We left our hotel in Menton, France and took a fifteen minute train ride to Monte Carlo, the second smallest country, the smallest being the Vatican City. We felt confident to leave our car behind, because Monaco is only 2 square kilometers (1.24 square miles). The Principality of Monaco is bordered by France to the north, south and west and by the Mediterranean Sea to the East.
Who Rules Monaco? It is ruled by the Grimaldi family and the present ruler is Prince Albert II. Monaco gained its independence from the Republic of Genoa on 8th January 1297. The first Grimaldi conqueror was said to have disguised himself as a monk and when let into the city, he opened the gates to his army. He is called Grimaldi, the Sly One.
Monaco Grand Prix: When crossing the narrow streets and looking at the sharp bends, it was difficult to imagine racing cars whizzing at lightning speed.
Monte Carlo Casino and Wealth Foreigners; The following James Bond movies have been shot in the casino: “Never say Never Again, – Golden Eye – and Casino Royale. The casino is off-limits to the locals who are known as Monegasques who happen to be a minority in their country. The country is home to wealthy foreigners and their villas and yachts are beautiful and prominent. I was told by a worker on a yacht, that it was owned by a corporation and it rents for $100,000 per day.
The Royals of Monaco:
In 1955, Grace Kelly, a famous American film actress met Prince Rainier of Monaco at his palace. The following day, Ranier met Grace’s family and three days later, he proposed marriage. The Kelly family paid a dowry of two million dollars and the wedding was watched by 30 million Americans. Rainier, after the wedding, banned his wife’s films in Monaco. They had three children: Caroline, Albert and Stephanie.
Princess Grace – Early Death: On September 13, 1982, while driving with her daughter, Stephanie, to , their country home, Roc Agel, on the French side of the border, Princess Grace suffered a stroke, which caused her to drive her Rover off the serpentine road down a mountainside. Grace was pulled alive from the wreckage, but had suffered serious injuries and was unconscious. She died the following day at the Monaco Hospital (renamed Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace – “The Princess Grace Hospital Centre”: Having never regained consciousness; she was 52 years old.
Final Comment: When we were photographing the palace, police sirens erupted and a black car escorted by motor cycles and backed up by another security car drove into the residence. The guard on duty said that “it might have been Prince Albert.” He is married to Prince Charlene who was a South African Olympic swimmer.