Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois

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Princess Charlotte
Duchess of Valentinois
File:Princess Charlotte of Monaco.jpg
Born (1898-09-30)30 September 1898
Constantine, French Algeria
Died 15 November 1977(1977-11-15) (aged 79)
Paris, France
Burial Chapel of Peace, Monaco
Spouse Count Pierre of Polignac
Issue Princess Antoinette, Baroness of Massy
Rainier III, Prince of Monaco
Full name
Charlotte Louise Juliette Grimaldi
House Grimaldi
Father Louis II, Prince of Monaco
Mother Marie Juliette Louvet

Princess Charlotte of Monaco, Duchess of Valentinois (Charlotte Louise Juliette Grimaldi de Monaco; 30 September 1898 – 15 November 1977), was the daughter of Louis II, Prince of Monaco, and the mother of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco. From 1922 until 1944, she was the Hereditary Princess of Monaco, heir presumptive to the throne.

Birth and adoption

Born Charlotte Louise Juliette Louvet in Constantine, French Algeria, she was the illegitimate daughter of Marie Juliette Louvet, a cabaret singer, and Louis Grimaldi, then Hereditary Prince of Monaco and Duke of Valentinois, son and heir of Monaco's reigning prince, Albert I. Louis had no legitimate children or siblings, so even before he succeeded his father as Prince Louis II the principality sought to forestall a succession crisis, anticipating that its neighbor, the Republic of France, might take it amiss if the throne fell someday to Louis's legal next of kin. That heir was his cousin Wilhelm, 2nd Duke of Urach (1864-1928) who, although born and raised in Monte Carlo as the son of Princess Florestine of Monaco, was a German subject, property owner and patrilineal family member, albeit morganatically, of the ruling kings of Württemberg. On 15 May 1911 a law was passed recognizing Charlotte as Louis's daughter, and declaring her to be a dynastic member of the sovereign family. Though this act was later held to be invalid under the 1882 statutes, an Ordinance of 30 October 1918 was passed to allow her to be adopted into the dynasty instead. Louis adopted Charlotte in Paris on 16 May 1919, thereby entitling her to the surname Grimaldi, while her grandfather bestowed upon her the traditional title of the princedom's heir, Duchess of Valentinois, for life. Charlotte became heir presumptive to the throne as Hereditary Princess when her grandfather died and her father inherited the princely crown in 1922.

Legality of adoption

A shadow of doubt existed over the legality of this adoption. The Monegasque Civil Code (Articles 240 and 243) required that the adopting party be at least of age fifty and the adoptee twenty-one. The 1918 Ordinance changed the age limit to eighteen (Charlotte was twenty at the time) but not the other age limit; Louis was then only 48.


In Monaco civilly on 18 March and religiously on 19 March 1920, Louis arranged Charlotte's marriage to Count Pierre de Polignac of Guidel, Morbihan, Brittany, France who, by the Prince's ordinance, took the surname Grimaldi and became a Prince of Monaco. The couple had two children:

Their marriage was not, however, a happy one; they separated on 20 March 1930 when Charlotte left him to live with her Italian lover, Del Masso. The couple were divorced on 18 February 1933 by ordinance of Prince Louis II.

Late life

On 30 May 1944, the day before her son's 21st birthday and in full agreement with her father, Charlotte renounced and ceded her rights to the throne to her son Rainier, subject to the stipulation that he did not predecease her. From this date she was no longer Hereditary Princess of Monaco, though she retained the titles of Princess of Monaco and Duchess of Valentinois.

Late in life she went to college, obtaining a degree in social work. After her son assumed the throne, Princess Charlotte moved to live at Le Marchais, the Grimaldi estate outside of Paris. Despite the objections of her children who feared for her safety, she turned the estate into a rehabilitation centre for ex-convicts. She lived at the estate with her lover, a noted French former jewel thief named René Girier and nicknamed "René la Canne" (René the Cane).

She died in 1977 in Paris.

Titles and honours

  • 30 Sep 1898 - 18 July 1911: Charlotte Louise Juliette Louvet
  • 18 July 1911 - 16 May 1919: Charlotte Louise Juliette, Mademoiselle de Monaco
  • 16 May 1919 - 20 May 1919: Her Serene Highness Princess Charlotte (Grimaldi) of Monaco
  • 20 May 1919 - 20 June 1922: Her Serene Highness Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois
  • 22 June 1922 - 30 May 1944: Her Serene Highness Princess Charlotte, Hereditary Princess of Monaco, Duchess of Valentinois
  • 2 June 1944 - 9 May 1949: Her Serene Highness Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois
  • 9 May 1949 - 23 Jan 1957: Her Serene Highness Princess Charlotte, Hereditary Princess of Monaco, Duchess of Valentinois
  • 23 Jan 1957 - 15 Nov 1977: Her Serene Highness Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois
National honours
Foreign honours


  • Princess Charlotte owned one of the biggest jewel collections, which was passed on and is still worn by her granddaughter, Princess Caroline of Monaco.
  • Her great granddaughter Charlotte Casiraghi, daughter of Princess Caroline, was named after her.



External links

Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois
Born: 30 September 1898 Died: 15 November 1977
Monegasque royalty
Preceded by
Hereditary Princess of Monaco
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Duchess of Valentinois