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1972 Obituary of Consul Henry Leigh Hunt March 25, 2014

Posted by jonathanwarren in Consul of Monaco, Consulate of Monaco, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Consular Corps, Nevada Consular Corps, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Principality of Monaco.
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HENRY LEIGH HUNT

1886-1972

 

Henry Leigh Hunt, Consul of Monaco in Las Vegas, in 1929.

Henry Leigh Hunt, Age 43
Photo: Jonathan Warren Collection

The following is an exerpt from the obituary of Henry Leigh Hunt, Honorary Consul of Monaco in Las Vegas from 1956 to 1963.  It is believed to have been written the end of December, 1972.  

 

Henry Leigh Hunt, 86, who died Thursday at the American Hospital in Neuilly was a descendant of both John Adams and Daniel Boone.  During his long and adventurous life, he showed many of the characteristics of each.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, he became a blood brother of the last monarch of China, hunted for many months with a renegade Assiniboine tribe in Canada, lived on a cotton plantation in the Sudan, captained the Yale polo team, was a mucker in a mine in Colorado, surveyed the Alaskan wilderness, learned gunfighting from the sheriff of El Paso, built a railroad in Brazil, was decorated by the French and American armies for his bravery in Belleau Wood, worked as a banker in Paris and as a real estate operator in Las Vegas.

The love of his life was the beautiful French poetess Louise de Vilmorin.  Although their marriage ended in divorce, they remained close and in 1962 he returned to France to be near her.  He spent his last years at Saint-Lambert-des-Bois near Paris, and it is there, in the graveyard of the little church he loved, that he will be buried at 11 AM Tuesday. He is survived by his sister, Mrs. Bayard Rives, and by his daughters, Jessie Wood, Alexandra Horsey and Helena Baxter, and by his twelve grandchildren.

He dearly loved a good meal, a good drink, a good story.  To the end, he always said, “I have lived a good life.”

Although the above obituary (provided by his descendants) was likely submitted to newspapers in New York and Las Vegas, it does not appear either ever printed it.  Given the exceptionally low profile and spectacular life of Henry Leigh Hunt, some speculate that the papers simply thought it too fantastic to believe.
 

April 19th 1956: Louise de Vilmorin and the Wedding in Monaco April 26, 2013

Posted by bjpayne2003 in Aspen Consular Corps, Consul of Monaco, Consulate of Monaco, Grace Kelly, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Consular Corps, Monaco Royal Wedding, Nevada Consular Corps, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Princess Charlene of Monaco, Princess Grace of Monaco, Principality of Monaco.
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One of the series of stamps commemorating the wedding

April 19th is certainly one of the most auspicious dates in the history of Monaco. For it was on that date in 1956 that the small Principality became the center of the world’s attention and, essentially, a household word. The fairytale romance between Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III became a reality for the world as the two were married in Monaco’s cathedral.

Covering the story for Marie Claire, contemporary author Louise de Vilmorin put it succinctly when she summed up the world’s fascination for a “queen of Hollywood” giving up her throne to become a Princess.  A resident of Las Vegas from 1925 until 1931, Louise de Vilmorin was one of the preeminent French novelists of the day.  Her famed novel “Madame de-” had just a few years prior been adapted into an acclaimed film.  Having been awarded Monaco’s Prince Pierre Literary Award, named in honor of Prince Rainier’s father one year earlier, She was a highly appropriate choice to pen an article on the wedding of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.   Back in the US, Louise’s former husband, globe-trotting Las Vegas land baron Henry Leigh Hunt, had just been confirmed as Honorary Consul of The Principality of Monaco in Las Vegas (the very post held by Consul Warren) in January of 1956.

In honor of this anniversary, a look back at some of the photos from the event and a new summarized translation of Louise de Vilmorin’s report, published under the title of “I Was There at the Wedding” has been prepared below.

The famed first images of HSH Princess Grace of Monaco during the religious ceremony

Princes are always effective, but when they are on a throne, they are very effective. Me, for the moment, I’m sitting on a chair in a room of the house called “Santo Sospir” in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. The walls of this room are blank pages on which Jean Cocteau would easily trace drawings. Just now, when I rise, my seat will be empty. This is what differentiates us from reigning princes and kings who can swim, drive or fly, while still on the throne. They are at the same time mobile and immobile.

Privileges intrigue the imagination more than the gifts and we recognize the approval such privileges can win. A young girl marries an artist without becoming an artist, she marries a prince, she becomes a princess. Fairy tales show the possible as you know, you who read newspapers.

Newspapers in recent weeks, are quivering to the point that it is a penalty to read them. You sit, you hold them, mail them, but tremble so hard that you shake like the train.

Marie Clair was first and foremost a fashion magazine and so Grace’s outfits received a fair bit of attention. From left, sailing aboard the USS Constitution, arriving in Monaco, at an awards gala and a dinner party at the palace

Tell me, sir, what is the wind that shakes the leaves?

Well, it is the wind of Monte Carlo…yes, be sure today that it is the wind of Monte Carlo that ruffles the leaves of the world.

The onshore wind, the wind of love on a rock, a storm bringing with it the creation of a household. It has been anticipated by automobiles, diamonds and lace. Among designers, by small hands and itchy fingers: the academicians and their embroidery, the gentlemen of the order of Malta held their red paint and put the cross around their neck, high and noble, ladies, billionaires and snobs feel a reason to dress up and be cakes. They control the pistachio, the mint, the raspberry and they braid their hair with violets of Toulouse, pure sugar. Their shoes are coffee éclairs and their handbags are melting candy. Their husbands, themselves, dress in licorice, whipped cream, and all this is due to the movement of a star. Astronomers do not sleep and the prophets of metro announce the lovely scene. In short, we prepare, we watch, we listen.

At the small palace reception just after the civil ceremony

What a story! Prince Rainier III of Monaco loves a queen of Hollywood and it is love. The event is important. Will she resign? Will she give up her throne? Despise her supremacy, ending her reign and becoming a princess when she was queen? Well, yes she will. She heard a voice, and presto! Her Majesty Grace Kelly was transformed to a Serene Highness. She has left scores of Americans, she waved and followed the voice of the heart. She is a blonde, Grace, slender and graceful, accompanied by a black poodle, surrounded by her parents and sixty courtiers. She navigates a crossing of the Ocean, and tackles the shores of the Principality of Monaco. Suddenly, there was cannon fire. The echo was heard in a Timbuktu, leaves agitated me more and more, so I boarded the train.In the corridors, it is the same as in the dining car, travelers are gazing and talking: You’re to be at the wedding? I’m going. No, I am not going, I am going down to Toulon. If you looked at my feet, you would see that I am going … The foot does not disappoint. I have bought new shoes.

 The city of Monte Carlo is all decorated with flags of Monaco – half red, half white and American flags. The hotels are crowded. It’s raining softly and there are no taxis. All vehicles are requisitioned or locked up. Some carriages, drawn by two horses in macramé bonnets, roll in the city and the Americans walk while breathing the air of another time. It is perhaps by inventing the past they believe they are transported to the time of Grand Dukes.

 One hundred elected officials avoid, or embrace, or nudge in the lobby of the Hotel de Paris. This is the domain of winks and what will be said? We talk about the civil marriage which took place in the morning. It is said that Grace Kelly was not smiling and that the prince was silent, we are awaiting the gala performance at the Opera tonight. Grace, who will be entitled to be called Serene Highness after the religious marriage will be throughout the day of 18th be known as “Madame Grimaldi”, and it is Madame Grimaldi that will appear in the princely box lovely, but fleeting.  All eyes were fixed on the little face of tomorrow’s princess, on her sparkling dress and on her blond hair crowned with a diadem of rubies and diamonds, and the serious face of Prince Rainier.

And then, barely have we seen them as they disappear into a trap.  A moment of anguish …  What has happened?

 Nothing serious, do not worry. Just one thing: they sat and the border of white lilacs and roses decorating the front of their box is so high that the mask the performance altogether. Phew!  I was scared. In the box on the right, I see Prince Pierre, father of the groom: he is very pale, and left in the box, I saw two more tiaras worn by Princess Charlotte and Princess Antoinette, the mother and sister of Prince Rainier. I guess too there are many Kelly family members, but I do not know, I cannot recognize them…

 The room is very beautiful and bears the weight of tradition, we feel that most of the people who are here say, “Since I’m here, I’m surely someone”. This is a reassuring thought. As for the theater stage, it will be from one end to the other a show enchanted by Margot Fonteyn, Yvette Chauviré and Mademoiselle Toumanova.

Prince Rainier III with the new Princess Grace at the reception following the religious ceremony

Prince Rainier III reigns, you know, over vast horizons. However, in recent days, he is very worried. Through the windows of his palace, at the top of the Rock, he sees from one side the gray sea, and on the other side, umbrellas. This is not a sign of good weather and, like us, he wants a blue sky. What to do? Father Tucker, who apparently knows more than a good thing, advised him to offer a dozen candles to Saint Clare … As was said, so it was done: Blue skies, please Holy Lady … The sky lit up and the weather was beautiful when they came to wake me the morning of the wedding.

I slept little: I was haggard and had puffy eyelids. We tend to laugh, but this is not funny. We are hiding under a lovely coat a white satin dress and large white straw hat. We must occupy promptly at 9:30am the seats which have been reserved in the cathedral. On the square in front of the church, there is a triple row of soldiers: French, American and English. The music is French and there is a crowd of gentlemen in licorice suits, crossed with grand ribbons encrusted with sparkling stones, and a crowd of ladies, most of whom, as we know, have made their clothes from pastry. Those who are afraid of melting ice.  That’s understandable, and they will quickly take shelter in the sacred cool, while those in plum pudding cake and have the advantage of being able to relax on the porch. Jean Cocteau watched it all from the top of a balcony overlooking the square. It is actually quite a story. It is claimed he is offended, but this is not true. He had composed in honor of Rainier an ode that the prince was to have heard the previous evening at the Opera. Confusion would hinder this project but without hurting the author of the poem.

A taxi driver said to me, “Prince Rainier is shy and usually, quite reflective. Then he must say: all this is too much for me. He would have surely preferred to marry on his boat in the open sea or the night, in a little mountain Chapel, or with only his friends around. Do you think all these people are interested in him?  No, of course not. But then, he does not like this ‘fluff.’”

The “fluff”, it is there in the Cathedral.  We look, comparing the places, but the music silenced whispers. The preparation of the choir.  Suddenly, after a silence, the music resumes, intensifies and rises, and the bride appears in the arms of her father. They move very slowly, they walk a walk not unknown, yet one would say that they are preserved in emotion. Grace wears a real dress, that is, a dress without a date, a dress that is not fashionable, but is timeless; and the frail bride with her pallor of ivory and white tulle, and lace, the altar is illuminated with flowers, as to an aurora borealis of Enchantment. There’s no procession. The Princess, the witnesses, as the parents of Grace, one by one, followed by their honor service. Preceded by his Chamberlain, accompanied by his bodyguards, Prince Rainier, in a grand uniform, appears last. There the downcast eyes, he almost seems to suffer and we feel a sense of what awaits him, solitary and kneeling in the distant light of the Church.

The iconic image of HSH Princess Grace in her wedding gown

The Church: the moment of the question and the response, the vows, the oath. The spirit changes the mood. It is emotion; you can feel the heart beat and all thoughts are more than a bunch of fervor. The vision of love makes the heart serious. I know and, while the couple exchanged their rings, they receive Holy Communion, nostalgia showed me happiness and I begged God to protect love.

Need I say more? I talked more. I laugh more. I became aware of all the efforts made for the intimate event that became a great party and should remain a beautiful memory deserving of a halo. A respect came to me and I felt remorse.

When the couple left the church, I loved when they showed themselves to the crowd of their little people. I was happy to hear them cheering.

After the wedding, the guests went into the courtyard where two huge buffets were prepared, but no one dared to approach:

– Where are the newlyweds …? Where are the newlyweds?… they said.

– Allow them time to breathe..

“The time to breathe” appeared along with everyone and it was just the time that I envied. What time!  What breath!  What happiness! And it really is in happiness that they both appeared atop a white marble staircase. They finally smiled down the steps. Smiles stopped at a sugar cake two meters tall and weighing ninety pounds, placed in the shade of the stairs.  A cake monument stood in a niche of rare plants, orchids and other exotic wedding flowers, while doves cooed in a wicker cage.

The doves flew.  The lovers, too, are gone. They sail their happiness between sky and water, and when they return to Monaco, the Prince will reign over a state that is already a state of Grace.

The ceremonies over, the newlyweds board the Deo Juvante II for their honeymoon

Notes From the Archivist: A Historic Weekend in Monaco February 20, 2013

Posted by bjpayne2003 in Consul of Monaco, Consulate of Monaco, Grace Kelly, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Consular Corps, Monaco Royal Wedding, Monegasques in the USA, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Princess Grace of Monaco, Principality of Monaco.
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A rare silver 1/6 écu of Honoré II dated 1658

With wide ranging options for first-class entertainment, dining and shopping it sometimes can be easy to forget the historical side of a visit to Monaco. While the most visible link to the past, the Prince’s Palace, is a must-stop on any itinerary, this site along with a few landmarks on le Rocher may be all the casual visitor gets to see of Monaco’s history. If your historical interest runs a bit deeper, you may be curious to hear a bit about a less well known but very tangible link to Monaco’s past – the history of the Principality’s early coinage.You may not suspect a nation of Monaco’s size to have such a numismatic legacy, however Monaco’s early Princes were eager to assert the independence of the Principality and a key part of this was the right to mint their own coinage. Not coincidentally, the first Prince, Honoré II, was also the first to begin minting in Monaco in 1640. With just one significant break in the period from 1735-1837, Monaco has continued to issue a varied and rich series of coins into the modern era.

A 1674 écu of Louis I bearing the arms of the Principality

For anyone intrigued by this part of Monaco’s history, a weekend in December 2012 provided something of a treat. Three major events over two days allowed a rare glimpse at Monaco’s past. The centerpiece of the schedule was a very special exhibition celebrating the 500th anniversary of the wide recognition of Monaco’s independence. Featuring items loaned from the Palace Archives as well as several European museums, visitors were granted the opportunity to view items that are rarely, if ever, on view. These included correspondence of Monaco’s early rulers (the title Prince first being used in 1612), as well as the 1512 decree from France’s Louis XII recognizing the independence and sovereignty of Monaco.

The exhibition was hosted at the Musée des Monnaies et Timbres (The Coin and Stamp Museum), a small but exquisite museum tucked away in Monaco’s Fontvieille district. Though the exhibition provided an added bonus, a visit here anytime is fascinating; the Princely Collection housed here is unrivaled in the world.

On Saturday, December 1st, the well known Monaco firm of Éditions V. Gadoury (www.gadoury.com) organized a superb auction of rare coins from ancient to modern times. A highlight of the sale was a collection of rare early Monaco pieces, one of the largest such collections to come to auction in a century. From the earliest coins of the Honoré II through the centuries to the likeness of the iconic Princess Grace, the collection was a history of the Principality in miniature. All of Monaco’s early coinage is scarce and most of the denominations and years are extremely rare; the auction featured several coins of which 2 or fewer examples were known to exist.

A 1966 piece celebrating the 10th wedding anniversary of TSH Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace

Rounding out the events was the annual Monaco coin fair on Sunday, December 2nd. Dealers from around Europe saw brisk sales in all areas of coin collecting. Additionally, postcards, early photographs and paper items were to be found. Happily, this event is now on annual basis and will be held again in 2013 in conjunction with another auction by Éditions V. Gadoury. The auction is scheduled for Saturday, November 30th with the coin fair to follow on Sunday, December 1st.

Ambassador Noghès and Consuls of Monaco hosted by Siegfried and Roy in Las Vegas June 24, 2012

Posted by jonathanwarren in Consul of Monaco, Consulate of Monaco, Grace Kelly, Las Vegas, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Princess Grace of Monaco, Principality of Monaco.
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Rare Tour by the ‘Masters of the Impossible’ themselves takes Monaco diplomats behind the scenes in rare animal habitat.

Forty-six year friendship of the performers with the Principality evidenced by hospitality during historic Las Vegas visit of Monaco officials

Siegfried and Roy circa 1966

Siegfried and Roy with “Chico,” circa 1966

Long before they ever came to Las Vegas, Siegfried and Roy made a Royal Command Performance for HSH Princess Grace of Monaco at the 1966 Red Cross Ball (Gala de Roi) at the Sporting House in Monte Carlo.  During the performance, Chico, the Cheetah who starred with the duo, ran off stage and headed for the kitchen.  The event was a big hit and garnered much press.  Some say it was the big break for the magical duo.  Two decades later, with unprecedented Las Vegas success accredited their show, they would return to the Principality and serve as judges for the Grand Prix of Magic in Monte Carlo.

Friends of the Monaco Royal Family for a generation, Siegfried and Roy were the consummate hosts of the official representatives of the Principality during the first meeting of the Monaco US Consular Corps in Las Vegas.  The group held its first meeting outside Washington, D.C, at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas on June 14.  The meeting also marked the first official visit of the Ambassador of Monaco to Las Vegas.

Siegfried and Roy with Crown Prince Albert of Monaco and HSH Prince Rainer III

The Consulate of Monaco in Las Vegas, with the help of a team of volunteers including Las Vegan Steve Schorr, arranged for H.E. Gilles Noghès, Ambassador of Monaco to the USA and Canda, and consuls from 6 districts in addition to the Las Vegas consulate, to meet with Siegfried and Roy and tour their Dolphin Habitat, Secret Garden and the behind-the-scenes lairs of the their legendary white tigers, white lions and other great cats.

The group was astounded at the high quality of life, health and beauty of the great cats.  Touring the garden with the narration that only Siegfried and Roy could give was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not lost on the audience of Monaco officials.

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A Portrait of Friendships: Sinatra and the Royals August 16, 2011

Posted by jonathanwarren in Consul of Monaco, Grace Kelly, Las Vegas, Monegasques in the USA, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Princess Grace of Monaco.
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Alejo Vidal-Quadras and Princess Grace

Alejo Vidal-Quadras and Princess Grace

Alejo Vidal-Quadras was one of the great portrait painters of the 20th century.  His subjects included royals, celebrities and great personalities of his time.  In the 1950’s he painted three portraits of Princess Grace of Monaco, one of which included young Princess Caroline and Prince Albert.

“I consider Grace Kelly as one of the purest faces I have ever studied.” 
– Alejo Vidal-Quadras

A favorite of many is Vidal-Quadras’s triple portrait of Princess Grace.  One little-known fact about this sketch is that it was actually done at the home of Frank Sinatra, during a visit there by the Prince and Princess of Monaco.Triple Grace was sketched at Sinatra's home

“A few years later, she asked me to draw a triple portrait of her as a Christmas present to the Sovereign Prince.  Whilst looking for a date to do the drawing we realized that we would be together, at the same time, in Los Angeles.  The Prince and Princess were going to spend a few days in Palm Springs at Frank Sinatra’s.  I myself had an exhibition in Beverly Hills.  Hence it was decided that I would do the triple drawing at Frank Sinatra’s home.

Princess Grace with young Princess Caroline and Prince Albert“On another occasion, in Monaco, to facilitate the settings for little Prince Albert and Princess Caroline, when I was painting their portraits, Princess Grace read them fairy stories.  We were in the nursery.  To listen to her was a real pleasure, she used her acting talents and the children were fascinated.  One of the stories was about Christmas, and the little Princess Caroline, aged four, suddenly interrupted her mother, “Mummy, tell me please, does Father Christmas live near my Palace?”  – alejovidalquadras.com

We did it our way: Lyrical Connections of Monte Carlo and Las Vegas August 14, 2011

Posted by jonathanwarren in Grace Kelly, Las Vegas, Monaco Royal Wedding, Monegasques in the USA, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Princess Grace of Monaco.
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Claude Francoise on a Monaco yacht, 1966

Claude Francoise on a Monaco yacht, 1966

Claude “Cloclo” François spent his childhood in Egypt, before moving with his parents to Monte Carlo when he was 17, in 1956.  Having had natural talent and musical training all his youth,  François was soon to start a meteoric rise to stardom.

Frank Sinatra at the Monaco Train Station 1958

Sinatra in Monaco, 1958

1956 was a bustling time in the Principality.  Prince Rainier III and Academy Award-winning actress Grace Kelly had just been married.  The wedding celebrations took place to the flashes of hundreds of press photographers.  The event was covered in spectacular style by the acclaimed French poet and author Louise de Vilmorin, a former resident of Las Vegas, on assignment for Marie Claire Magazine and invited by the Royal couple.

Stars of Hollywood and Las Vegas were often seen in Monte Carlo.  Frank Sinatra, then a part-owner of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, had co-starred with Grace Kelly in the movie “High Society” which was released in 1956.  He frequented Monaco with friends, as did many other entertainers.

Claude François started his musical career in this energized environment, in the orchestras of Monaco and the French Riviera, and quickly moved into the pop music scene.  Often called the ‘French Elvis’, he had great success before opening his own stage production and record company, in 1967 at the age of 27, in Paris.

It was then that François and Jacques Revaux wrote a song in French called Comme d’habitude (“As Usual”), which became a huge hit in Francophile countries.

Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka re-wrote the lyrics in English for an American audience in 1970, as the song “My Way”.  It became the identifying song of both Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra during their long-standing residencies in Las Vegas.

Elvis Presley had a long-running show at the Las Vegas Hilton until he died in Las Vegas in 1977.  Claude François died of an accidental electrocution seven months later.  Only Frank Sinatra continued to sing the song.

Anka’s rendition, written with Sinatra in mind, came to define the man.  His star-studded 80th birthday party was titled: “Sinatra: 80 Years My Way.”  On the night of his death at the age of 82 in 1998, the lights on the Las Vegas Strip went dark for ten minutes, in tribute.

Claude Francois and the Claudettes 1966

Claude Francois and the Claudettes, 1966

Claude François had become known as the “King of Kitsch” in some circles for his flashy shows in his later career.   His showmanship and style now has him making something of a posthumous comeback.  A film of his life is soon to be released, partially filmed in the Principality of Monaco.

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