Monaco’s Princely Family Ends the Month on High Notes of Religion, Sport & Fashion

  January 30, 2011 at 6:00 am by

The Monegasque people are busy this week with the feast days of their patron saint, Saint Devote, which is celebrated over two days in the last week of January. There is also the circus happening, and that ends on the same day of the feast. Last week, we can imagine that the tiny principality was amok with the roaring of car engines and the smell of burning rubber — the consequences of the 79th edition of the Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo (aka the “Monaco Rally”), which happened from 19-22 January. The rally was still going on when the elephants, tigers, and horses began streaming in. The smells of animal waste filled the air as the Big Tent was set up in Fontvieille, Monaco’s industrial district.

View the image at Daylife

The Sovereign, Prince Albert II, and his sister Princess Stephanie, who is the president of the circus committee, headed up the VIP delegation at the inaugural performances — assisted by Stephanie’s daughter, Pauline, and the two youngest of the four children of the absent Princess Caroline, Pierre Casiraghi and Princess Alexandra. The Sovereign’s fiancee, Charlene Wittstock, and two grandchildren of the nonagenarian Princess Antoinette — Laetitia de Massy and Keith Knecht — joined the entourage for the Circus Awards early this week. Last week, Princess Caroline had a luncheon in Brussels — an important occasion attended by members of the Belgian royal family to raise funds for community-building protects for the orphans of Burundi.

But Caroline was in Monaco in time for Wednesday night’s “alighting” of the boat. It has been many years since Caroline has joined her brother for this symbolic act of atonement for the sins against the Corsican who was martyred and canonized as Saint Devote, protector of Corsica and Monaco. Together, Prince Albert, Charlene, and Princess Caroline lit their torches and set fire to a boat. This was Charlene’s debut in the tradition of Saint Devote and her soon-to-be sister-in-law’s first return to the tradition after several years’ estrangement.

Since the death of the late Prince Rainier III, his successor and only son, Albert II, has alone presided over this religious occasion. But this year, a new age seems to be dawning. Next year, he must attend the rituals with his Princess Consort and in the year after that, perhaps, their child!

The Casiraghis aren’t strangers to the tradition of Saint Devote, but none of them have participated in the traditions since small childhood. Princess Alexandra has never participated in the tradition. Princess Stephanie has kept her own children out of most of Monaco’s official engagements, with some notable exceptions, such as the circus.

View the image at The Daily Mail

Charlotte Casiraghi is in Paris attending events affiliated with Couture Week. A fortnight ago, Charlotte racked some impressive results in the five-star equestrian jumping in Basel, Switzerland. With her good scores, she pocketed 160 Swiss Francs. This week is totally different. On Monday, she attended the Etam lingerie show with her boyfriend since 2007, art gallery owner Alexander Dellal. Not only were they in the front row, but they were next to Kate Moss! Naturally, the society columns of Tuesday were all about “fashion royalty meeting the real thing!” Etam was a failing company until its 2009 relaunch by Natalia Vodianova at the Paris Ritz. Charlotte has attended the relaunch as well as the 2010 show, and now again. Next weekend, Charlotte will return to the saddle to compete in the Jumping de Bordeaux.

On Tuesday, Charlotte and Dellal attended the Vogue-Gucci gala dinner at the Italian Embassy on the Rue Varenne. This was both pleasure and business, as Charlotte is the Gucci Group’s own equestrian “ambassadrice.” It was a truly star-studded event, attended by the Hollywood diva Jessica Alba and the British socialite Poppy Delevigne, among many others.

View the image at Daylife

Meanwhile, Prince Albert and Charlene were having fun at the circus (see pictures), the more so because Tuesday was Charlene’s birthday! She was born 33 years ago in Zimbabwe, almost like another platinum blonde who caught the fancy of a prince. Prince Albert donned the wig of “Bella Nook,” who won the Clown Award!

On Thursday, Prince Albert and Charlene took part in the somber Mass of Saint Devote at the Cathedral of Monaco. The Mass is conducted partly in Latin and partly in Corsican. After the Mass, the veiled Charlene, who was dressed completely in black, per the custom, and the Prince returned to the Palace to watch the procession from the Cathedral.

The circus continues on through the weekend.

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