The Red Cross Ball: Its Past and Present
This year, the 73rd Red Cross Ball will take place on the Casino Square on July 18th. The square for the occasion will be transformed into a stage without fountains and palm trees, where New Yorker Alicia Keys pianist, singer, songwriter will perform.
The Red Cross Ball in Monaco is one of the largest charity galas in the world, bringing together the most famous and prominent people, many of them from the ruling houses of Europe. The Ball is held every year and is the culmination of the summer season in Monaco.
The first Red Cross Ball in Monaco was organised by the ruling Prince of Monaco, Louis II in 1948. Since then it has traditionally hosted charity concerts, auctions and dinner parties. Monaco has always lived in the spirit of pacifism and cooperation; its rulers throughout history strove for the peaceful solution of problems and were famous for their charity and assistance to neighbouring countries. That is why the Red Cross became so widespread on the Côte d’Azur. The mission of the young Monegasque organisation was, in fact, to continue the work of the great humanist Henry Dunant who created the Red Cross in 1863. By creating this charity, Dunant aspired to bring first aid to the wounded in battle or injured soldiers returning from the front. He himself was struck by his view of the battlefield after he had taken part in the Battle of Solferino. Henry Dunant was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 for his work and for his creation of the Red Cross.
The young Prince Rainier III became President of the first Red Cross Ball. He officially opened the ball, greeting the guests and presiding over the whole ceremony. This was new to the Principality — a head of state being actively involved in a charity event. Thus began the history of the Red Cross Ball in Monaco.
Maurice Chevalier was the Star of the first Red Cross Ball. And every year the programme grows more and more impressive. Famous and notable guests honour the evening with their presence and organisers seem to surpass themselves from year to year. For example, in 1952 it was opened by a Christian Dior catwalk show and in 1953 Zizi Jeanmaire, a French ballet dancer and singer, performed on its stage.
Ten years after its creation, the Red Cross Ball changed its President. It was now Princess Grace of Monaco who carried out her mission with the utmost zeal and dedication. During the years of her presidency of the organisational committee, the ball was attended by celebrities such as Ella Fitzgerald (1959), Sammy Davis Jr. (1961), Charles Trenet (1962), Sacha Distel (1963), Gilbert Bécaud (1968), Charles Aznavour (1970) and Shirley Bassey (1971).
1974 was important for the Red Cross Ball, as this year the venue was transferred to the newly built Monte-Carlo Sporting Club. Since then, every summer the princely family continues to host the largest charity event in its now famous Salle des Etoiles. This is where Josephine Baker, the famous cabaret dancer, triumphantly performed for the last time at the age of 68, just a few months before her death.
In the years following, the Sporting stage was honoured by such celebrities as Line Renaud (1975), Enrico Macias (1977), Gloria Gaynor (1979) and Frank Sinatra (1980). In 1982 the presidency of the Ball changed again due to tragic circumstances. Princess Grace died in a car accident and her son, Prince Albert II, took over and presides the Ball to this day.
As of today, the Red Cross Ball is still held in the Salle des Etoiles of the Monte-Carlo Sporting Club. Since 1989, artists are invited to create a work of art specially associated with the Red Cross.
In 2014, Mateo Mornar presented his sculpture and in 2015 Manuel Merida gave his installation «Manucroix Rouge» to the Red Cross of Monaco. In 2017 the piece of art offered by Pino Pinelli to the Monaco Red Cross has inspired the decoration of the Salle des Etoiles.
The ball is traditionally opened by a prestigious auction and the collected funds go to charity programmes. The guests then proceed with dinner followed by a charity concert by famous performers. At midnight, the Prince officially announces the Ball open and the guests are invited to the dance floor.
The Gala receives important donations due to its scope, programme and excellent menu prepared by the best French and Italian chefs. A dinner per person costs an average of 1,200 euros. All the collected funds go to the Red Cross of Monaco Foundation. Organisers claim to collect about 500,000 euros per year.
You need a personal invitation from the organisers, the ruling dynasty of Monaco, to be able to attend the Ball. The organisers are personally involved in compiling the guest list.
About 200 people organise this most beautiful summer evening in Monaco.