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“Rainier III by himself” Premieres to Lively Applause and No Little Emotion

It makes for such captivating watching and listening … the 52 minute documentary premiere, “Rainier III by himself”… history unravelling at the highest levels. We get intimately close… and to some of the most eventful and dramatic international episodes in Monegasque history.

700 years were on the line when De Gaulle essentially blockaded Monaco’s border using customs agents.

Prince Rainier supported the principle that the sovereignty of a micro-state shows most when it diverges from the fiscal regime of its neighbours.

De Gaulle for his part was not happy that many French had become residents in Monaco. And in a few years many French companies had taken an office in Monaco too, essentially lowering France’s tax take. Giscard d’Estaing, who would become French president a decade later, was also concerned that Radio Monte Carlo had become a commercial radio station with advertisements, which used to be forbidden in France.

Monaco was put with its back against the wall. The borders remained closed by France for a few weeks but eventually Prince Rainier took the initiative to go to the Elysée.

The crisis between France and Monaco came to an end in 1963. The compromise is essentially still in force. French residents of Monaco do not benefit from tax exemption anymore: they have to pay their income taxes to France. Similarly, corporations that earn more than 25% of their revenues outside Monaco are subject to direct corporate taxes.

The voice telling us about the events in the documentary is that of the Prince from recordings by a tape recorder which appears on the screen as does actress and film director Fanny Ardant.

Other events dear to Prince Rainier was the visit of François Mitterrand to the Prince’s marriage to Princess Grace and when Mitterrand was President the extension of Monegasque maritime boundaries to 22 km and to 87 km for the zone of sovereignty. The visit to Monaco of François Mitterrand, was indeed that of the first president of the French Republic to visit the Principality since De Gaulle.

And then too, having dealt with De Gaulle, Prince Rainier had to defend his vision of the Principality against Aristotle Onassis, the immensely rich Greek shipowner who had new money and old ideas about how to make Monaco prosperous. Onassis had taken a major stake in SBM and tried to force through his vision of Monaco catering to a small audience of the ultra wealthy. In contrast, Prince Rainier wanted to develop a modern and larger market of well-to-do, high income people attracted to favorable tax rates and beautiful Riviera weather. A power struggle between the two visions evolved until in the mid-1960s Rainier vanquished Onassis.

How remarkable to relive these historic defense strategies of the Grimaldi vision against the mighty powers that targeted Monaco. These were no myths and we hear about them with authenticity and truth from the Prince himself.

The room in the Grimaldi Forum was packed on the evening’s screening… an emotional tribute to Prince Rainier III on the centenary anniversary of his birth. Applause broke out in the room echoed also by vigorous applause from the Prince’s box. Visibly taken with emotion the box had in attendance Prince Albert II, Princess of Hanover and Princess Stephanie, accompanied by several members of the princely family.

The most greatly savoured moments are without doubt the marriage with Grace Kelly and the births of the Royal children.

The documentary speaks to all the episodes of Prince Rainier’s life from childhood right up to his last appearance at his beloved circus festival with Princess Stéphanie, a reminder also of his love for wild animals including monkeys.

No wonder several more expositions of the documentary are planned. It’s worthy of a much wider exposure so TV channels are bound to be eager for the opportunity to broadcast it to equally eager audiences.

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