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Albert I of Monaco reigned from 1889 to 1922. He is considered to be the father of modern oceanography.

Nicknamed the “Scholar Prince” or the “Navigator Prince”, Albert I of Monaco was a rigorous scholar, an advocate for the sciences and an environmental awareness pioneer with a passion for the ocean.

From 1870, Prince Albert II’s great-great-grandfather developed an intense interest in ocean exploration. The numerous scientific expeditions undertaken on his schooner L’Hirondelle, and later the Princesse-Alice, which took him all the way to the Arctic, the study of the seabed and ocean currents, and the discovery of new species prompted him to build the Monaco Oceanographic Museum.

At the age of 58, he established the Albert I Foundation in Paris, known as the Oceanographic Institute. A recognised public interest organisation, the foundation’s purpose is to continue the scientific work begun by Prince Albert I. “All of the knowledge which he acquired about the sea enabled him to develop a genuine awareness of the environment, and to recognise the threats facing the ocean.

In 1921, he gave a speech at the National Museum in Washington to members of the US National Academy of Sciences, in which he sounded the alarm regarding the changes and pressures being experienced by the seabed,” explains Robert Calcagno, CEO of the Oceanographic Institute, today.

A humanist with a keen interest in prehistory, Prince Albert I also embarked on archaeological digs. It is to him that we owe the Monaco Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology, as well as a second Prince Albert I Foundation in Paris, whose purpose is “scientific progress on all issues relating to the origins and history of human fossils.”

© J. B. E. Detaille
© Direction de la Communication

A confirmed pacifist, in 1903 Albert I established the Monaco International Institute for Peace, an early forerunner of the United Nations, and contributed to the creation of Interpol. Before the outbreak of World War I, he attempted to intervene between France and Germany in order to maintain the peace.

Events are planned to celebrate the life and work of Prince Albert I from 2019, which marks the centenary of the founding of the Mediterranean Science Commission (CIESM), and 2022, the centenary of his death.

In our world today, where the environment is under threat, where the human values that are key to any policy are too often ignored or are called into question, the messages contained in his pioneering work have, more than ever before, something critical to teach us.

Prince Albert II

 

© Direction de la Communication - Michael Alesi
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