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Monaco’s national holiday dates back to 1857. It has been celebrated on 19 November since the reign of Prince Rainier III.

Among several attributes of a modern state introduced during the reign of Prince Charles III (a red-and-white national flag, diplomatic representation abroad) was the creation of a Monegasque national holiday.

In 1857, the young monarch decided that 4 November, his patron saint’s day, would become “Sovereign’s Day”.

 

To begin with, the day on which the national holiday was celebrated changed depending on the first name of the Sovereign Prince, so when Prince Albert I succeeded his father, Charles III, the date was moved to 15 November (Saint Albert’s day). Following the accession of Rainier III, the saint’s day of Saint Rainier d’Arezzo, a Franciscan monk renowned for his humility, then celebrated on 19 November, was chosen and this date has been retained to the present day, in accordance with the wishes of Prince Albert II.

“In 2005, as a tribute to his father, Prince Albert kept the same date, transforming a day celebrating the Prince into a truly national day,” explains Thomas Fouilleron, Director of the Prince’s Palace Archives and Library.

© Direction de la Communication
© Direction de la Communication

The ceremonial part of the “Prince’s Day” festivities traditionally begins with a Te Deum in Saint-Nicolas Cathedral and a thanksgiving mass in which the Prince, the royal family and the Principality’s constitutional bodies and authorities all take part.

This is followed by a military review and parade on Place du Palais, witnessed by the population, who cheer the Sovereign Prince and his family.

Fireworks, concerts and games have, since the beginning, added a lively element to this public festival, which symbolises the coming together of the Monegasque family around its monarch. The festivities conclude with a gala evening held at the Opera.

© Direction de la Communication
© Palais Princier de Monaco

The programme for Monaco’s national holiday is changing in 2020, due to the constraints of the health crisis. To take account of the health rules imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Prince Albert II wished to adapt the celebrations. The festivities on the Place du Palais have been cancelled, and the Te Deum will be celebrated before a limited gathering. Only the military review in the Royal Courtyard will go ahead as planned. “The concert by Cécilia Bartoli and the Musicians of the Prince of Monaco, scheduled to take place at the Grimaldi Forum, will also be restricted to 500 guests,” says a press release from the Prince’s Palace.

Prince Albert II was additionally keen to take advantage of the occasion to honour those individuals and organisations who have been particularly involved in the COVID-19 effort.

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