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Princess Stephanie's slippery pals help give the seal of approval to circus festival

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The sea lion was in breach of royal protocol, but the Monegasque royal didn't seem to mind
 Photo: © Getty Images

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Stephanie got acquainted with the sea-dwelling beasts at a preview for Monte Carlo's annual Circus Festival
 Photo: © Getty Images

13 JANUARY 2010

When it comes to royal protocol, laying your head on the shoulder of a princess isn't exactly in the book.

But judging by the huge smile on her face, Princess Stephanie of Monaco didn't mind. Besides, when you're a sea lion, royal protocol isn't exactly high on your list of priorities.

Stephanie cuddled up to the slippery customers during a preview for Monte Carlo's International Circus Festival.

It's an event which the royal, and her whole family have a strong passion for, as it was founded by her father Prince Rainier in 1974.

After his death she took over as president of the annual extravaganza, which is held each January and attracts skilled performers from all over the globe.

The circus also holds special significance for Stephanie as she was also briefly married to Portuguese trapeze artist Adans Peres Lopez. She also spent several months touring Europe during another romance with Swiss elephant trainer Franco Knie.

"The circus is very special – it's in your blood," she once said. "You have to be open to accept the magic, and have your eyes light up and become a child again."

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