Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois aka Charlotte Louise Juliette Grimaldi de Monaco aka Grandma to Albert, Caroline and Stephanie of Monaco was born today in 1898.

Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois

You may yawn, and click away, but it’s a pretty interesting story.

She was a wild card.

She was the bastard daughter of Prince Louis II, the ruler of Monaco.  He was the grand-father of the fat guy who married Grace Kelly.

Her mother was a cabaret singer in French Algiers named Marie Juliette Louvet.  Very little is known about the “cabaret singer”, other than she was pretty, and charmed the Prince.  Some sources say Juliette, as she was called, was a laundress or possibly a dressmaker.  I wasn’t there, so, I really can’t say. 

At any rate, she got knocked UP, the Prince took the heat, and since he was childless at home, and the throne would go to his nasty German cousin, Wilhelm, the Second Duke of Urach, he got the bright idea to “adopt” Charlotte and make her his legitimate heir.  I mean, really, those Germans are just so pushy.  Wilhelm was the son of  some lesser German Duke and his wife, who was a Princess of Monaco named Florestine, which sounds like a mouth wash! 

And quite frankly, who wants a ruler who looks like this?

William, 2nd Duke of Urach aka Mindaugas II of Lithuania

To prevent the German takeover of the Monegasque line, and the place going all kraut and beer, Louis the Deuce passed a law adopting Charlotte, and naming her his heir in Paris in 1918, and, presto-change, her surname was Grimaldi and daddy threw in a title to boot!  She became the Duchess of Valentinios. 

Back in Germany, Willy was all huffy, stomped around, cussed, spat, threatened legal action, drank a few beers, watched the game, and fell asleep.

He wasn’t smart enough to realize that the adoption was probably illegal.  The Monegasque Civil Code – which is nothing like our Constitution – required that the adopting party (Louis) had to be at least fifty and the adoptee (Charlotte) twenty-one.  When Louis realized this, he had a new law made; I’m guessing the civil code makers were pretty bendable, and called it “The 1918 Ordinance”  It  changed the age limit to eighteen (Charlotte was twenty at the time).  And had Willy been really aware, and realized just how pretty Monaco and Monte Carlo are, he would have realized that Louis screwed UP his own law by not changing the age limit of the adopting party – Louis was only 48.

Haste makes waste?

Ta-Da!  She’s a Princess, she’s an heir, wonder what she’s gonna wear?

So, to make a long story even longer interesting, Charlotte married a Count, Pierre de Polignac, who promptly changed his last name to Grimaldi (hers) and promptly got her pregnant.  Twice.  Frist a girl, Antionette and then a boy, Ranier – aka the fat guy who married Grace Kelly.

Charlotte, Pierre, and kiddos!

Charlotte, who never wanted to be the ruler of the little town that Onassis owned, renounced her hard won rights to the throne in favor of Ranier, later Ranier III,  divorced the Count, ran off with her Italian boyfriend, Del Masso, and moved to Paris.

In 1933, Daddy er, Prince Louis, granted her a divorce by decree…I guess it pays to be King, er Prince.

Latin Lovers being what they are, and a dime a dozen in Europe, Charlotte dumped him and went to college, tried out for cheerleading and joined a sorority.

OK, I made that last line UP.

She did however, get a degree in her 70s, which btw, happened in THE 70s. 

Prior to her coed phase, and once Louis moved onto the great throne room in the sky, and Ranier III had taken over, Charlotte moved back to Paris to the family estate at La Marchais and promptly turned it into rehabilitation center for ex-convicts.

Ranier, Grace, Antionette, and the rest of Monaco had a hissy, claiming they feared for her safety.  Totally nonplussed, the Princess hooked UP with a new boyfriend, Rene le Canne (which translates to Rene the Cane in English, and I for one do not need an explanation as to how he got that name), who was a convicted Jewel Thief.

But, alas, the jewels were safe, and since Charlotte didn’t really think Grace was “all that”, she by-passed her daughter-in-law and gave the Jewels to Princess Caroline!

Granny's tiara and Necklace and her German Prince

After all, they are not only realtives, they are kindred spirits, Caroline, had a French husband, and Italian husband, and married a real live German Prince!  And, Ranier III can rest well too, his son married a woman young enough to “bear children”, and if they do decide to opt out of parenting, Caroline has three, 1/2 Italian, 1/2 Monagasque.   

Alas, the kingdom is safe!