Monaco’s Princess Charlotte adopted in May 1911

  May 16, 2009 at 3:38 am by

Although Princess Charlotte of Monaco never ruled the tiny Principality, she became the transition branch of the family in a journey that began on this day in 1911. In 1911, Monaco’s Hereditary Prince remained heirless and the crown was poised to be passed to a distant German relative (Wilhelm, 2nd Duke of Urach who later became King of Lithuania). In a surprise announcement, Prince Louis’ father, Prince Albert I announced his approval for his son, then Hereditary Prince Louis II, to legitimize his only child. With that, Louis II’s only child, Charlotte Louise Juliette Louvet, rose from poverty in Algeria to become a Princess with accession rights.

Painting by László

Princess Charlotte Painting by László

Her Serene Highness Princess Charlotte was born in Constantine, Algeria on September 30, 1898 to Marie Juliette Louve and then Hereditary Prince Louis of Monaco, who was serving as a member of the French Foreign Legion in the region. Marie Louve’s background is a matter of disagreement by historians as is how and where Princess Charlotte lived prior to 1911.

The 1911 adoption was challenged several times by relatives and found to be in violation of prior constitutional rules. In response, a change of the Monaco Constitution was made in 1918 with a repeated adoption following in 1919 (some historians still consider this last adoption unconstitutional). After the second announcement in 1919, she officially gained the title Her Serene Highness Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois, the title of Hereditary Princess of Monaco and the surname Grimaldi.

Knowing she was unprepared for the role of Sovereign, Louis II immediately arranged a marriage to Count Pierre de Polignac of Guidel, Morbihan, Brittany, France on March 19, 1920. By agreement, the Count assumed the surname Grimaldi for his heirs and the title Prince of Monaco. Although the marriage, which was an unhappy disaster, ended by decree of Prince Louis II in early 1933, two new heirs joined the family. The first, Princess Antoinette, was born in 1920 but she moved down in the succession in 1923 on the birth of her younger brother Prince Rainier (later Prince Rainier III).

In 1944, Her Serene Highness The Princess Charlotte renounced her rights of inheritance in favor of her only son, Prince Rainier III who immediately became Hereditary Prince and later of Sovereign of Monaco in 1949.

A colorful character and a rebel long before her time, Princess Charlotte remained a part of the lives of her children occasionally attending official functions and obtained a college degree before her death in 1977 in France. Biographers claim that her last act was to bypass her daughter-in-law Princess Grace, by passing along her jewels and tiaras directly to her granddaughter, Princess Caroline. Although no one knows if that is true, Princess Caroline is often photographed wearing the jewels and tiaras.

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