A truly historic event for the National celebration of Prince Albert’s Day – to be accompanied by hereditary Prince Jacques, almost six year’s old, in full carabinier guards’ regalia. And completing the wonderful picture, the Sovereign’s wife Princess Charlène and their daugther Princess Gabriella. One of the oldest European dynasties lives on with the youngest of hopes.
And the March Past of the Prince’s guards celebrating 15 years of Prince Albert’s reign and their own 150 year history saluting their Sovereign was pomp at its most colourful and spectacular – the March and Salute as accurate as a metronome.
The beloved pomp and ceremony of the National Fête never yielded to the uniqueness of this year’s challenges faced by the world. Despite the dark clouds of the health crisis around most of the globe, the Principality remains an oasis of relative safety. Monaco’s health measures are strict but balanced, curfew but no lockdown. They work – so no throngs and wild outpourings of enthusiasm from crowds around the palace and streets. No fireworks, no packed calendar of events as usual. But there were throngs of the Principality’s striking flags flown in every corner of the State.
You could feel the warmth and affection radiating from every individual Monegasque, every resident and well-wisher radiating good fortune and good health toward their Sovereign, Princess Charlene, Princess Caroline of Hanover and all of the Royal family.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven (poetry by William Wordsworth). Quelle Belle Homage!
Te Deum Mass and Taking of Arms
At 10 am on the morning of Thursday’s Fête National the celebration began in earnest and with a note of solemnity with the mass of thanksgiving and Te Deum, in the cathedral in the presence of the Princely family. The religious ceremony was followed by true pomp and spectacle by the taking of arms in the main courtyard of the Prince’s Palace.
And even though entertainment had been cut back this year to protect everyone’s health the Prince ensured that those deserving of honours, those who serve the community would get their due.
Monaco Red Cross
The Cour d’Honneur was packed with presentations of honours, though in 2020 for health safety not by crowds of well-wishers – all of that had to be done at a safe distance and on social media.
Notably, for its fight against Covid–19 the Monaco Red Cross was recognized with the Order of Grimaldi – an exceptional honour.
November 19th is the day of Saint Rainier and Prince Albert could have followed tradition and chosen Saint Albert’s day – but he chose instead to retain November 19th – and not surprisingly on social media there were many outpourings of warmth not only for Prince Albert and the current royals but also in memory of his parents Princess Grace and Prince Rainier.
Origin of the Fête Nationale
Even though Monaco’s National Day (Fête du Prince) originated in the 18thcentury, not so far apart from American Independence in 1776, Monaco’s actual independence goes way back over 700 years to 1297 when Francesco Grimaldi took the Rock from the Genoese and destiny, Monaco and the Grimaldis all bonded to take the Principality forward to this very day. It is all part of Monaco’s great heritage blazoned into its coat of arms. Those two figures disguised as monks represent Francesco and Rainier Grimaldi who drew swords from beneath their monks’ robes and rid Monaco of the Genoese.