Diplomatic Pouch / October 20, 2016
By Larry Luxner
The Principality of Monaco occupies only two square kilometers — about the size of Washington’s National Mall — yet its 37,000 inhabitants are the wealthiest in the world, its monarchy is the world’s oldest, and its ruler, Prince Albert II, is one of the most widely admired royals in Europe.
Last month, the 58-year-old prince and father of twins came to Washington to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations. Some 150 diplomats, dignitaries, journalists and others attended the Sept. 22 gathering at the Kalorama residence of Maguy Maccario Doyle, Monaco’s ambassador to the United States.
“Ten years is a relatively short period of time, but it’s a continuation of the long-standing history the Principality of Monaco has had with the United States,” said the prince. “These relations are very dear to my heart. Our American friends know how much we share the same values and ideals.”
Maccario noted that the two countries exchanged their first consular agents right after the Civil War, and that Prince Albert I — the current prince’s great-great-grandfather — traveled to America as early as 1868.
“A celebrated oceanographer, he was received by President Woodrow Wilson at the White House in October 1913; traveled out west and befriended Col. William Cody in Wyoming, better known as Buffalo Bill,” she said, adding that in 1921, the National Academy of Science gave Prince Albert I its prestigious Agassiz Medal for his famous speech titled “Studies of the Ocean.”
“By a quirk of destiny, he was also received at the White House by President Warren Harding, in whose former home we are all gathered tonight,” she said. “Since then, the friendship between our two nations has continued to blossom. However, diplomatic representation in the United States was only upgraded to an ambassadorial level after France and Monaco renegotiated their 1918 treaty at the beginning of 2002, which reaffirmed the independence and sovereignty of Monaco.”
On Dec. 8, 2006, Monaco’s first ambassador here, Gilles Noghes, presented his credentials to then-President George W. Bush; a week later, the Paris-based U.S. envoy to France and Monaco, Craig Stapleton, presented his letters to Prince Albert II.
“One year after the accession of Prince Albert II to the throne of Monaco, the opening of an Embassy in Washington was his first major accomplishment in the field of foreign relations,” Noghes told The Diplomat in an email from the Michigan town of Harbor Springs, where he moved after his retirement in December 2013. “Personally, after my experience as ambassador to the United Nations in New York, it was for my wife Ellen and me the culmination of our diplomatic career.”
Maccario said that in her three years as ambassador here, the embassy — with the help of her deputy chief of mission, Lorenzo Ravano and his team — has supported the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and its conservation work.
“To further enrich our connections, we have built up and strengthened our network of honorary consuls and vice-consuls across the United States, so well represented here tonight,” she said, paying homage to another organization, the Princess Grace Foundation USA, “which has fostered and supported the dreams of many hundreds of young aspiring American artists in the field of dance, theater and film.”
Grace Kelly, the current monarch’s mother, was one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses when she married Prince Rainier III in 1956. She died in a 1982 auto accident at the age of 52.
“Through my foundation, I’ve been deeply committed to protection of the environment,” he said. “For thousands of years, humanity has considered the seas as an infinite source of wealth. We now know these vast resources are not infinite, and that our activities will have severe repercussions.”
Albert II praised recent action by Congress to spend $5.2 billion on conservation and to extend federal protection to more than 12 million square miles of ocean. He also noted a 2015 initiative by the Embassy of Monaco here to sponsor the 67th Policy Roundtable of the Organization of American States, which focused on climate change and preservation of the world’s oceans — a first in the annals of OAS history.
In turn, Maccario praised her monarch for showing leadership and vision.
“Having traveled extensively on scientific expeditions in remote regions of the globe including both poles, you are a trusted voice and respected advocate on conservation, climate change and its effects on our ocean,” she said. “You have raised and strengthened Monaco’s image on the world state by increasing diplomatic relations across the globe.”
She added: “You may not all know it, but Monagasque nationals are quite a rare breed. In fact there are only about 9,000 of us. So especially tonight I’m so pleased that you, our dear friends, are all a part of our extended Monaco family here in the United States and have joined us to celebrate this important milestone.”