Charlotte of Monaco
When Grace Kelly, Hollywood actress, millionaire's daughter and international beauty, married into Monaco's House of Grimaldi in 1956, she set off a genetic domino effect resulting in some seriously good-looking Monaco royals. Grace's fair Irish and German ancestry and the unusual, dark looks of the Rainiers made for an interesting combination.
Charlotte Casiraghi is the eldest daughter of former Italian industrialist, Stephano Casiraghi (killed in a boating accident) and Princess Caroline, who is the daughter of Grace Kelly and Prince Ranier III. Her step-father is Prince Ernst of Hanover and she has a stepsister, Alexandra, from that union. Unitl he became a Catholic through his marriage to Caroline, Prince Ernst was 385th in the line of succession to the British crown.
Before Diana, Princess of Wales became the obsession of the world paparazzi, Charlotte's mother Caroline was well and truly the royal in the spotlight. As Caroline blossomed into womanhood simultaneously with the dawn of the media driven celebrity age, her classic beauty, wealth and illustrious lineage made such 'persecution' inevitable.
Conscious of her own media-hounded youth and wishing to remove her chidren as far away as possible from prying eyes, after Charlotte's father was killed prematurely in a boating accident, Caroline moved the family to a relatively remote 19th Century in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in Southern France.
Yet geographic remoteness did not equate to isolation, as Caroline wss not over-protective with her children -they were enrolled them in the local day schools at Saint-Rémy and later at a school in in Fontainebleau. Caroline's childhood had in it's way, been far more sheltered, as she grew up in the rareffied atmosphere of the palace in a much less relaxed atmosphere.
A Lineage of Beauty
Physically, Charlotte is remarkably like her mother and darker than her two blonde brothers, Andrea and Pierre. There is also in her face, a fine precision, reminiscent of the clean, square cut features of her exquisite Grandmother, Princess Grace. Named after her Great Grandmother, Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois, Countess of Polignac, there is a strong resemblance here too (see oil painting, bottom right), in the full lips and calm, yet darkly smoldering expression.
Naturally, she is a beacon for royal watchers and the European tabloids but in public life, she handles herself with composure and a quiet confidence. Grace comes easily to her.
Charlotte's duties as a member of the House of Grimaldi are few, as she is a private citizen unbound by many of the protocals and commitments, yet still with a whopping great income, thus she is relatively free to pursue her own interests and inclinations.
As a teenager her name was romantically linked to various eligible squillionaires and in particular, a young man called Hubertus Herring-Frankensdorf, said to be a relative of Queen Margrethe of Denmark. However in recent years she has acquired a long-term boyfriend - Alexander Dellal, the British based trendy White Cube Gallery owner.
Said to be happiest when she is astride a thoroughbred horse, Charlotte of Monaco is heavily into International showjumping and was the brainchild behind the recently launched uspcale magazine, Global Champions Tour.
Charlotte attended the Sorbonne in Paris but it's unclear whether or not she came out with a degree. She has however, completed two internships with, the publishing house of Pierre Laffont in Paris and the Sunday magazine supplement of the British Gaurdian.
Perhaps preferring not to be stifled by her lineage, Charlotte appears to identify as a non-royal Casiraghi, rather than a Grimaldi royal andshe plits her time between three houses - Fountainbluea near Paris, Monaco, where her mother lives and London which is the home of her boyfriend.
No-one can really be sure of another's state of existence, but unburdened by the noblesse oblige of many royals, on the surface at least, Charlotte of Monaco appears to have the best of all worlds and a marvellous, carefree life most of us could only dream of. Hers is a world of extraordinary wealth and privilege, a stratosphere away from the lives of the vast majority of people - for her fifth birthday, her paternal grandparents presented her with a $9-million island off Sardinia. If one criticises such privilege, they are apt to be accused of 'envy' or 'sour grapes' or worse, yet I'll risk it as there's something in me that is compelled to say....there's just something not quite right about that.
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