A most beautiful birthday present on Prince Albert’s 60th! Can you guess what it is? A “This is Your Life” book. It is the result of a year-long effort by two journalists, well-qualified for the task at hand. Their effort to contact the Prince over a year ago was surprisingly rewarded with a warm response and genuine cooperation. Surprising because Prince Albert had to find the time to be interviewed over many hours. One of the revelations in the book is just how exhausting a day in the life of Prince Albert can be. It is a minor miracle there was a 25th hour in the day to share his life with the journalists! Princess Stephanie reveals how much she yearns sometimes for the good old days – yes, the good old days before her brother Prince Albert became sovereign, when he could drop everything and come over for a dinner and a chat and vice versa.
The style of the book is special – raw unedited accounts by Prince Albert and his closest. Unconventional, perhaps a little daring, but the authors knew this was the only way to convey with absolute honesty their subject. And a little unusual for Prince Albert to be both sovereign and subject – forgive the pun, because the style works on so many levels. The technique works because Prince Albert’s sensitivity, honesty and openness do indeed shine through. Willingness to share intimate thoughts on subjects that an edited “whitewashed biography” would never reveal – this “no constraints, no taboo” openness is refreshing.
Childhood memories – how revealing. You will discover that many of Prince Albert’s happiest times were spent with his nanny Maureen Wood, a governess fondly called Nana. We forget how much his parents, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace were traveling. Prince Albert did not have regular dinners with them until he was fourteen. That completely changes our picture of his childhood. He reveals how much he and his sisters yearned for the return of their nanny, when she went on holiday. And funny stories about Prince Albert at three years old dressing up as a carabinier (Royal Guard) and telling Princess Grace to refrain from calling him away from his “duty” – “carabiners do not have mothers”. Well, actually they do, but the young Prince was right – not with them on duty!
Painful and poignant moments with Prince Rainier after the tragic accidental death of Princess Grace – how Prince Albert with his sisters, rallied around Prince Rainier to help him deal with his solace.
Of course, we all want to know if Prince Albert helped Princess Charlene change nappies, and all about his joy of being a father; “illuminated from the inside” is the beautiful expression” describing him. And you will discover interesting tidbits on how Princess Caroline takes a comic revenge on Prince Albert who was often spoiling her children with little treats. She now does it to him, feeding his kids sweets at night. How we can all relate to that.
Many people in powerful positions suffer from seeing the world through “filters” – the people around them, trying often to protect them from bad news or emphasizing a single point of view. So, another revelation in the book is by Princess Stephanie who amusingly calls herself a sort of “city spy”. She says she can walk around Monaco sometimes informally without people reacting to her as a Princess – and this helps her see things from another perspective. And she is able to help Prince Albert by bringing these unfiltered images back to him.
Isabelle Revere is an accomplished journalist and has also completed a biography on the current Queen Elizabeth of England. The authors know their stuff and it comes through. The way they approached this; their candid conversations with Prince Albert and most of all Prince Albert’s candid conversations with them and willingness to open up without reserve make this book special.
Worth reading, enjoying and understanding close-up Prince Albert, Sovereign of Monaco – a Sovereign with a profound sense of duty – and as a man, kind and generous with a passion for the truth, even to the point of admitting that at times he is not sure of himself. Join HelloMonaco and wish Prince Albert a belated Happy Birthday when you finish it. You will want to.
The Book: Albert II de Monaco, The Man and The Prince
Isabelle Revere – Pointe de View
Peter Mikelblank – People Magazine