HSH Prince Albert II Arrives in Madeira: Day 16

HSH Prince Albert II commissioned these oceanographic explorations and he will join us at each location we travel to over the next three years. Today Prince Albert arrived in Funchal, Madeira after stopping in Lisbon to meet with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Photo courtesy of Palais Princier

When we began planning the logistics for Monaco Explorations in January, it was a natural choice to come to Macaronesia for the first mission. Most significantly because of the history the Principality of Monaco, particularly Prince Albert I, has with Madeira. Prince Albert I is the great, great grandfather of Prince Albert II. He was the Prince of Monaco from 1889 – 1922.

Prince Albert I was an avid oceanographer that spent as much of his time and resources as possible on research voyages at sea. He traveled to Madeira and the waters of this region multiple times. In fact, he met his second wife, Marie-Alice Heine, Duchess de Richelieu in Madeira.

Monaco Explorations is a continuation of the traditions of the Principality of Monaco and the many oceanographic explorations that have originated there. In addition to the voyages of Prince Albert I, Jacques Cousteau departed the port of Monaco, where he was the director of the Oceanographic Museum, on one of his journeys aboard the Calypso.

As part of this inaugural mission of Monaco Explorations, we have worked together with the regional government and the city of Funchal to pay homage to the history between Monaco and Madeira during our time here. As such, the first stop for Prince Albert today was a ceremony in which the Mayor of Funchal, Paulo Cafôfo, and the Camâra Municipal do Funchal dedicated a beautiful public space next to the sea and very near to the Marine Biology Station of Funchal to Prince Albert I, and the Principality of Monaco in recognition of the many efforts, past and present, to oceanographic research and conservation.

It was a touching ceremony and we were thankful for the crowd that came to show support, some of whom are familiar faces that we have had the chance to know in our time working here.

Some photos courtesy of Axel Bastello, Palais Princier

Immediately after the ceremony, we headed to the Museu História Natural Funchal to celebrate the opening of an exhibit dedicated to the history of Prince Albert I in Madeira. Thomas Fouilleron, Head of Archives at the Palais Princier de Monaco, and Patrick Piguet, Head of Archives at the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco curated the exhibit.

An excerpt from the exhibit brochure:
“At the time still heir to the throne, Prince Albert of Monaco discovers Madeira in 1879, while cruising on his yacht the Hirondelle, and here he meets the Duchess of Richelieu, Marie-Alice Heine. Prince Albert would return to Madeira in 1888 and 1889 to see her again, and on his excursions to the island he begins to make scientific observations and test new oceanographic devices.

In September 1889 the Prince becomes Sovereign and marries Alice the following October. Albert I of Monaco would go on to make six oceanographic cruises in the Madeiran waters from 1897 – 1912. The Prince established many ties with local society in Madeira.

This exhibit is created as a travel notebook based on letters and the private diary of Albert I of Monaco which traces his movements in this archipelago.”

Some photos courtesy of Axel Bastello, Palais Princier