Le Prince Rainier sous toutes ses facettes
A series of exhibitions pay tribute to Prince Rainier of Monaco who would have turned 100 on
31 May 2023 all year round.
By Milena Radoman
Mariage civil de la Princesse Grace et du Prince Rainier III, jardins du Palais Princier, Monaco, 1956. © Archives du palais princier de Monaco
Portrait du Prince Rainier III, bureau d’apparat, Palais Princier, Monaco, 1958. © Loïc Repiquet - Archives du palais princier de Monaco
La famille Princière dans les jardins du Palais Princier, Monaco,1959. © LoÏc Repiquet - Archives du palais de Monaco
On the throne for 56 years, Prince Rainier is the longest reigning prince of Monaco. He oversaw a country that expanded by almost a quarter when it reclaimed 31 hectares from the sea, abolished the death penalty 19 years before France, held 62 television festivals (beginning in 1961) and 29 circus festivals (beginning in 1974). For the 100th anniversary of his birth, Monaco wanted to pay homage to the much-admired prince. “This is a tribute to everything he did for our country, things we are still enjoying today. It is also a chance for a new generation of people who did not know him to find out who he was”, explains his daughter Princess Stéphanie, president of the centenary commemorations committee. She adds: “He forged the image of the Principality, began its international commitment, especially by bringing Monaco into the UN.” Through various exhibitions organised during this centenary year, the many different sides to Monaco’s former Head of State are revealed, and they include scenes from both his public and private life.
Prince Rainier: the man at home
Throughout the summer, the public will be able to see pictures of the prince from the family archives – most of them unpublished or unknown – on display in the State Apartments at the Prince’s Palace. The images depict scenes from his entire life, from when he was born and cared for by his English nurse to when he became Head of State and had to navigate the Franco-Monegasque crisis of 1962 against Général de Gaulle. They also show him focused on his keen interest in creating wrought-iron sculptures, not forgetting some incredible snapshots where his characteristic mischief, complicity and love for his family are expressed. “Prince Rainier III felt truly at home in the Palace of Monaco. He was the first sovereign to be born there since Honoré IV in 1758. He strived to restore and defend the identity of his country throughout his reign”, explains Thomas Fouilleron and Vincent Vatrican, directors of the Palatine Archives and the Audiovisual Institute and curators of this informative exhibition.
A collection of Rainier III sculptures
The streets and gardens of Monaco are full of ancient sculptures and contemporary art by Bourdelle, César, Arman, Anish Kapoornow and others, with Chemin Rainier III now enhancing the collection. This heritage trail, featuring several hundred works and fountains by artists, invites visitors to discover the pieces that were acquired during his reign, as part of the Monte-Carlo international sculpture festival. QR codes are displayed near each sculpture and visitors can scan them for details on the specific history of the work, its creator and how it relates to the Principality.
The builder prince
Another exhibition – one of whose curators is none other than the monarchy specialist Stéphane Bern – is also well worth a visit. It is entitled Le Prince bâtisseur. Une ambition pour Monaco, [The builder prince. An ambition for Monaco].
The exhibition aims to show how Prince Rainier III transformed and left a lasting impression on his country. Mock-ups, maps, photographs and unpublished documents give visitors insight into how he turned out to be “utterly revolutionary in his approach to urban planning”.