Albert II (Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi; born 14 March 1958) is the reigning monarch of the Principality of Monaco and head of the princely house of Grimaldi. He is the son of Prince Rainier III and the American actress Grace Kelly. Prince Albert’s sisters are Caroline, Princess of Hanover, and Princess Stéphanie. In July 2011, Prince Albert married Charlene Wittstock.
Prince Albert II is one of the wealthiest royals in the world, with assets valued at more than $1 billion, which include land in Monaco and France. Although Prince Albert does not own the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, he does own shares in the Société des bains de mer de Monaco, which operates Monaco’s casino and other entertainment properties in the principality.
Albert was born in the Prince’s Palace of Monaco. He has ancestry from Ireland, Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Mexico, Belgium, and Monaco. He was baptized on April 20th, 1958, by Monsignor Jean Delay, archbishop of Marseille, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Monaco, before being presented at the balcony of the Palace to the people of Monaco. His godmother was the Spanish queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, and his godfather was Prince Louis of Polignac. Albert graduated with distinction from the Lycée Albert Premier, in 1976.
He was a camper and later a counselor for six summers at Camp Tecumseh, on Lake Winnipesaukee, Moultonborough, New Hampshire, in the 1970s. He spent a year training in various princely duties and enrolled at Amherst College, in western Massachusetts, in 1977 as Albert Grimaldi, studying political science, economics, music, and English literature; he also joined Chi Psi fraternity. He speaks French, English, German, and Italian.
He spent the summer of 1979 touring Europe and the Middle East with the Amherst Glee Club, and graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Albert also undertook an exchange program with the University of Bristol, at the Alfred Marshall School of Economics and Management in 1979.
Albert was an enthusiastic sportsman, participating in cross country, javelin throwing, handball, judo, swimming, tennis, rowing, sailing, skiing, squash and fencing. He is a patron of Monaco’s football team, AS Monaco.
Albert competed in the bobsleigh at five consecutive Winter Olympics for Monaco, taking part in both the two-man and four-man events. In the two-man bobsleigh Albert finished 25th at the 1988 games in Calgary, 43rd at the 1992 games in Albertville, and 31st at the 2002 games. In the four-man bobsleigh Albert finished 27th in 1992, 26th at the 1994 games in Lillehammer, and 28th at both the 1998 games in Nagano and the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. Albert was Monaco’s flag bearer at the 1988, 1994, and 1998 Winter Olympics. Albert has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1985, and his maternal grandfather, John B. Kelly Sr., and maternal uncle, John B. Kelly Jr., were both Summer Olympic medal winners in rowing.
Albert took part in the 1985 Paris–Dakar Rally, but did not finish it. He also became a judo black belt.
On 7 March 2005, Albert’s father was admitted to a hospital in the principality; he was later moved to an intensive care ward. The Prince was being treated for breathing, kidney, and heart trouble. On 31 March 2005, the Palace of Monaco announced that Hereditary Prince Albert would take over the duties of his father as regent since Rainier was no longer able to exercise his functions as sovereign. This decision was reached by the Crown Council of Monaco, a body made up of notable local figures with residual powers to make judgments about certain constitutional matters. The 47-year-old prince spent his first day as regent of Monaco caring for his critically ill 81-year-old father who was at that time Europe’s longest serving monarch and the world’s third longest serving monarch.
On 6 April 2005, Rainier III died and Albert succeeded him as Albert II.
The first part of Prince Albert II’s enthronement as ruler of the Principality was on 12 July 2005, after the end of the three-month mourning period for his father. A morning Mass at Saint Nicholas Cathedral presided over by the Archbishop of Monaco, the Most Reverend Bernard Barsi, formally marked the beginning of his reign. Afterward Albert II returned to the princely palace to host a garden party for 7,000 Monégasques born in the principality. In the courtyard, the Prince was presented with two keys of the city as a symbol of his investiture and he made a speech. The evening ended with a spectacular fireworks display on the waterfront.
The second part of his investiture was on 19 November 2005. Albert was enthroned at Saint Nicholas Cathedral. His family was there in attendance, including his elder sister Princess Caroline with her husband Ernst, Prince of Hanover and three of her four children, Andrea, Pierre and Charlotte; as well as his younger sister Princess Stéphanie, his paternal aunt Princess Antoinette, Baroness of Massy, his godson, Jean-Léonard Taubert-Natta de Massy, and his cousin Elisabeth-Anne de Massy. Royalty from 16 delegations were present for the festivities throughout the country. The evening ended with an opera performance in Monte Carlo.
Prince Albert continues the policy – initiated by previous rulers of Monaco – of strengthening environmental awareness. Just like his great-great-grandfather Albert I, he travelled to Spitsbergen in July 2005. During this trip, he visited the glaciers Lilliehöökbreen and Monacobreen. Prince Albert II also engaged in a Russian Arctic expedition, reaching the North Pole on Easter, 16 April 2006. As a result, he is the first incumbent head of state to have reached the North Pole.
Prince Albert is the Vice-Chairman of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, an American charity founded in 1982, after his mother’s death, which supports emerging artists in theatre, dance and film, as Princess Grace did in her lifetime.
In 2006, Prince Albert created the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which continues the Principality of Monaco’s commitment by supporting sustainable and ethical projects around the world. The foundation focus on three main challenges: climate change and renewable energy development; combating the loss of biodiversity; and water management (improving universal access to clean water). Albert is also a global adviser to Orphans International.
On August 27, 2015, Prince Albert apologized for Monaco’s role in facilitating the deportation of a total of 90 Jews and resistance fighters, of whom only nine survived. “We committed the irreparable in handing over to the neighboring authorities women, men and a child who had taken refuge with us to escape the persecutions they had suffered in France,” Albert said at a ceremony in which a monument to the victims was unveiled at the Monaco cemetery. “In distress, they came specifically to take shelter with us, thinking they would find neutrality.”
Prior to Albert’s marriage, there was much discussion of his continual bachelor status. Although he had received much press attention for dating well-known fashion models and actresses, his apparent disinclination to marry gave rise to rumours that he was homosexual. Prince Albert has consistently denied suggestions of homosexuality, most notably in a 1994 interview published in the French magazine Madame Figaro. “At first it was amusing”, he said, “but it becomes very irritating in the long term to hear people say that I am homosexual”. In July 2011, Prince Albert married Charlene Wittstock.
In October 2005, the German magazine Bunte reported that Prince Albert was dating Telma Ortiz Rocasolano, a sister-in-law of the Prince of Asturias (who is now the king of Spain). However, in November 2005, the Prince instructed his lawyer, Thierry Lacoste, to commence legal proceedings against the French newspaper France Dimanche for violation of privacy and false information regarding the story.
In 2016, Albert purchased his mother’s childhood house in the East Falls district of Philadelphia. Upon acquiring Grace Kelly’s childhood property, he stated the home might be used as a museum space or as offices for the family’s Princess Grace Foundation.
Prince Albert married former South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock on 1 July 2011. They announced their engagement on 23 June 2010. They had been seen together since 10 February 2006, when Prince Albert was accompanied by Wittstock to the opening ceremony of the Torino Olympics. They were seen again together at the Monaco Grand Prix. The Prince and Wittstock attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and both the “Bal de la Rose”, and Princess Grace Awards Gala in 2009. They also attended the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics. As a couple, they also attended the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling in Stockholm four days before their own engagement was announced and the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton on 29 April 2011. The wedding took place over two days: the civil marriage ceremony took place on 1 July 2011, followed by the religious ceremony on 2 July 2011.
On 30 May 2014, it was announced by the Prince’s Palace of Monaco that Princess Charlene was pregnant, with the couple later announcing Charlene was expecting twins. The twins, Gabriella Thérèse Marie, Countess of Carladès and Jacques Honoré Rainier, Hereditary Prince of Monaco were born on 10 December 2014.