28 NOVEMBER 2007

If Princess Stephanie looked like a pro as she handled a parrot at a publicity event in Monte Carlo, then that's because the circus is a long-held passion for Monaco's royal family.

A ringside seat is always reserved for Stephanie at the principality's International Circus Festival, which was founded in 1974 by her much-loved father, Prince Rainier. When he passed away she took over as president of the annual extravaganza, which is held each January and attracts skilled performers from all over the globe.

The free-spirited princess was also briefly married to Portuguese trapeze artist Adans Peres Lopez, and 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 explained. "You have to be open to accept the magic, and have your eyes light up and become a child again."

Photo: ©
Despite the old caveat about working with animals, the princess didn't betray a hint of nervousness as she promoted Monaco's International Circus FestivalPhoto: © AFP
Photo: ©
As president of the annual January gathering, which was founded by her father, Stephanie never misses the event Photo: © AFP