Monday, January 5, 2015

THE GRIMALDI CURSE and THE MISTRESSES OF THE PRINCES OF MONACO : JANUARY 2015 MISTRESSES OF THE MONTH

MONACO - a tax haven and playground for the extremely rich, a great place to loose a lot of money at the Monte Carlo Casino for those who don't care how much they loose, with its plethora of multimillionaires and billionaires and some of the highest real estate values on earth, a harbor full of boats, Grand Prix races, and home of the unruly Grimaldi family - is, in my not so humble opinion, possibly one of the best places on earth to have a Mistress, be a Mistress, or meet a woman who wants to be one, at least before marriage. 

In September of 2010, I featured Nicole Coste, the ex airline stewardess who has a son with Albert II of Monaco, as Mistress of the Month here at MISTRESS MANIFESTO.  It's said that Albert II might have married her but his father, Ranier III, objected strongly.  (Is Albert II still seeing her?  Most likely he still visits with his son.  They live not too far away.)

I've asked "Is Monaco the Mistress Capital of the World?"

I've never been there but I'm a Monaco watcher.  I like to read about what's going on in this teeny tiny principality, maybe because my mom liked Princess Grace.  

So, to get one thing out of the way before I go on, I want to say that I think Princess Charlene is terrific and I hate erroneous stories that have her fleeing her own wedding or interpreting her crying at her wedding as a negative.  What woman doesn't shed at least a few tears of heartfelt emotion at a wedding?  I know I do as a wedding guest!  

Princess Charlene is one more Princess who proves being one is no easy life.  I do think all of Charlene's sports training and swim competitions, which included Olympic training and competition, helped her gain endurance, courage, and a fighting spirit for life.  Mid December 2014, the 36 year old Princess, who was with Albert II for six years before they wed about three years ago, had twins, Jacques (first in line for the throne) and Gabriella (second in line for the throne though born two minutes earlier than Jacques by cesarean delivery).  The pictures released by the palace of the happy family are adorable.

It's not lost on me that Princess Charlene converted to Catholicism before marriage in order to marry Albert II, that a woman who begins dating a man when she's 30ish and more fertile may have to resort to fertility treatments to get pregnant all those years later, or that she is the one more likely to raise those children to adulthood since Albert II is 20 years older than her!

The billionaire Albert II, besides being long known as one of the world's most dedicated Players,  is one of the busiest men on this earth, keeping a relentless schedule, and is now a major contributor to oceanic science as his grandfather once was.

It is also not lost on me, however, that Charlene was surely Albert's mistress before she was his fiancée or wife, similar to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who put a lot of mistress time in before her marriage to Prince William, the Duke; both women were available for travel and not known for developing careers during their extremely long courtships and never mind if their love interest was unmarried.

There is a tradition of having Mistresses in the Grimaldi family and, as you may have heard, there is speculation that the reason so many Grimaldi's have had unconventional or unusual marriages is because of something called "The Grimaldi Curse."  That Curse may be the real reason Albert II waited to near senior citizen-hood to wed!

The origins of this Curse are said to have been as far back as in the 13th Century when their tricky ancestor managed to take the territory for his family, a territory which was once something like 20 times bigger than it is today.   He pretended to be a monk but had a sword under his cloak.  It all happened on that huge rock where the Palace is now.  Various stories have emerged as to the origins of the bad luck in marriage that the Grimaldi's have had such as that a witch was raped by a Grimaldi ancestor. The Curse may also extend to unusual ways to die, such as boating (Princess Caroline's second husband) and car accidents (Princess Grace).

In this month's featured book, THE FRENCH RIVIERA - A Cultural History, by Julian Hale, we learn that ownership of the territory of Monaco was not always a sure thing for the family, that at points they were near impoverished,  that there have been a number of issues with succession that included a Norman man who married into the family changing his name to Grimaldi, and well, that they indeed have had a terrible time with marriage.  It's the best book that included the history of the family that I've read.

Fast forward to the 20th and 21st century.  Why does the current younger generation of Grimaldi's have such extremely long engagements before marriage and even bear illegitimate children? 

Princess Caroline, the oldest daughter of Ranier III and Grace Kelly, has been married thrice: an early marriage with a much older Player which was - eventually - annulled, the marriage to Stephano Casiraghi that she had three children in, which ended when her husband was killed in a boating accident, and a third later in life marriage with a Prince she "stole" from a friend and had a child with.  (The whereabouts of Ernst August are always a mystery.  He does not appear to have been anywhere near Monaco in years and is speculated to most likely be keeping a mistress somewhere, maybe Thailand?  As I understand it his name is not spoken in Monaco.)

Princess Stephanie has three children, and a history of many generally very unstable relationships, including a marriage to the father of two of her children which her own father disapproved of that ended in disgrace when he was caught cheating.  She says she may be a Princess but first of all she is human.  Ok, we can relate.

The children of Caroline and her second husband, the late Italian businessman Stefano Casiraghi are Andre, Pierre, and Charlotte.

Andre, the heir apparent, until Charlene had her babies, was with his girlfriend Tatianna Santo Domingo for years - a decade? - before they married, and then only after they had a child.  His brother Pierre, has been with Beatrice Borromeo for years.  (They are reportedly to wed in April 2015.)  They've been in no rush. Charlotte, has had a love child with comedian and actor Gad Elmaleh.  He's Jewish.  The child was baptized.  

Are all these delays and extreme engagements an attempt to beat the Curse?


That's my guess. 

After all, you love who you love, and after years with someone you kind of know that you get along!

To be more pragmatic, I imagine that two very rich young people might need their lawyers to figure out their finances and possibly contracts regarding divorce for years past when one has a baby. 

But you must remember, this family is Catholic.  That's right.  Charlene converted to Catholicism, met the Pope, and is said to have even prayed to saints in order to become pregnant.  Catholics are supposed to be more conservative, faithful in marriage, and do marriage before having babies.

One of the ways that various Grimaldi have held on to marriages or circumvented the displeasures of the marriages they made was to have mistresses.

In 1869 Albert I, who would succeed his father Charles III in 1889 and might be considered one of Monaco's first Playboy Princes, married Marie-Victoire de Douglas - Hamilton, but he took a mistress.  Marie-Victoire then fell for a Hungarian Count and (pages 46-47 of the book) after a "bitter and almost bankrupting divorce, the marriage was annulled."  Then Albert I married his mistress, the former American Alice Heine, who was not only American but from a German-Jewish background, and was formerly also still known as the widowed Duchess de Richelieu.  She played the part Princess Grace would play decades later in being a kind of First Lady of Monaco. Alice then had an affair with a British composer while Albert I was off one of his scientific oceanographic trips.  She still held her title and her marriage when she died in 1925.

 
(February 10, 1858 - December 22, 1925)
 
This picture of Alice is from


So Louis II, the son of Albert and Marie-Victoire, had a daughter named Princess Charlotte, and she married Prince Pierre de Polignac.  (Are the family given names sounding familiar?) and they had Prince Ranier III in 1923, the man who would marry Grace Kelly, the Hollywood actress from a well to do Philadelphia family and mother of today's Albert, Caroline, and Stephanie.  Ranier III's upbringing was in a dysfunctional family.  (Page 50)  Ranier III had to face the problem of not having an heir by 1949, five years after having been formally made heir to the throne in 1944 at the young age of twenty-one.  He had a long-standing relationship with a French film star for six years, named Gisele Pascal.

 
(17 September 1921 - 2 February 2007)
 
This picture of Gisele Marie Madeleine Tallone AKA Gisele Pascal is from
Maybe few Americans have heard of her because she wasn't a Hollywood actress.
 
Supposedly this mistress of Ranier III, an actress of less fame than Grace Kelly, was rejected because she was infertile.  Gisele was the daughter of a flower seller from nearby Nice, a humble background.   She and Ranier III shared a villa at Beaulieu, she kept up with her career, and he with his - as a ceremonial figurehead.  Funny how after they split, she married, and had a child.

Ranier III also came to the throne having to face that his father had left half his - or Monaco's - fortune to his latest mistress.  He fought to get it back. 

Though he clearly mourned Grace Kelly, his wife and mother of his children, it is said that Rainier III also kept at least one mistress during his marriage.  It is said that he would claim to be going to a sporting event, have a retainer go to the event and report back to him so he could report back to Grace, and go off to visit his mistress.
 
*****

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