Monday, September 28, 2009

Sailing along through the royals' storms

Partial view of The Hudson River. Sunday at 1:30 PM. Photo: JH.
September 28, 2009. Rainy weekend in New York with cooler autumn air rolling in at night.

Royal Pains: The Rock and the Hard Place. Marriage-type Love, or: Kellys on their mother’s side.

Across the sea, in that tiny fabled principality of Monaco, overlooking the Mediterranean, no bigger than Central Park, the town’s most popular talk is about the neighbors up on the Rock, or more specifically, the Grimaldis, Their Serene Royal Highnesses, first family of Monaco.
The Rock, also known as Monacoville, the ancient fortress taken over eight centuries ago by a man dressed as a monk and brandishing a large dagger. The palace is in the foreground (with courtyard) and in the distance is the Oceanographic Institute built by a ruling ancestor.
Looking toward the Rock from Monte Carlo, over the Monaco harbor.
The word is that the ten-year marriage of Princess Caroline, eldest child of the late Princess Grace and Prince Rainer III, and her German husband HRH Prince Ernst August V of Hanover is kaput, and somebody has gotten the royal boot.

Caroline is said to have divided her time for the past three to six months sans husband, between her villa on the Rock, also known as Monacoville, and her house in St. Remy in Provence. Her 10-year-old daughter by Ernst, Princess Alexandra, has been enrolled in school in Monaco.
The young royal couple, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace with Albert, Caroline and baby Stephanie. The royal family growing up.
The Red Cross Ball 2006, the last attended by Prince Rainier. Left to right, Princess Stephanie, Prince Rainier, Prince Albert, Prince Ernst of Hanover, Princess Caroline, and Princess Antoinette, Rainier's sister.
The Red Cross Ball 2008: Princess Caroline, Prince Ernst, Charlene Whitstock, Prince Albert and Princess Stephanie.
Caroline’s children by her first marriage, Pierre, Andrea and Charlotte Casiraghi, now grown, also live in Monte Carlo although they are rarely there. Charlotte spends a lot of time in London where she is rumored to be engaged to Alex Dellal, 28, son of real estate tycoon Guy Dellal. Her son Andrea is with Tatiana Santo Domingo, daughter of Vera and the late Julio Mario Santo Domingo Jr. who lived here in New York and in Colombia. Her other son Pierre is the longtime boyfriend of supermodel Beatrice Borromeo.

Charlotte and Alex Dellal.
Prince Ernst is Caroline’s third husband. Her first was Philippe Junot, a Paris banker whom she married him when she was twenty-one. She got an annulment two years later, just as her mother predicted (because Junot was sixteen years older and had a reputation as a playboy).

After Junot she was briefly engaged to Roberto Rossellini, the son of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini. Then in 1983 she married Stefano Casiraghi, heir to an Italian industrial fortune. Casiraghi was killed in a speedboat accident seven years later at age 30.

Before Prince Rainier died in 2006,
and because his heir-presumptive Prince Albert had still not married, there was much discussion in Monaco about Princess Caroline’s role in the line of succession because of her two sons.

Some believed that Albert would never succeed to the head of the House of Grimaldi. The business of Albert and paternity was already confounding for his father. Before Rainier died, Albert had already fathered three children – all out of wedlock: a girl in Germany, a girl in California and a son who lives with his African mother, a former airline stewardess, in Villefranche.

Rainier’s response was to change the law which states that only a blood or legitimate heir can rule Monaco. In the original law, if Monaco’s ruler did not produce an heir, Monaco would be returned to France.
The Royal Couple, HRH Prince and Princess Ernst August V of Hanover in more sparkling times. Princess Caroline and her father.
Clockwise from above: Princess Caroline being photographed by her close friend Karl Lagerfeld and his digital; Charlotte, Pierre and Andrea Casiraghi, children of Caroline.
Charlotte and Andrea Casiraghi. Charlotte Casiraghi.
Caroline is a beauty but she is also known to have a strong personality and strong opinions. For example, it is said that she does not attend royal functions when her sister Princess Stephanie is present. Enough is enough. She is also very much the Big Sister to her brother and said to be not crazy about Prince Albert’s girlfriend Charlene Whitstock. Many believed the couple would marry last year but this has not happened. Some believe it is because Charlene cannot have children – another rumor.

Prince Albert, who went to Amherst and spent a lot of time in the US, despite his title, has a very American manner and speaks English with a natural-sounding American accent. His college friends still call him “Al.” Although his issue so far are regarded as illegitimate, that is not something new in the Grimaldi line where marriages took place in the past after the fact and legitimacies were provided to right the line and keep up the natural succession. The Grimaldi line actually began with an Italian marauder in the 12th or 13th century who one dark night, dressed as a monk and concealing a knife, knocked on the palace door and when gaining entry proceeded to kill the inhabitants and take over the place.
Clockwise from top left: The young prince and princess Grace and Rainier; The official wedding portrait of the American movie star and her Mediterranean prince; The newlyweds waving to their guests; Charlene Whitstock and Prince Albert.
Princess Stephanie is the wild card of the three children of Grace and Rainier, and you can see why her choices would annoy her sister who maintains a proper pose in her marital relationships.

She married her first husband Daniel Ducret in 1995. Ducret had worked in a pet store and as a fishmonger before he got a job with the Monaco police and was assigned to the palace as a bodyguard for Prince Albert where he met Albert’s gamine of a sister.

Stephanie and Ducret had two children, a son, Louis, in 1992 and a daughter, Pauline, in 1994, and the following year, in 1995, they married. That’s love in them thar hills, albeit it was a little hard to take for certain members of the bride’s family.
Princess Stephanie at the Monte-Carlo Beach Club ... and at the beach.
Princess Stephanie on a visit to New York with her children Pauline and Louis. Pauline.
The couple divorced a year later after a story appeared in an Italian magazine about Ducret and a Belgian stripper named Fili Houteman, with more than 40 pages of photos of the couple in various stages of lovemaking, dress and undress.

Two years later, Stephanie had another child, a girl, Camille. This time she refused to name the father, although he was rumored to be another very good looking bodyguard of Prince Rainier’s – someone Rainier liked – possibly a man named Jean Marc Gottlieb. After that, Stephanie took up with her father’s valet, and with then an elephant trainer named Franco Knie of the Knie Circus.

A couple of years later, in 2003, Stephanie married Adan Lopez Perez, an acrobat with the Knie Circus. She divorced him a year later. Lately the rumors following her lovelife put her with a waiter in a seaside restaurant in Cap d’Ail, right next to Monaco.

Princess Stephanie apparently has what the French call nostalgie de la boue. Or, translated in broad American terms: the desire to get down. Aside from her marriages and maternity, however, Stephanie has also pursued a career as a singer, as a designer and briefly as a shopkeeper in Monte Carlo.
Princess Caroline's yacht, the PACHA II where she spent much of her time this past summer, away from her husband.
Meanwhile, Caroline: This past summer, the princess spent a lot of her time on her yacht PACHA II (Pierre/Andrea/Charlotte). She did not attend the annual Red Cross Ball for the first time in her adult life. This was fodder for all kinds of speculation by the Monegasques, especially since she did go to London to attend the wedding Prince and Princess Michael of Kent’s son Lord Frederick Windsor’s wedding at Hampton Court.

Perhaps she felt it was her royal duty to attend the royal wedding (although Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, as well as Charles and his Duchess, and his sons William and Harry, did not attend.

In the European royal scheme of things, Ernst is much higher ranking than Caroline, as he is a Royal Highness to her Serene Highness, with his ancestral connection to the British royals, including his great-grandfather Kaiser Wilhelm who was the grandson of Queen Victoria. So, in a very real way that counts with these people, Caroline was marrying up when she married him.
Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, and Princess Stephanie.
Before he married Caroline, Ernst was in the line of succession to the British throne, bound by the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. Only number 385, to be precise, but nevertheless, before he married Caroline, he had first to make a formal request to Queen Elizabeth II for permission to marry, because of Caroline’s religion. Without the Queen’s permission, the marriage would have been void in England. That would also have put at risk Ernst’s right to certain British titles (like the Duke of Cumberland).

Upon marrying Caroline, however, he was excluded from the line of succession but his first three children, by his wife, Swiss chocolate heiress Chantal Hochuli, were all raised as Protestants, and are in line of succession for the British throne.

At the time of their marriage Princess Caroline, or rather the Monegasque court also officially notified France that she was marrying, and they received official assurance that there was no objection with the Franco-Monegasque Treaty. That Treaty allows the existence of Monaco as a principality independent of French sovereignty. If Caroline’s brother never fathers a legitimate heir, one of Caroline’s sons, possible Andrea, could be the next Prince of Monaco.
Prince Albert, Princess Caroline, and Prince Rainer.
There is speculation that the rupture in the Ernst/Caroline of Hanover marriage had to do with excessive leisure sports, like drinking, and the granddaddy of many a marital rift: money.

Princess Caroline is very rich, from her father and from her second husband’s family. She is also said to be tight with her money. Prince Ernst, on the other hand, while wealthy, has a very close friend with a hedge fund in Switzerland that is rumored to have lost an enormous amount of money with none other than New York’s own Bernie Madoff. Possibly billions.

Rumors all, of course, but like I said, Monaco’s like any small town where everyone knows somebody or works for somebody who heard something and told somebody.
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