Jewel History: The Princely Wedding at Monte Carlo (1920)

"The Princely Wedding at Monte Carlo"
(originally appeared in the Times of London on 22 Mar 1920)

Monte Carlo, March 21 -- The religious ceremony of marriage between the Duchesse de Valentinois [1], adopted daughter of Prince Louis of Monaco [2], son of the reigning Prince [3], and Count Pierre de Polignac [4] took place yesterday. The bridal procession was headed by Prince Albert of Monaco, who was accompanied by representatives of the French President and the Kings of Italy, Spain, and the Belgians. The bride looked very charming in a simple frock of white moire satin, the train falling from her waist.

As trainbearers she had two cousins of the bridegroom, who before the ceremony had become naturalized as a Monegasque subject and had taken the title of Duc de Valentinois. Cardinal Luçon, Archbishop of Reims, delivered the address and pronounced the nuptial benediction. The newly married couple returned on foot to the palace, where they had come out on the balcony to acknowledge the cheers of the assembled crowd. The Duc and Duchesse left later for Florence on their honeymoon.

The civil marriage took place on Friday in the Throne Room, otherwise known as the Salle Grimaldi, which was exquisitely decorated. There was a large gathering of official and other personages. The bride wore a charming costume of dove grey, and over it an ample plain crepe de Chine mantle with a broad brown fur collar and brown fur border.

M. François Roussel, President of the Council of State, read an address notable for its fine literary form. He is an accomplished writer and author. Addressing the Duchess first, he sketched her childhood and her self-sacrificing work as a war nurse. Turning to the bridegroom, he said that the country welcomed with respectful joy the representative of a French family of such ancient nobility. Various formalities having been fulfilled, he declared the princely couple united.

The garden party on Thursday was a great success. One thousand five hundred invitations had been issued and the terrace and beautiful gardens of the historic palace were densely crowded. The Duchesse de Valentinois did the honours most charmingly, assisted by the members of the princely family, and presented her fiancé to many visitors. There was a gala performance at the opera in the evening, when the Shah of Persia [5] was among the brilliant audience.

In the evening after the civil marriage there was a Venetian fête, which was a magnificent success. It was a perfect starlit night, and the sea was absolutely calm. The Prince's and other yachts, which had been decorated by day in rainbow fashion, were outlined with electric lights, and all the houses even far up the mountain slopes were illuminated with Monegasque red and white lights. The Casino and terraces furnished a splendid display, and even the tramway-cars flamed with scarlet and white lamps.

There were hundreds of boats all glorious with red and white lanterns and decorated with ingenious artistic luminous transparencies, representing swans, fishes, and sea horses. Able admirals in command maneuvered the glittering fleets with great skill. Outside the harbour, convoys appeared mysteriously out of the darkness, winding over the sea like serpents of fire. Other fleets sallied out of the port into the Bay of Hercules. The fireworks were magnificent, even for Monaco. Not in 22 years have I seen such a gorgeous display.

1. Princess Charlotte of Monaco, Duchess of Valentinois (1898-1977), born Charlotte Louise Juliette Louvet, was the illegitimate daughter of Prince Louis II of Monaco and an French cabaret singer and restaurant hostess, Marie Juliette Louvet. Juliette met Prince Louis through her mother, Joséphine, who was Louis's laundress in Paris. Prince Louis had no legitimate children, so to avoid a succession crisis, he adopted Charlotte in 1918, making her second in line to the Monegasque throne. She is the grandmother of the current Prince of Monaco, Albert II.
2. Prince Louis II of Monaco (1870-1949), Charlotte's father, was the Hereditary Prince of Monaco in 1920.
3. Prince Albert I of Monaco (1848-1922), Charlotte's grandfather, was the reigning Prince of Monaco in 1920. Prince Louis was Albert's only child, the product of his first marriage to Scottish aristocrat Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton. By 1920, Albert had long been legally separated from his second wife, the American-born Alice Heine.
4. Count Pierre de Polignac (1895-1964) became Prince Pierre of Monaco, Duke of Valentinois on his marriage to Princess Charlotte. Pierre's father, Count Maxence de Polignac, was French; his mother, Susana de la Torre y Mier, was born in Mexico.
5. Ahmad Shah Qajar (1898-1930), the last ruler of the Qajar dynasty in Iran.