Albert I (Monaco)

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Albert I. (photo by Nadar )

Albert I of Monaco (actually Albert Honoré Charles Grimaldi ; born November 13, 1848 in Paris ; † June 26, 1922 there ) was the ruling prince of Monaco from 1889 until his death .

Albert was the son of Charles III. by Monaco and Antoinette de Mérode-Westerloo .


Albert I served in the Spanish Navy at the age of 17, but switched to the French Navy during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/1871, where he was awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honor . His real preference, however, was not for the military, but for exploring the oceans. In this area he was able to achieve great successes in the course of his life, for example the discovery of a scaled deep-sea squid, which was then perceived as sensational and named after his family as Lepidoteuthis grimaldii . For its presentation, among other things, in 1889 he founded the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, which opened in 1910 . In 1911 the Institut Océanographique was opened in Paris (today Maison des Océans).

On September 21, 1869 he married Mary Victoria Hamilton , daughter of William Hamilton, 11th Duke of Hamilton (1811-1863), and Marie Amalie von Baden (1817-1888), who in turn was a daughter of Stéphanie de Beauharnais , the adopted daughter Napoleon Bonapartes was. The marriage failed, Mary Victoria left her husband in February 1870. At this point in time she was already pregnant with her son Ludwig . She moved to live with her mother in Baden-Baden at the court of the Grand Duke there , where their son and later Prince Louis II of Monaco grew up. In 1880, the marriage was from the Holy See on the grounds canceled to by Napoleon III. for political-dynastic reasons and Albert was only 20, his wife only 18 years old at the time of the marriage, so that the two apparently had no way of defending themselves against a marriage they did not want.

On September 27, 1889 Albert I succeeded his father to the throne and a little later married the wealthy American Alice Heine , a widowed Duchess of Richelieu. Even after his second wedding, Albert spent most of his time at sea. Alice Heine has since made a contribution to the cultural life in Monaco. The royal couple separated on May 30, 1902, but remained married. Albert then tried to destroy all traces of his ex-wife.

In 1910 there was a popular uprising in the unemployed principality. Among the 19,121 inhabitants there were only 1,482 Monegasque, all employees of the casino were foreigners, the tax revenue invested the mostly absent Prince in France. A political movement was formed, the Comité monégasque , which threatened the establishment of a republic if the prince did not agree to the abolition of the absolute monarchy through the introduction of a constitution and the election of a parliament by the citizens. Further demands were directed to the replacement of French officials by Monegasque, the lifting of the monopoly of the Blanc family over the casino and the separation of the finances of the state and the princely house. At the beginning of March the prince was given an ultimatum. Albert's first concessions, the granting of freedom of the press and local elections, did not calm the mood, so there was a storm on the palace, which was defended by the guard until the prince was able to get to France to safety. Troubled by the simultaneous revolution in Portugal, the prince finally gave in and on November 16, 1910 announced the adoption of a constitution, which came into force on January 15, 1911. The latter gave in to most of the demands, but retained considerable political power for the prince. In 1917, during the First World War, Albert I temporarily suspended the constitution. It then remained in force until 1962 when it was replaced by a new one.

Albert was known to stand up for his beliefs; this also included his belief in justice and truth. For example, during the Dreyfus affair, he stood up for the French officer Alfred Dreyfus, who was wrongly convicted of espionage .

Since Albert still spent a large part of his time as an explorer at sea, he ruled the principality primarily via radio. Obviously he was nevertheless successful: He invested the immense profits from the casino in the infrastructure, had the Prince's Palace in Monaco renovated, the Exotic Garden in Monaco laid out and founded an anthropological museum.

In 1910 he became an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg . In 1891 he became a corresponding member of the Académie des sciences (since 1909 “  associé étranger  ”). The Albertbank in the Antarctic Weddell Sea is named in his honor. The same applies to Cape Monaco on Anvers Island in the Antarctic Bellingshausen Sea and Albert I Land on Svalbard .

Albert's only son and heir to the throne, Hereditary Prince Louis, who grew up with his mother in Baden-Baden as a child, but then served in the French army, was still not married after the end of the First World War. In the event of the death of both of them, the throne threatened to fall to the next of kin, a first cousin of the prince, the German cavalry general Wilhelm Karl Herzog von Urach . Louis and his father wanted to prevent this, as did the French government. Louis, however, had a mistress of many years, the French-Algerian variety dancer Marie-Juliette Louvet, and of her an illegitimate daughter Charlotte , who grew up in Algiers. Marriage to Marie-Juliette, a woman of dubious reputation, who had already been married to a photographer for erotic pictures, was out of the question according to Albert's will, given the reputation of the dynasty. After the end of the First World War, however, he agreed that Louis would take his daughter Charlotte to Monaco in 1919, legitimize her and adopt her. In addition, a count from the French royal family, Pierre Comte de Polignac , was found, with whom she was married in 1920. In order to finally secure the intended succession to the throne, Charlotte declared in 1944 the waiver in favor of her son Rainier III. who succeeded his grandfather Louis on the throne in 1949.

Albert died in Paris on June 26, 1922 and was buried on July 8 in Monaco Cathedral.


  • Ludovic de Colleville : Albert de Monaco intimate. Ouvrage illustrée de planches hors texte ; 1908
  • Thomas Veszelits: Monaco AG: How the Grimaldis gild their principality; Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / Main 2006, ISBN 978-3-593-37956-2 .
  • Albert I of Monaco: A Sailor Career. Memories. Regenbrecht Verlag, Berlin 2018 [first edition 1903]

Web links

Commons : Albert I, Prince of Monaco  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Le Prince Albert on the website of the Institut océanographique, Fondation Albert Ier, Prince de Monaco, accessed on August 27, 2017 (French)
  2. (en) «The Paradox; How Late Prince Had Fairly to Force Constitution on His Reluctant People Usual Jubilation Absent. The Prince's Explanation. A personal appeal. The gambling contract. », The New York Times, June 2, 1922
  3. ^ Foreign members of the Russian Academy of Sciences since 1724. Albert Honoré Charles Grimaldi or Albert I. Russian Academy of Sciences, accessed on August 21, 2015 (English).
  4. ^ List of members since 1666: Letter A. Académie des sciences, accessed on October 1, 2019 (French).
predecessor Office successor
Charles III Prince of Monaco
Louis II