As Monaco prepares to celebrate its National Day on 19 November, let’s take a look at why the National Day takes place on that date.
Monaco’s National Day is first and foremost the occasion for the Monégasque people to pay tribute to its princes, hence why the day is also called The Sovereign Prince’s Day. This is why the National Day usually changes for each Sovereign Prince as they usually choose their name days. Despite the Grimaldi dynasty ruling the Principality of Monaco since 1297, it is Prince Charles III who decided – during the second year of his reign – to create the Sovereign Prince’s Day. It took place on 4 November from 1857 to 1890 as the day celebrates Saint Charles. When he was succeeded by Prince Albert I, the day moved to 15 November, as the day celebrates Saint Albert. Issues arose when Prince Louis II ascended the throne as his name day was on 25 August which was not ideal as August was the month of holidays for the Monégasque people. The National Day is thus moved to 17 January, the name day of his granddaughter, Princess Antoinette.
During Prince Rainier’s reign, the date changed several times. Prince Rainier III’s official ascension took place on 19 November 1949, and the Sovereign Prince Day was planned on 11 April 1950. However, as 11 April 1952 was Good Friday, the Sovereign Prince Day was moved to 19 November for the rest of Prince Rainier’s reign. When he was succeeded by his son Prince Albert II, the current Sovereign Prince, it was expected the National Day would move back to 15 November. However, Prince Albert II decided to end the tradition and keep celebrating the National Day on 19 November to offer stability and pay homage to his beloved father. The date also holds another meaning as Prince Albert II’s official ascension to the Monégasque throne took place on 19 November 2005.
During National Day, a Te Deum takes place at Monaco’s Cathedral before an official ceremony attended by the Princely Family in the Cour d’Honneur of the Palace where decorations are awarded. Prince Albert then reviews the troops.