National Geographic : 1963 Apr
KODACHROME© NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY Sou'westered Prince Albert I, the great grandfather of Rainier III, looks out to sea near the Oceanographic Museum he found ed. He went to sea on more than 30 scientific explorations. Donna had a theory that seemed likely: The Grimaldis had cleverly kept pace with their times; they never let tradition interfere with progress. In the 14th century, the wealthy Grimaldis ruled the waters off Monaco and increased their fortunes by levying a droit de mer, or sea tribute, on all goods carried by vessels passing within sight of the Rock. For the next three centuries, even though outgunned by larger fleets, the Grimaldis held on to their tiny fief by negotiating protective treaties with both France and Spain, and by marrying their offspring into the wealthy and influential families of Europe. In the 1860's when Monaco's treasury ran low, Prince Charles III-Prince Rainier's an cestor-sold the rights to his country's strug gling casino. A shrewd businessman named Francois Blanc (White) obtained a 50-year operating concession. He guaranteed Monaco 550 a substantial share of profits from the casino. Francois Blanc transformed the pumpkin size principality into a Riviera playground. Grand dukes arrived in special trains to try their luck. Monegasque fishermen beached their boats, exchanged fish for chips, and be came nimble-fingered croupiers. Blanc's casino profits ran high; the saying still lives that "whether you bet red or black, White will win." The House of Grimaldi won, too. In 1869, Prince Charles III abolished taxes in Monaco. Albert I Founded Museum of the Sea Science, ballet, and international conclaves were introduced to Monaco by Charles's son, Prince Albert I (left). He inherited the early Grimaldis' love for the sea and was fascinated by marine biology, making 30 scientific voy ages. In 1910 he opened the Oceanographic Museum to exhibit his astounding collection of specimens. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, re nowned undersea explorer, now directs the museum, which last year attracted more than 850,000 visitors and scientists (pages 566-67). Prince Albert, noting that Monaco's climate suited subtropical plants, also started the Exotic Garden. Today it ranks with the finest cactus gardens in the world (pages 562-63). The present Prince, Rainier III, has inher ited his ancestors' business sense as well as their flair. He has sparked a fantastic econom ic boom and a 200-million-dollar, five-year expansion project, which includes adding 100 acres of land to Monaco. And he has given his principality a beautiful Princess, the former Grace Kelly of Philadelphia and Hollywood. Wedding Crowds Jam Monaco As the days passed into weeks, we explored the principality on foot. Most charming to us was the antique district of Monaco-Ville, which remains unblemished by 20th-century architecture. Its buildings run together like a jigsaw puzzle (opposite), and the narrow, crooked streets, forbidden to automobiles, lead to secluded garden restaurants crammed into small courtyards. In stark contrast is Monaco-Ville's main square, which bursts with tourist buses and foreign-licensed autos. A good part of the palace's 100-man, whistle-blowing guard the carabiniers-strugglefrantically in the square for control. At a sidewalk cafe I asked the proprietor what caused the tremendous crowds that day. "The big wedding," he replied simply. "What wedding?" Donna inquired.