This weekend, the palace in Monaco released new details about the upcoming births of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene's twins, who are expected to arrive around Christmas. Although Albert noted last week that it's possible the twins may come earlier, here's how we can expect the tiny principality to celebrate the birth of a future sovereign prince or princess regardless of their date of birth.
Cannons, bells, and horns: The births will be marked by cannon fire from Fort Antoine in Monaco-Ville. Forty-two shots will be fired in succession, twenty-one for each of the babies, regardless of the sex of the children. This is a departure from tradition -- in the past, Monegasque princesses have been welcomed with a twenty-one gun salute, while the birth of a male heir was marked with 101 cannon shots. Above, you can view newsreel footage of the 101-gun salute for Prince Albert in 1958. Church bells in Monaco will ring continuously for fifteen minutes, and then -- appropriately for a principality on the sea -- the horns of boats in the harbor will be sounded.
A formal birth announcement: In Monaco, the framed paper announcements of Grimaldi births are hung on the wall of the Palais Princier. Prince Albert II will sign the official proclamation to be viewed by the public.
Grace and Rainier present baby Albert to the people of Monaco
Presentation of the twins: In Monaco, the sovereign couple traditionally shows off their new babies from the balcony overlooking the courtyard of the palace, and Albert and Charlene are planning to follow suit. The official presentation of the twins will be scheduled after the births, but once the date is announced, anyone in Monaco is invited to attend the presentation in the palace square. For reference, Prince Albert was presented to the people of Monaco on April 19, 1958, about a month after he was born.
Festive decorations: Monaco's citizens are encouraged to show off their patriotic pride by busting out the bunting and flags usually reserved for the principality's National Day. But there are rules for the festive display: the decorations should go up when the births are announced, but they should be taken down on the day that the babies are officially presented by their parents at the Palais Princier. The silent newsreel footage from British Pathé above shows a glimpse of Monegasques decorating after the birth of Prince Albert in 1958.
A national holiday: Monegasques get the day off to celebrate the twins' births. The extra public holidays have to be one of the most enjoyable benefits of living in a country with a royal family, no?
It's clear that Albert and Charlene intend for the celebrations to recognize the twins equally, but of course, only one of the babies will end up being the nation's ruler. Here's how they'll decide which one takes the crown. If the babies are the same sex (two boys or two girls), the first baby born will be the future sovereign of Monaco. (Unless, of course, both babies are girls and Princess Charlene later gives birth to a son -- then he would leapfrog his sisters, because Monaco still has male-preference primogeniture.) If the twins are a boy and a girl, then, the boy will automatically become Monaco's hereditary prince.