|In 1793, in the wake of the French Revolution, Monaco was annexed by its northern neighbour, and placed under the protectorate of the king of Sardinia. Its independence was reinstated in 1861 with a treaty which forced the Grimaldis to hand over the towns of Menton and Roquebrune to the French. This meant losing 80 per cent of their territory, in exchange for guaranteed independence and the end of centuries of uncertainty.
The principality's reputation as a millionaire's Utopia dates back to the 1860s, when Prince Charles II acceded to the throne and set about rejuvenating the country's economy. With gambling illegal in both France and Italy, the prince decided to transform Monte Carlo into a celebration of gaming. The small coastal city has been a hive of roulette wheels and blackjack tables ever since.
But it was Monaco's most cherished figure, Princess Grace, who put Monte Carlo on the celebrity map. Her 1956 engagement to Prince Rainer provoked such a hubbub MGM decided to film the wedding and release it as a movie. While, insiders say Grace was unhappy about the event being filmed, the "wedding of the century" was a massive publicity boon for the tiny Mediterranean enclave and boosted its profile enormously.
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