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The Fall of Prince Florestan of Monaco

© The Fall of Prince Florestan of Monaco

I am Prince Florestan of Wurtemberg, born in 1850, and consequently now of the mature age of twenty-four. I might call myself “Florestan II.” but I think it better taste for a dethroned prince, especially when he happens to be a republican, to resume the name that is in reality his own.

Although the events which I am about to relate occurred this winter, so little is known in England of the affairs of the Ex-principality of p. 2Monaco, now forming the French commune of that name, that I feel that the details of my story, indeed all but the bare facts on which it is grounded, will be news to English readers. The English Post Office believes that Monaco forms part of Italy, and the general election extinguished the telegrams that arrived from France in February last.

All who follow continental politics are aware that the Prince Charles Honoré, known as Charles III. of Monaco, and also called on account of his infirmity “the blind prince,” was the ruling potentate of Monaco during the last gambling season; that there lived with him his mother, the dowager princess; that he was a widower with one son, Prince Albert, Duc de Valentinois, heir apparent to the throne; that the latter had by his marriage with the Princess Marie of Hamilton, sister to the Duke of Hamilton, one p. 3son who in 1873 was six years old; that all the family lived on M. Blanc the lessee of the gambling tables. But Monaco is shut off from the rest of the world except in the winter months, and few have heard of the calamities which since the end of January have rained upon the ruling family. My cousin, Prince Albert, the “Sailor Prince,” a good fellow of my own age, with no fault but his rash love of uselessly braving the perils of the ocean, had often been warned of the fate that would one day befall him. Once when a boy he had put to sea in his boat when a fearful storm was raging, had been upset just off the point at Monaco, and had been saved only by the gallantry of a sailor of the port who had risked his own life in keeping his sovereign’s son afloat. In October 1873 my unfortunate cousin bought at Plymouth an p. 4English sailing yacht of 450 tons. He had a sailor’s contempt for steam, which he told me was only fit for lubbers, when he came up and stayed with me at Cambridge in November to see the “fours.” He explained to me then that he had got a bargain, that he had bought his yacht for one-third her value, and that he was picking up a capital crew of thirty men. He had no need to buy yachts for a third their value, for he was rich enough and to spare, having enjoyed the large fortune of his mother from the time he came of age. She was a Mérode, and vast forests in Belgium—part of Soignies for instance—belonged to him. His wife had her own fortune of four and a half million francs, bringing her in about seven thousand pounds a year, so he was able to spend all his money on himself. He did not spend it on his dress, for when he came to Cambridge and was introduced p. 5to Dr. Thompson, he neither had a dress suit to dine in at the lodge, nor a black morning coat to put on for hall, where his rough pea-jacket scandalised the “scouts.” He sailed from Plymouth in November, and reached Monaco at the end of that month. In December he made several excursions, in none of which did his father go to sea with him, but on the 26th of January, as ill luck would have it, he tempted my poor uncle to go with him for a three days’ cruise. It came on to blow hard that night, and nothing was ever heard of them again. Great was the excitement at Monaco on the 27th and 28th, but on the 29th the worst was known, as a telegram from Genoa informed the unfortunate old princess—who has all her faculties at the age of eighty-six—that her son and grandson were both numbered with the dead, for one of the boats of the rotten yacht had been fallen p. 6in with by a fishing vessel floating empty in mid sea.

  • 2012
  • Charles Wentworth Dilke
  • English