Nowadays, when war threatens the borders of many European countries, it is impossible to underestimate the happiness of a peaceful life in Monaco. And it’s more than just the world’s visitors to the Principality who appreciate the peace and safety. Most of those who are lucky enough to live in Monaco put the feeling of security in first place in the list of advantages of the Principality.
How did the authorities of the country manage to transform their country to the safest place in the world? Residents and guests of the Principality can live in complete tranquility thanks to the efficient work of the Department of Public Security created exactly 120 years ago.
The Principality’s Police under Prince Charles III
To run a modern state where the safety of its citizens are the top priority, it is to the Police we always look to feel free and be civil to one another, confident of peace. The Principality emerged as a modern state during the reign of Charles III starting 1856 and continuing with his successor Albert I in 1889. Being the founder of the famous casino in Monte-Carlo, Prince Charles III would oversee an explosion of Royal visitors, European aristocrats and VIPs, laden with jewellery and valuables seeking amusement and leisure in the fine climate of the Principality. And they were reassured by the presence of the Principality’s police who had from 1858 begun to structure themselves, in a significant way. Appointed at their head was a police commissioner, Yves-Marie Lucas. And in 1877, a Director of the police was appointed, Antoine Angeli.
All served then as now under their oath to the Sovereign:
“I swear loyalty to the Prince and obedience to the laws of the Principality. I also swear to fulfill my functions well and loyally and to observe in everything the duties which they impose on me.”
Imagine being in the Principality, if there were no police in the February earthquake of 1887 when Hotel lobbies and corridors were eventually strewn with diamonds, sapphires and emeralds as people ran into the streets packing into Casino Square.
With each decade came ever more need for security, ever more sophisticated criminals, and a glimpse of Monaco’s future reputation as the safest place on earth.
Prince Albert I’s Historic Ordinance
Visionary as always Prince Albert I, on ascension to the throne in 1889, saw the need to position the Police within a strengthened overall organisation responsible for Public Security. 100 years after Albert’s death as we celebrate him in this special centenary year in his memory, we also celebrate our safety which rests on the shoulders of the Department of Public Security (Sûreté Publique) created by him 120 years ago.
By Sovereign Ordinance No. 971 of June 23, 1902, published in the Journal de Monaco in 1902, Prince Albert I abolished “the Police Department” and established “a Department of Public Security” within the Government.
This new State service, was commanded by a director exercising his functions under the immediate authority of the Governor General. He had under his direct orders “a central commissioner of police, the commissioner, chief of security, the ordinary commissioners and the constables”.
Since June 1902, with the appointment of Napoléon Delalonde as Director of Public Security 22 directors have so far succeeded each other. The current Director is Mr. Richard Marangoni. And Mr. Laurent Braulio is Chief of the City Police.
In 120 years, this Directorate has seen its workforce gradually increase, currently with well over 500 plainclothes police officers, officers in uniform and administrative and technical employees.
At the same time, the Department of Public Security has seen its missions and prerogatives increase very significantly. Over the past decades, major restructuring has been carried out in depth, so that the measures are fully adapted to the evolution of society, but also to the multiple forms that delinquency takes, including digital fraud.
It takes crack detectives and painstaking investigative work to solve the particular cases. Court cases involve instances of Seduction, Blackmail and Attempted Murder and sometimes read like a film script.
Thanks to the Sûreté, its Police and its detectives Monaco is uniquely safe for its residents and visitors but NOT for criminals who soon find themselves apprehended and justice served.
The Grimaldi Dynasty and the Principality itself have made it through hundreds of years of the turbulence surrounding them. States and the robust pillars that go to the core of their essence have mottos that carry them forward across centuries. Their survival owes as much to loyalty and ideas as to raw power.
Starting at the apex is the motto “Deo Juvante” (With God’s Help) which is the motto of Monaco and its Princes. Then there are the Prince’s Guards who go back as far as the 14th century in the records. Even in their modern form (The Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince) we are looking at over 200 years since 1817 with their Motto: “Honour – Loyalty – Devotion To Duty” to guide them.
And then when we look at Public Security and the safety of the Prince and all his subjects, residents and visitors … the everyday life of the Principality, everywhere, the Department of Public Security has its own identity and motto to also guide it through future centuries:
In Latin: Fides – Diligentia – Virtus,
In French: Loyaute, Vigilance, Courage,
and in English: Loyalty, Vigilance, Courage.
From Saint George to Modernity’s Charlotte Casiraghi
Historically celebrated on April 23rd, Saint George joins the important Saints linked to the Principality’s core institutions such as Saint Devote, Patron Saint for the Principality, and San Sebastien, Patron Saint of the Prince’s Carabinieri. Saint George has a most colourful story behind his association with public safety… and the safety of princesses too which makes him an ideal protector for Monaco.
George would have been born in Cappadocia, around 280. It is said that, very young, he joined the Roman army and that his courage earned him the appointment of tribune. One day, according to Legend, George arrived in a town in Libya, called Silene. Near the city, dwelt a dreadful dragon who approached the walls and poisoned with his breath, all those who were within his reach. To appease the fury of this monster, and prevent it from annihilating the entire city, the inhabitants offered it first the only sheep they had and finally had to draw lots for humans to be sacrificed to the dragon. No family was exempted from this choice.
Thankfully George arrives. Fate had designated as victim that day the only daughter of the King.
To save the princess from a horrible death, George fought the beast. Mounting his horse, making the sign of the cross he bravely attacked the dragon brandishing his spear high and mortally wounded the beast, finally killing it in the City in front of the King and the populace whom George converted to Christianity.
But Christians like Saint Devote and Saint George were in great danger from Roman Emperor Diocletian. George appeared before the tribunal held by Diocletian, in the presence of the Senate and the army who were intent on exterminating Christianity and restoring the worship of idols. George confessed his faith in Christ and refused to offer a sacrifice to the gods. He then suffered a terrible martyrdom and suffered many tortures which he miraculously survived. Furious, Diocletian had him beheaded on April 23rd, 303. This same year 303, Saint Dévote also suffered martyrdom and landed on the shore of Monaco on January 27th.
Since April 23rd, 1997, the year of celebration of the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi Dynasty, Public Security has been placed, by the will of Prince Rainier III, under the benevolence of its Godmother, Mrs. Charlotte Casiraghi, daughter of H.R.H. Princess Caroline of Hanover.
“I swear loyalty to the Prince”
In recognition of the achievements of the Department of Public Security over the past 120 years there were celebrations throughout this year. There is a celebratory stamp showing the Monegasque police helmet which is the most iconic symbol of each police officer in uniform. The Sovereign Prince’s monogram capped with a crown emphasises the Police Department’s commitment to the Prince.
Hello Monaco is very appreciative of the kind assistance of the Communication Department who provided the illustrations.