Although their Principality may be famous for its Grand Prix, generous income tax laws and being the second smallest state in the world, the Princes of Monaco do not have a conventional collection of royal jewels unlike their dynastic counterparts throughout Europe.
The Grimaldi’s may have ruled the principality since 1297, but before the American actress Grace Kelly enlarged the royal jewellery collection with her marriage to Prince Rainier in 1956, the next best thing were the personal jewels of Rainier’s mother, Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois. Charlotte had been the illegitimate daughter of Louis II of Monaco. In order to prevent a succession crisis, Louis adopted Charlotte as his legal heir in 1919.
Despite disapproving of her son’s marriage, she none the less attended the wedding and can be seen standing next to Prince Rainier in the official photos.
At her throat is a magnificent necklace of Sapphires and Diamonds.
This necklace features three large cabochon sapphires, two of which are surrounded by smaller sapphire halos. Like so much else with the Grimaldi jewels, the origins and maker are unknown.
After her death in 1977, Princess Charlotte’s jewellery became part of the ‘Palais Princier de Monaco Collection’.
This Collection encompasses not only jewels but fine art, furniture and Prince Rainier’s famous vintage cars. The jewels are available for use by any member of the Grimaldi family.
Along with her Cartier Diamond and Pearl Drop Tiara & Diamond Fringe Tiara, Princess Caroline has been the main wearer of her grandmother’s pieces. She first wore the Sapphire Suite to the famous Red Cross Ball in 1979 and has continued to do so throughout the years.
From the time of her mother’s death in 1982 to her brother Albert’s marriage in 2011, Caroline was effectively Monaco’s first lady. In 1999, Princess Caroline married Prince Ernst August of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick. This marriage elevated Caroline from a Serene Highness (HSH) to a Royal Highness (HRH) and put her at the heart of the European Royal Society.
Ernst August is head of the House of Hanover which in turn, makes him a Prince of the United Kingdom. The Hanoverians are related to all the major European royal families so Caroline’s presence is required at high profile events, such as the Danish Royal Wedding of 2014.
With the unfortunate illness of Princess Charlene in 2021, Princess Caroline returned to her position as Monaco’s premiere hostess. At the National Day Gala. Caroline once again chose to wear her grandmother’s Sapphires.