 2005 at the end of the three month mourning period for his late father. His reign began with a mass at Saint Nicholas Cathedral presided over by the Archbishop of Monaco, the Most Reverend Bernard Barsi. Albert II hosted a garden party for 7000 guests born in the principality, as well. As a symbol of investiture, the Prince was presented with two keys of the city, and afterwards, he made a speech. This memorable event ended with a fireworks display on the waterfront. A second investiture took place on 19 November 2005 when Prince Albert was enthroned at Saint Nicholas Cathedral. The evening ended with opera performance in Monte Carlo.

Prince Albert continues the policy of his predecessors of strengthening environmental awareness. Just like his great-great-grandfather Albert I, Prince Albert travelled to Spitsbergen. In July 2006, Prince Albert created the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation which supports sustainable and ethical projects around the world. The foundation focuses on the following challenges: climate change and renewable energy development; combating the loss of biodiversity; and water management. For his continued support and environment works, Prince Albert was awarded the Roger Revellers Prize on 23 October 2009 by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. Additionally, in October 2017, Prince Albert received the Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club.

Prince Albert II of Monaco delivers remarks at the “Our Ocean” Conference lunch discussion at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on June 16, 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain] via Flickr

Prince Albert is the Vice Chairman of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA. It supports emerging artists in theatre, dance and film in memory of his late mother. He is also a global adviser to Orphans International.

In August 2015, Prince Albert apologised for Monaco’s role in facilitating the deportation of a total of 90 Jews and resistance fighters of whom only nine survived in World War Two. “We committed the irreparable in handing over to the neighbouring authorities women, men and a child who had taken refuge with us to escape the persecutions they had suffered in France,” Albert said at a ceremony in which a monument to the victims was unveiled at the cemetery.

Before marriage, Prince Albert received significant press attention for dating well-known fashion models and actresses. In 1992, an American woman, Tamara Rotolo, filed a paternity suit against the Prince claiming he was the father to her daughter Jazmin Grace Grimaldi. On 31 May 2006, a DNA test confirmed the child’s parentage after the court had dismissed the case. As a result, Prince Albert admitted in a statement through his lawyer that he was Jazmin’s father. Again in May 2005, Nicole Coste, a former Air France flight attendant and Togo national, claimed that her son Alexandre Coste was Prince Albert’s son. This was proven by a test done by Swiss technicians working on orders from the Monégasque government. As with Jazmin, the Prince confirmed through his lawyer that Alexandre was his son.

Albert II married Charlene Wittstock, a former South African swimmer, in 2011 after their engagement was announced on 23 June 2010. The couple had both a civil and religious ceremony. The civil service was on 1 July 2011, and a religious one followed on 2 July 2011. The Prince’s Palace, on 30 May 2014, announced that Princess Charlene was expecting. Their twins, Gabriella Thérèse Marie, Countess of Carladès and Jacques Honoré Rainier, Hereditary Prince of Monaco were born on 10 December 2014.

Prince Albert II of Monaco (R) holding Princess Gabriella, and Princess Charlene of Monaco (L) holding Prince Jacques, appear on the balcony of the Monaco Palace during the celebrations marking Monaco’s National Day, on 19 November 2016 in Monaco. (AFP / VALERY HACHE /AFP/Getty Images)

In 2016, His Serene Highness purchased his mother’s childhood home in the East Falls district of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He stated the house could be used as a museum space or as offices for the Princess Grace Foundation.

In honour of Albert’s 60th birthday on 14 March 2018, a book is being released. The new book, written in French, is titled Albert II of Monaco, The Man and The Prince by Peter Mikelbank and Isabelle Rivere.

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