With their twins set to turn nine in a matter of weeks, Monaco’s Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene have given a candid insight into their roles as parents, sharing their hopes and concerns for the young Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella.
Ahead of the National Day of Monaco, or Fête Nationale, which took place over the weekend, Prince Albert II and his wife Princess Charlene granted a rare joint interview to the Monaco Matin, a local French language newspaper.
Although the interview covered a variety of topics, from the celebrations planned for 19th November to the year-long commemorations of Prince Albert’s late father, Prince Rainier III, there was one theme central to the open and unreserved exchange: the children that the Princely couple share.
Hereditary Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, who were born in the Principality on 10th December 2014, will soon turn nine. They have grown up here, they go to school not far from the Palais Princier de Monaco, and they are often pictured out and about enjoying the sights of the Principality.
Most importantly, however, the young siblings will one day become the figureheads of this small but important nation.
A defining role to play
Hereditary Prince Jacques is first in line to the throne, but both children will be expected to play a role in the day-to-day runnings of the Principality as they grow up, and the siblings have already made numerous appearances alongside their famous parents at official events.
Prince Albert and Princess Charlene are, however, refreshingly aware of the importance of a real childhood.
“There is no precise age at which they will start [performing official duties],” Prince Albert told the reporters. “We will wait and make that decision when the right opportunity presents itself. We are very careful to move slowly towards these obligations, and to not overexpose them when they are too young. When they are older, of course, they will become more involved in different activities, events, ceremonies… It’s important to do things gradually, without forcing [them].”
“They are already aware of what is happening in the world”
As the son of two famous parents – Prince Rainier III and Hollywood actress Grace Kelly – Prince Albert has the advantage of having lived through a similar experience to his children, albeit without the pressure of today’s overbearing paparazzi, social media and round-the-clock news coverage of current affairs at home and abroad.
“They are already somewhat aware of what is happening in the world,” said Prince Albert. “Sometimes they see the news, they talk about [current affairs] at school. But they’re only nine years old, I don’t think they understand everything.”
“Everyone dreams of peace on this planet, but unfortunately, we are living in a time when that is just not the case,” added Princess Charlene. “It is very worrying, especially when you are a parent. Our children have a unique position. They embody the future of the Principality and we have to explain to them why we have constant protection, which allows us to feel safe wherever we are.”
Travel is education
Although most of their life has been spent in the protected enclave of Monaco, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella are nevertheless aware and in touch with the South African roots of their mother, according to their parents.
“They are Monegasque before anything else,” insisted Princess Charlene. “We have had the opportunity to take them to South Africa many times [and] they have enormously appreciated these trips. To show them the places in which I grew up, each visit has meant a lot to me, and they often tell me that they would like to go back to see the animals, to visit the farms. We have also taken them to different countries around the world. It’s a privilege to be able to do that.”
“I don’t think that many children their age will have visited as many countries as them,” added Prince Albert, “but it is all part of their education. At the end of this year, we will travel to Antarctica on a voyage organised by the Musée Océanographique and Robert Calcagno. It will be an incredible adventure for us all, but particularly for the twins.”
The environment, a family commitment
“From a very young age, we have taught them about the importance of conservation and the preservation of nature. We have gardened together, they have learnt to dive at Pierre Frolla’s school in order to understand the seabed and, every year, I have taken them along to World Clean Day to help clean the streets of the Principality,” said Prince Albert, demonstrating his keenness to impart his own dedication to the environmental cause on his children.
The upcoming trip to Antarctica will be a huge moment in the lives of the twins, and will almost certainly leave a lasting impression on their young minds. It will be an opportunity to see for themselves the impacts climate change is having on the most southern continent as well as learn more about the work being done in the name of Monaco to protect the world’s poles.
But above all, after already dipping their toes into the official roles they will play in the future here in Monaco, this imminent adventure will show them their potential outside of the borders of the Principality and give them a taste of the challenges and experiences that lie ahead.
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Main photo credit: Palais Princier de Monaco