16 JANUARY 2009

While several Continental heads of state have been demonstrating their fit, sporty side of late, Prince Albert of Monaco has effortlessly put them all in the shade by completing a two-day cross-country ski trip across Antarctica, to raise the principality's flag above the South Pole.

The Monegasque royal, who was battered by wind and fog and braved temperatures of minus 40 on the journey, had joined a month-long expedition to evaluate the impact of climate change on the region. In doing so he becomes the first head of state to visit both poles, having made a two-week trek to the North Pole in 2006.

While Albert was facing the challenges of the snowy wastes in the southern hemisphere, back home in Monaco his sister Princess Stephanie was presiding over the launch of the annual Monte Carlo International Circus festival. Founded in 1974 by their late father Prince Rainier, the annual event is one of the highlights on the principality's social calendar.

And Stephanie, who spent several months touring Europe with a circus troupe while seeing elephant trainer Franco Knie in 2000, was clearly in her element as she teamed up with some of its performers.

Photo: Rex
The Prince braved sub-zero temperatures, wind and fog during his two-day trip across Antarctica to reach the South Pole
Photo: Getty Images
Back in Monaco his younger sister, Stephanie, was in her element as she joined Formula One star David Coulthard at the launch of Monte Carlo's International Circus Festival