April 15, 2015

Charlene Arranges Cultural Exchange & Gives Swimming Lessons to Students

Yesterday, Princess Charlene provided an opportunity for the young South African rugby team – the one that participated in last Saturday’s Sainte Dévote tournament – to spend the day at a local Monégasque school, Collège Charles III, meeting with their Direction of National Education of Youth and Sports. The students and the school gave the South African team a very warm welcome. (Photos courtesy of Facebook.)

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Naturally, the students had a very warm interchange, and their conversations were amicable to say the least.

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It looks like they had a blast getting to know each other, learning from one another’s experiences, and seeing the Monégasque lifestyle through the eyes of those their own age.

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After the meeting, Charlene succumbed to the requests of the South African students: a swim lesson, pretty please!!

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Who are we kidding? Of course she entertained the request, and with gusto! Her whole mission with the Princess Charlene Foundation is to teach children to swim. I imagine she jumps at dives into any opportunity to do that first-hand.

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Charlene wore a cream, sleeveless jacket over a black (and also sleeveless) blouse for the non-swimming portion of the day. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a better photo of her entire outfit, so this is all we saw…except the wetsuit she wore in the pool. She looked radiant and chic the whole day through, though my personal opinion is that she looks her most joyous and free when in the water. It’s great to see her swimming with kids!

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To top off the day, the principal of Collège Charles III put together a request, “from the heart, a testimony of our affection,” by proposing that Charlene become the patron of the school. Of course, this proposal was met by immense cheers from all the students.

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Children, swimming, Monaco, and South Africa all in one event – a heavenly combo for Charlene. It’s so lovely to see her in her element.

Until next time, please feel free to stop over at the new Acorn Étoile site, Kate’s Clothes, written by Jane Barr. It’s a wonderful online encyclopedia of the Duchess of Cambridge’s fashion over the years, the epitome of hyper-organized heaven for Kate fans. Make sure you’ve got time to spare before heading over, because you won’t want to leave!

April 13, 2015

Princess Charlene Hosts Luncheon and Youth Rugby Tournament

Happy Monday, all! Princess Charlene was busy-busy this weekend, entertaining at the Palace and then hosting the Sainte Dévote Tournament at the stadium in Monaco. Both events happened on the same day, so I’m lumping them into one giant post. Especially since the outfit was the same for both, it would seem foolish to separate the two occasions. (Photos courtesy of Facebook.)

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First on the itinerary for this past Saturday was a luncheon that Charlene and Albert held at the Palace for some friends and family. All the guests are involved with tennis in some way, and thusly they all must have made lovely lunching companions.

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Attending the luncheon were Roger Federer and his wife, Mirka. Both are Swiss tennis players who participated in the 2000 Sydeny Olympics along with Charlene. In addition to having their athletic pasts in common, the Federers have two sets of twins. Undoubtedly Charlene has been communicating with them and seeking advice on how to survive!

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And of course, since this lunch took place at the Princely Palace, Charlene’s dog was in attendance too. Adorable!

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In addition to the Federers, Zeljko Franulovic attended the luncheon, along with Baroness Elizabeth-Ann de Massy and her daughter, Melanie-Antoinette. The Baroness is Albert’s first cousin and president of the Monégasque Tennis Federation, while Franulovic is a former Croatian tennis player and the current Monte Carlo Masters tournament director. (Looking at the below photo, who else wants to straighten out the painting on the right and fix the light bulb on the left?)

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Charlene wore a non-black outfit today – hallelujah! She must read the blog! She looked fresh and springy in a casual-chic outfit. She opted for skinnies, a cream-colored blouse, beige booties (love love love) and a very surprising cape. In the first photos, I didn’t realize this was such a long piece, so this photo made me do a double-take. I actually like it very much. Does it classify as a cape with the arm slots? I don’t know. But I’ll call it a cape because I’m lazy. It billows nicely, providing a fashion statement even in an informal setting. I’m loving it! She paired the outfit with a pearl necklace and her pearl studs. Makeup and hair were fresh and natural, as expected. Gorgeous.

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Later in the day, Charlene went down to the stadium to host the Sainte Dévote Tournament, which consisted of 12 youth rugby teams from 9 different countries. The event was organized jointly by the Princess Charlene Foundation and the Monégasque Rugby Federation.

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They even designed a rugby event for toddlers. So. Stinking. Cute.

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I loved this little girl who was oh-so-excited to meet a real princess. I think I’d wear a plastic tiara too.

Photos with the teams:

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Everyone seemed to really enjoy her presence. And can we just stop for a minute to talk about her sunglasses? She has the glamour look down pat. I need those shades, guys.

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All in all, a jam-packed, very successful (and fashionable) day for HSH Princess Charlene. Looked like a gorgeous day to be out in Monaco!

April 11, 2015

Charlene and Albert Celebrate World Sports Day

World Sports Day For Development and Peace came and went earlier this week, but not without an appearance from Charlene and Albert! As active supporters of sports, especially when youth is involved, the Princely couple made a public appearance organized jointly by the Princess Charlene Foundation and the National Direction of Youth and Sports, the Peace and Sport Organization, and the Association of Parents of Students. (Photos courtesy of Facebook.)

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As you all know by now, Charlene and sports go together like chocolate and peanut butter like Charlene and swimming. She absolutely lives for sports, and her Foundation is centered around making them available for youth, with the goal of giving them a head start in life by making physical activity readily available for them.

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So, when the United Nations declared an international World Sports Day For Development and Peace, it was no surprise that Charlene stood in full support. World Sports Day and the Princess Charlene Foundation are a match made in heaven.

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Charlene and Albert met with nearly 400 students in Monaco, who all hold the values of sports very dear. The highest achievers among these athletes were given medals from the Prince and Princess – certainly a moment they will never forget! Medals were given to those who excelled in their involvement and their degree of sportsmanship.

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Of course, what is a royal engagement without MANY group photos?

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At the end, they all held up their white cards – a symbol for the Peace and Sport Organization, which is a Monaco-based initiative that supports the building of tolerance and understanding through participation in sports. Prince Albert is a patron of the organization.

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Fashion wise, though! Charlene opted for black yet again, but this time chose a less formal coat, which I can only describe as more of a windbreaker-style. Maybe it’s the drawstring collar? It’s certainly flattering on her, and as you can see, she paired the coat with black stockings and pumps. Her makeup and hair are gorgeous of course, and I am in love with the pearl stud earrings. The epitome of class, even in a gymnasium.

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She really does look very, very pretty at this appearance, but I’m going to say it: I’m done with all the black. She looks so good in black, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just SO ready for some color. Honestly, I think it’s just been a really long winter here in NY and it’s shaping to be a really wet, dreary spring, so I’m desperate for flowery shades. Pastels, jewel tones, anything other than black, I’ll take it.

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But enough of my gripes about color choices! Bottom line: great cause, great involvement, very uplifting event, and lovely to see the Princely couple supporting something so near and dear to their hearts. Definite win all around!

April 8, 2015

Princess Charlene Honors Late Father-in-Law at Mass

On April 6th of this year, Monaco observed the 10th anniversary of Prince Rainier III’s death. A solemn day to be certain, not only for the Princely family, but for the whole of Monaco. A special Mass was held yesterday at the Cathedral of Monaco in honor of the late ruler, which of course was attended by Prince Albert and Princess Charlene. (Photos courtesy of Facebook.)

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Albert must miss his father terribly, and Charlene must wish she could have known him. I’m not sure that we have any indication that the late Prince ever got to meet his future daughter-in-law, as Albert and Charlene only became a couple after his passing. Charlene has attested that she and Albert were merely friends for the 5 years prior to that appearance, so there certainly is a possibility that she met Prince Rainier, though unlikely. (If anyone knows for sure, please let me know in the comments!)

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Princess Charlene looked lovely at the Mass, wearing an entirely black ensemble to pay her respects. But I’ve got to be honest, folks – I’m not entirely a fan of this outfit, though I will admit that it is a success in the modest-and-mournful department. But this particular coat and mantilla aren’t doing it for me. The coat looks a bit awkward and heavy on her, and the belt distracts me for some reason. The mantilla also looked heavy/thick in the photos, much less becoming than the black mantillas Charlene has worn in the past (and can definitely carry off). Am I just being too picky? I hate when I dislike an ensemble at a time like this, it feels so gauche to talk about clothes at a somber event.

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As you can see, she’s not the only one donning the shade of mourning: Albert’s sisters, Princesses Caroline and Stéphanie, also wore black. Charlene chose to wear significantly more black, though, pairing her ensemble with black tights instead of nude. I personally feel like that choice made her outfit a bit unbalanced, just *too much* black, but I understand her desire to be respectful and play it safe (I also hate black tights in general, so that may contribute to my opinion). And who knows, there might have been some strict protocol for her to follow since she is in such a high position – I’m really not sure, but I have a feeling that this is the case. Charlene is usually much more balanced in her tones, and this one choice struck me as off for her.

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A look inside the Cathedral. It really is beautiful.

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As sad an occasion as it was for the Princely family, I hope it was cathartic for them to mark the anniversary with a Mass as they undoubtedly continue to grieve their father’s passing. It’s never easy, though going through these sorts of motions does tend to help with the process. Prince Rainier was much loved by so many people, particularly his family, and he seemed to know how lucky he was:

The Prince who had everything, and deserved every drop of happiness. May he rest in peace.

April 4, 2015

Princess Charlene Appears on Balcony for Good Friday Procession

Greetings all! As Holy Week comes to a close tomorrow, I’ve been anticipating some sort of appearance from Princess Charlene. My interest was piqued when she missed the Rose Ball – apparently to take care of little Gabriella, who is under the weather with a bug. Her absence from the Ball was like a guarantee that we’d see her at some point during Monaco’s Easter festivities, and luckily, we were right. (Photos courtesy of Facebook.)

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The annual Good Friday Easter Procession occurred on Good Friday (obviously), and to my delight, Princess Charlene and Prince Albert appeared on the balcony to observe.

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The procession took place at the Prince’s Palace, giving Charlene and Albert a stunning view from the balcony. The annual procession has been a tradition for around 800 years, and those participating perform The Procession of the Dead Christ, a traveling enactment of the Stations of the Cross. Additionally, the palace is lit up in purple, which for Catholics signifies the color of the Lenten season.

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On to the fashion! For the occasion, Charlene chose a lovely black coat with large lapels and cuffs, pairing it with a bateau-neck dress underneath and chic black pumps. The shape of the coat was exquisitely flattering, a fitted bodice with a full skirt. I did like the neckline of the coat, though the shine and cut of the lapels didn’t suit my preferences. Charlene carried it off beautifully, though.

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Those heels. I swoon. (And I love the cutesy hand-holding. Adorbs!)

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Her hair and makeup were also quite nice, though not as impeccable as usual. Something was off…but I can’t quite put my finger on it. At first I thought it was the smoky eye that didn’t work quite right, or the lighting was poor, or perhaps it was the lack of jewelry, but none of those seems to be the complete answer. Does she just look a bit tired? It seems to make the most logical sense, given the fact that Gabriella has a cold. Sick infants are no joke, people.

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Overall judgment: I liked it! I’m a little tired with all the black these days, and I’m definitely ready for more color (and jewelry!) in the spring. But this ensemble was appropriate, tailored, chic, balanced and lovely. Definitely a win! I hope you all have a very happy, healthy Easter. Another excuse to binge on chocolate…enjoy it, friends!

March 30, 2015

Privilège du Blanc: Princess Charlene’s Papal Fashion

Two years ago in March, Catholics around the world awaited white smoke to billow out of the Sistine Chapel’s chimney pipe. After days and days of black smoke appearing, signifying that we hadn’t yet received a new Pope, the stakes got pretty high: whoever we ended up with better be worth this wait. And, as it turns out, he was. I could have waited for years just to have Pope Francis in the end.

At Pope Francis’ inauguration Mass, royal watchers were delighted to see a couple familiar faces in the tremendous crowds: Princess Charlene and Prince Albert! Being sovereigns of one of the few Catholic nations in the world, the Princely couple attended the inaugural Mass to pray for the new pontificate.

Charlene selected a black dress and mantilla, per tradition when a woman has an audience with the Pope. I’m quite unclear as to why women are required to dress in mourning around the Pope, but I do understand that part of it has to do with respect and modesty. I still can’t figure out how black achieves those two things, but whatever. Tradition is tradition, and we Catholics are known to stick to tradition like grim death. Which, strangely, brings us back to black. At least Charlene looks good in black!

But here comes the interesting bit! Charlene is one of the very few women in the world who is actually entitled to wear white around the Pope. This right is called Privilège du Blanc/Privilegio del Bianco/Privilege of the White, and it applies to all female Catholic rulers of Catholic nations or the wives of Catholic rulers (it adds up to only a handful of women in the world). It is yet unclear to me why Charlene opted for black at the inaugural Mass – perhaps to detract attention from her sartorial choices so that the focus might be on the matter at hand? Who knows. But she was flanked by a couple other royal ladies who did enjoy their privilège du blanc:

Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg (left) and Queen Paola of Belgium (right) both wore white to the inaugural Mass.

Charlene did draw attention for wearing white some years ago, when she exercised the privilège du blanc during a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

The Vatican actually had to issue a press release explaining her choice of color, as Monaco had previously not been included as one of the countries worthy of the privilège du blanc at that point. Apparently, the Vatican had given Charlene the all-clear to wear white prior to the visit, but they just hadn’t publicized Monaco’s inclusion in the law. The press release calmed any uproar and explained that it was entirely acceptable attire for Charlene’s position as the Catholic sovereign’s wife.

But the privilège du blanc does not open up the floodgates for bells and whistles. Women enjoying this attire must still keep accessories to a minimum, skirts below the knee, and modesty throughout – nothing low cut, tight, or flashy. And, of course, a head covering is still required.

Charlene pulled off the privilège du blanc perfectly: a cream-colored, elegantly embroidered dress, tailored impeccably, paired off with beige pumps and simple accessories, which included a white lace veil. As far as jewelry goes, I don’t think I see any at all, save her wedding band of course, and her makeup was neutral and appropriate. Modest, chic, and respectful all at once. The picture of perfection, as usual.

As we stagger out of the Lenten season, let’s enjoy these photos of Charlene in white in hopes of a lovely upcoming Easter and, with highest hopes, a spring that’s just around the corner. And a happy 2-year anniversary to Pope Francis!

March 23, 2015

Divorce Rumors?

Oh boy, here we go again: divorce rumors. The rumor mill had another explosion this month, when Princess Charlene and the twins started staying in a French villa, as opposed to their home in the Princely Palace. Is there trouble in Monégasque-paradise? Is the princely couple headed to a divorce? No worries, my friends: I am here to answer your questions as best I know how, by unpacking and repacking the details in order to clear out some space for clarity. So, are they in marital trouble? My humble opinion: no. And yes. But mostly, no.

To set the record straight: the rumors, of course, neglected to mention that Albert is also there with Charlene and the kids at that villa, because obviously it’s not as juicy that way. The whole family moved out of the palace temporarily, because of the construction zone it has become (video can be found on the Palais Monaco Facebook Page):

The Princely Palace is undergoing major renovations, which will include the apartments in which the princely family lives. Cue your antennae to the fact that they have 3-month old twin babies in the house, and it makes sense that they’d want to high-tail it out of town. Who wants peacefully sleeping babies to be woken up by the sound of a jackhammer outside their door? It’s probably all Charlene can do not to run outside and make shushing sounds at the construction crew. Also, as Prince Albert is still keeping up his many public engagements, he’s back and forth to Monaco and of course, it looks like Charlene is alone with the twins in France. In a new house. Away from Albert.

Prince Albert gave an interview to People Magazine recently, in which he vehemently quashed these divorce rumors as being unequivocally insane. As usual, an interview with this brand of enthusiasm can never be taken at face value: people are freaking out because he was so staunch in his stance. He’s denying it too much, they say, so the rumors must be true. One must remember, though, that if he was calm and stoic in his stance, people would be saying the same thing. Too stoic – he obviously doesn’t care! Heathen! Blasphemer! *Roll eyes.*

But I don’t doubt that there is a little trouble in paradise, for two specific reasons: the twins. Charlene and Albert have infants in the house. Just one infant is crazy-making, but two? That’s pulling-out-your-hair impossible. So yes, there probably is some trouble, because they’re being driven out of their minds by sleep deprivation and diaper explosions. In Pamela Druckerman’s survival manual book about the calm serenity of French parenting, Bringing Up Bébé, she points to the statistics to prove this point: marital trouble skyrockets with the birth of a child, upping the divorce rate, and the divorce rate is much higher for parents of twins (Druckerman is specifically familiar with each scenario, being the mother of both a singleton and a set of twins). It actually makes sense: taking care of infants can make jumping off a cliff sound like a very, very reasonable idea, and snapping at one’s spouse? That’s just par for the course. I have one friend who put it very succinctly after the birth of her second child: “It’s a good thing I love my husband, because I definitely don’t like him. Not right now.” Yep, sounds about right.

So my take? They’re not en route to a divorce, no. They’re in a marriage, and they just changed up their entire dynamic by bringing babies into the equation. And they’re renovating their home at the same time! They might be stressed out, but guys, I really think their marriage is FINE. It’s normal. We have to give them some room to be stressed out if they have to be, because that’s how it works. And let’s face it, this couple has been under the divorce-microscope ever since their wedding. But since we’re fans here, we’ll look at them a different way: with understanding and compassion. ‘Cause they’re sure not getting it from the press (or those babies, ha)!

Hopefully the renovations will be done soon and the family can be back in their home, and they’ll fall into a comfortable groove with parenting twins. They probably already have. In the meantime, I hope they’re not afraid to put the babies down in their cribs and go scream into a pillow if necessary. No judgment from here!

March 17, 2015

Irish Princesses of Monaco

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all! Assuming that you’re celebrating in a dignified way – such as with green bagels at your local café – I am here to entertain you with some of Princess Charlene’s most memorable Irish-flavored moments in honor of her ancestry. Let’s not forget: Charlene is of Irish descent!

A couple years back, Irish genealogists from Eneclann came to the Princely Palace to give Charlene a Certificate of Irish Heritage and details about her ancestors, the Fagans of Feltrim. They made the special trip to Monaco to supply Charlene with details on her heritage, a family tree which reaches back at least 16 generations. (If you wish to read the entire story on the Fagans of Feltrim, you can find it here. It’s actually quite an interesting read!)

Charlene’s family roots are in Ireland, as were those of her late mother-in-law, Princess Grace. Monaco celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in honor of its princesses, lighting the Princely Palace in shades of green, so we shall do the same here today…only with fashion.

This is what Charlene wore at her first major public engagement in Monaco, the Red Cross Gala in 2006. Yikes. Even Charlene herself looks back on this and cringes, saying she looked like a Christmas tree. Apparently it was only after this appearance that HSH got seriously knowledgeable about fashion. Moving on!

In early October of 2011, Charlene and Albert welcomed Croatian President and his wife. Now THIS is more like it. I love this dress! Something about the material and the tiers makes it very unique and flattering, and the color is not a green you would expect. It’s got an underlying beige tint to it that I love, not unlike the textured color of natural clover. Which brings us to…

You all know I love this one. Let’s be real, green is a great color on Charlene. Her eyes.

This is a green dress. It took me years to accept that this is green and not black, though. I have to struggle very hard to see the green tint to it, but yes, it is actually a green Ralph Lauren gown. Many royal watchers out there absolutely love this, but I will take a bold risk and admit to you that I don’t. At all. Actually, I kind of hate it. The neckline and the sheen of the material just scream Disney sorceress to me. Her hair and makeup, though, are of course impeccable and dreamy.

Yes, yes, I know, this isn’t green. But Charlene wore this grey Akris gown during her tour of Ireland with Prince Albert, so it gets to be on here again. Half because it’s what she wore in Ireland, and half because I just love it so much. Work it!

And of course…

…I can’t leave you without a picture of Monaco’s first Irish princess, Grace. Perfection. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all, and to Monaco in celebration of its striking Irish princesses!

March 14, 2015

Happy Birthday to Princess Charlene’s Hubby, Prince Albert!

Today marks a special day for the Princely family of Monaco: Prince Albert’s 57th birthday!

While we royal watchers are unsure how Albert is celebrating today, we can certainly be sure that this past year has been one of Albert’s finest, at least as far as his family life is concerned: the first birthday with his baby twins. At 3 months old, they are probably getting into the cute phase of babyhood, where smiles are starting to emerge and gurgles are hopefully replacing blood-curdling screams. With that joyful notion in our heads, let’s look back at some of Albert’s most shining moments in his life.

1958: just born! Little baby Albert with his maman, Princess Grace. Sweet sweet sweet.

With his family in 1976. Man, that’s a good looking group. Those haircuts, though. It was definitely the 70s. (As we all silently thank God that decade is over, in the name of all that is holy and attractive.)

Coronation Day! In July of 2005, Prince Albert succeeded to the throne.

Announcing his engagement to Charlene in 2010. Looks like he has to prop her arm up due to that gigantic rock weighing down her hand. Holy carats.

The wedding, duh! And of course…

…those babies.

Just to throw this in for fun, too, this happened last week: the first fully solar-powered airplane took off for a flight around the world, and its control center is based in Monaco. Prince Albert gave the official green light and all systems were GO for the pilots. It’s certainly a pretty cool thing to do to mark your birthday, right?

Wishing a very happy birthday to Prince Albert! (Now go help Charlene with those babies!)

March 5, 2015

Baptism Date Announced for the Royal Twins!

You all know how much I love some baby news – and today I’ve got some for you! As you may have heard, the baptism date for Gabriella and Jacques has been released, at long last. The event will take place on May 10th of this year at the Cathedral of Monaco.

It will be a private ceremony sans press coverage, but I’m assuming we will have some photos of the back-and-forth for the ceremony. While private, the ceremony will still be broadcast in Monaco, and I’m hoping that some lovely soul out there will share it online for the rest of the world, too.

My guess is that each baby will have a godmother and a godfather, presumably only one pair for each child as is customary for a Catholic baptism (as opposed to someone like Prince George, who had a handful of various godparents for his christening). It’s unlikely that we will know who the godparents will be until the ceremony; however, at least one godparent per child would have to be Catholic, so that narrows down the prospects a bit.

When Prince Albert was baptized (above photo!), his godparents were Prince Louis de Polignac and Queen Victoria-Eugénia of Spain. Given that there are two babies to work with here, we will probably see some family and some royalty sprinkled into the mix for the twins, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two non-Catholic godparents, perhaps from Charlene’s side of the family. Some possible choices would be Charlene’s brother, Gareth:

Or either of Albert’s sisters, Princess Caroline and Princess Stéphaine:

Or even Princess Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte Casiraghi:

Obviously, these are just some fun speculations and it will be interesting to see how on (or off) the mark I am here!

The babies will be a precious 5 months old at their baptism, which is actually on the older side for Catholic baptisms (or so I say, with clearly no conviction. I’m Catholic, and my own toddler has yet to be baptized! Procrastination is my weakness, so sue me). It makes sense that they waited a bit, though, for some milder weather and the passing of the Lenten season, which the Princely family is undoubtedly recognizing.

This isn’t anything that will break the internet, but it gets me excited to think that we’ll be seeing the babies again soon. Hopefully the press will get some exterior coverage, and at the very least, we can hope for some lovely portraits of the family to mark the occasion. Best case scenario would be that we get a video of the ceremony, so cross your fingers and toes and I’ll see you all again soon!