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Monaco

The Monaco tradition which brought Princess Charlene to tears


By brunifia - Flickr, CC BY 2.0

All eyes are on Monaco as two possible moments for Princess Charlene to re-enter public life approach. Her 44th birthday, on January 25th 2022, is quickly followed by the feast day of St. Devote, Monaco’s patron saint. Celebrations for Devote are popular across the principality and Charlene has been an enthusiastic participant in past years, showing a connection to the country’s patron. And it was during a visit to a chapel dedicated to Devote that one of the most talked about moments of her royal life took place. For it was here that Charlene wept on her wedding day.

The princess, like many of Monaco’s royal brides, made the short journey to the chapel to offer her wedding bouquet. She arrived, with her new husband, shortly after their religious wedding ceremony at the Prince’s Palace on July 2nd 2011 and walked up the steps between two floral arrangements representing the flags of Monaco and South Africa, her home country. Once inside, a poignant song was performed. Charlene was still holding her bouquet of gardenias, lily of the valley and orchids, when she began to cry and her face was partially obscured by the flowers as she tried to wipe away her tears.

Having offered her bouquet to St. Devote, Princess Charlene walked out to cheering crowds and again burst into tears. She later said that the emotion of the day had overwhelmed her and dismissed the claims that had followed her since the weeks before her wedding that she had changed her mind about getting married and had tried to flee Monaco.

Since her wedding, Charlene has shown a particular devotion to Monaco’s patron saint. Devote was a Christian who was martyred in the 3rd century. Orders were given for her body to be burned to stop it becoming an object of veneration but her supporters instead put it on a boat which sailed through a storm to Les Gaumates, now in Monaco. A chapel was built to her and was taken over by Honore I of Monaco in the 16th century. Her protection is said to have saved Monaco on several occasions. Now, her feast is marked with a boat burning ceremony held the evening before and Charlene has taken part on many occasions.

Whether we see Monaco’s Princess again this month remains to be seen. She has been receiving treatment outside the Principality since returning from an extended stay in South Africa which lasted months after she became unable to fly following a serious ear infection. Her exact condition isn’t known.

So all eyes will remain on Monaco as it pays tribute to its patron saint to see if her devotion to Devote will return Charlene to public life.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.