Albert’s Cars & Charlene’s Dress: Imagining a royal life

It is as if the royal couple is really there...

We are not that smitten with celebrity.  Celebrity news makes us yawn – especially if those celebrities are Hollywood royalty – and we have ignored every bona fide celebrity we’ve crossed paths with.  Michael Douglas on a street in Toronto; Judy Dench on an airplane.  So, what were we doing at the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco in December gawking at Princess Charlene’s wedding dress and then Prince Albert’s collection of vintage and modern cars?  We were being tourists.  And like any self-respecting discerning traveler, we were taking advantage of the opportunity to be tourists at a time of year when there were few others about.

We were walking in the old city of Monaco near the palace when on impulse we decided to buy a ticket for the exhibit.  Yes, the Oceanographic Institute seems an odd place for such an exhibit, but it’s one of the few large exhibition spaces in Monaco and it’s close to the palace.

The Armani dress was stunning!

We had been there before, but this time it was quiet – so quiet that we had an opportunity to get up close and personal with the myriad gigantic photos of both the civil and the religious ceremonies that took place last year.  We have never seen a bride who looked sadder, but her dress, designed by Giorgio Armani, was spectacular – in fact a work of art, and as we have discussed before, searching out works of art while traveling is a singular pleasure.

Just to balance the fashion foray, we decided to then visit the Prince’s cars.  We had walked by the door of the exhibit housed in a building above Carrefour (a humongous super-market) in Fontvieille and had never thought that it would be worth visiting.  But we were beginning to run out of things to do so decided to give it a ry.

Princess Grace's little green car

With the place all to ourselves, we had a chance to take a trip through history and imagine what it must have been like in Monaco in the late 19th and early 20th century.  We imagined what it must have been like to see Princess Grace flying along in her little green car; we could practically see Prince Rainier driving the Rolls through the streets of Monte Carlo.  And of course, there was the current Prince Albert’s Mercedes McLaren which sells for about half a million dollars (!)– it made us wonder if he ever takes it out for a spin.  We know we would!

Part of the Rolls collection
The McLaren