Princess Charlotte Fairy Tale

Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois

Princess Charlotte Louise Juliette de Monaco, Duchess of Valentinois

Only in a fairy tale would you find a story like this one. You can’t make this stuff up! Princesses often live lives that make romance novels pale in comparison. Why didn’t we learn any of this part of history in class?

“The daughter of the laundress has succeeded brilliantly in turning out badly.”

Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois (Charlotte Louise Juliette Grimaldi de Monaco; (1898 – 1977), was the daughter of Prince Louis II of Monaco, and the mother of Prince Rainier III. From 1922 until 1944, she was the Hereditary Princess of Monaco, heiress-presumptive to the throne. Princess Charlotte Casiraghi of Monaco is her great granddaughter and namesake.

Born Charlotte Louise Juliette de Monaco in Constantine, French Algeria, she was the illegitimate daughter of Marie Juliette Louvet, a cabaret singer, and Prince Louis II. On the death of Prince Louis II, theretofore without a legitimate heir, the throne of Monaco was due to pass to Wilhelm, the German 2nd Duke of Urach, Louis II’s cousin, a son of Princess Florestine of Monaco; to forestall this event, on 15 May 1911 a law was passed recognizing Charlotte as Louis’s daughter, and making her a member of the sovereign family. Though it was later held to be invalid under the 1882 statutes, an Ordinance of 30 October 1918 allowed her to be adopted.

Pearl Drop tiara

A wedding gift by Cartier from Prince Louis to Princess Charlotte for her wedding

Louis legitimated and adopted Charlotte in Paris on 16 May 1919, bestowing on her the surname Grimaldi and granted her the title Duchess of Valentinois for life; she was thus his heir presumptive as Hereditary Princess from 1922 until 30 May 1944. She was the 1,098th Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa.

A shadow of doubt exists over the legality of this adoption. The Monegasque Civil Code (Articles 240 and 243) required that the adopting party to be at least fifty and the adoptee twenty-one. The 1918 Ordinance changed the age limit to eighteen (Charlotte was twenty at the time) but not the other age limit and Louis was only 48.

Princess Charlotte's family

Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, her father, Prince Pierre, her husband, and her children Antoinette and Rainier

In Monaco, Louis arranged Charlotte’s marriage to Count Pierre de Polignac of Guidel, Morbihan, Brittany, France who, by the Prince’s ordinance, took the surname Grimaldi and became a Prince of Monaco. One of Princess Charlotte’s wedding gifts from her husband was a Cartier diamond and pearl tiara. It is now part of the Monegasque royal jewel collection and has been worn by her grand-daughter, Princess Caroline.

The couple had two children: Antoinette Louise Alberte Suzanne (1920 – 2011) and Rainier III of Monaco (1923 – 2005)

Princess Charlotte of Monaco

‘I am the most unhappy woman in the world,’ Princess Charlotte retorted frankly. ‘I have been given everything but the one thing I desired, that is, to love a man of my own choice.’

Their marriage was not, however, a happy one; they separated on 20 March 1930 when Charlotte left him to live with her Italian lover, Del Masso. The couple were divorced on 18 February 1933 by ordinance of Prince Louis II.

On 30 May 1944, the day before her son’s 21st birthday and in full agreement with her father, Charlotte renounced and ceded her rights to the throne to her son Rainier, subject to the stipulation that he did not predecease her. From this date she was no longer Hereditary Princess of Monaco, though she retained the titles of Princess of Monaco and Duchess of Valentinois.

Late in life she went to college, obtaining a degree in social work. After her son assumed the throne, Princess Charlotte moved to live at Le Marchais, the Grimaldi estate outside of Paris. Despite the objections of her children who feared for her safety, she turned the estate into a rehabilitation centre for ex-convicts. She lived at the estate with her lover, a noted French former jewel thief named René Girier and nicknamed “René la Canne” (René the Cane). In 1977, Princess Charlotte died in Paris, France. From Wikipedia 


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10 Responses to Princess Charlotte Fairy Tale

  1. Pingback: Current Princess Charlotte of Monaco | Charlotte Henley Babb

  2. Stella Scott says:

    Love these stories of strong headed women! Thanks for telling them and great idea to use your name to find these sisters of yours! 🙂

  3. Charlotte, this is a great story! Monaco is such a small country, yet always something interesting going on with the country and its rulers :-). I’ll read more of your posts in future!

  4. Amy says:

    Charlotte, this could be an evening soap opera, only it’s way more interesting because it actually happened. This quote filled me with sadness: ‘I am the most unhappy woman in the world,’ Princess Charlotte retorted frankly. ‘I have been given everything but the one thing I desired, that is, to love a man of my own choice.’

  5. Pingback: BOOK TALK TUESDAY: Guest Interview with Charlotte Henley Babb | Suspense Author Kim Cresswell