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Prince Albert of Monaco invites HELLO! to explore his royal palace and discover its hidden treasures

Prince Albert on how the discovery reveals his family history


Prince Albert poses with some of the 22-strong team of restorers, painters, engineers, architects and photographers who carried out the extensive work
April 9, 2023
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Here, in an exclusive interview, Prince Albert invites us to explore his palace and see the lovingly restored works, which symbolise the importance of the Grimaldi family and their love for their country.

Some of the most glamorous chapters in Monaco’s history were written in the Prince’s Palace, where the majestic settings of the Courtyard of Honour, Gallery of Hercules and Throne Room have been the stage for famous weddings and lavish receptions. But unknown to its residents, the Princes and Princesses of the Grimaldi dynasty, for centuries these rooms hid a treasure of incomparable value: Italian Renaissance frescoes painted in the 16th century by artists influenced by Michelangelo and Raphael.

The differing tastes of Monaco's successive rulers relegated these works to oblivion, obscured by several layers of paint. But after eight years of meticulous restoration and recovery work carried out by a team of international experts, more than 600 square metres (6,450sq ft) of mythological scenes of exceptional quality have finally been restored to their original splendour...

Prince Albert inspects the restorative work at his royal palace© Michael Alesi
Prince Albert inspects the restorative work at his royal palace

Photography: Michael Alesi, Eric Mathon, Mael Voyer Gadin / Monaco Princely Palace

It's been a long and complex project – rather like one of the 12 labours of Hercules that adorn the Courtyard of Honour. Why did you decide to start it?

"We had to do restoration work on the frescoes in the courtyard because they had begun to suffer from the sea air. After the first discoveries, we decided to extend the investigations to the rest of the palace. It was then that we found more frescoes in the Gallery of Hercules and also in the rooms and all the state apartments of the west wing of the palace. 

"We discovered extraordinary things like the ceiling of the Throne Room, which is one of the last great interior works. We may find ourselves with more surprises. In any case, I'm very happy to have done this work, in an extremely eco-responsible way, with high-quality people and, above all, a team of restorers of the highest order. I would like to pay tribute to them and thank them for their work."

How did your wife Princess Charlene react when you told her about the project and the changes that were ahead?

The project’s director, Christian Gautier, with Charlene, Julia and Albert in the Throne Room, where restoration work has revived the brightness of the Nekyia on its ceiling© Eric Mathon
The project’s director, Christian Gautier, with Charlene, Julia and Albert in the Throne Room, where restoration work has revived the brightness of the Nekyia on its ceiling

Photography: Michael Alesi, Eric Mathon, Mael Voyer Gadin / Monaco Princely Palace

"Princess Charlene was excited and happy that we were able to carry out this work. Last year, she was showing some of her guests the state apartments and really enjoyed showing them the frescoes. It shows how much she cares about the project and her desire to share our family's joy regarding these beautiful works."

Have you told your eight-year-old twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, about the myths and legends that surround them on the walls of the palace?

"It is very important that they know. I haven't told them everything yet, but they know the history not just of our family, but also of the principality and of what these frescoes and these portraits of our ancestors mean."

Photography: Michael Alesi, Eric Mathon, Mael Voyer Gadin / Monaco Princely Palace

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