Does Monaco’s royal family have a ‘legitimacy’ issue?

Reports of Charlotte Casiraghi’s possible pregnancy set tongues wagging

Charlotte Casiraghi, the 26-year-old daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco, appears to be carrying on a royal family tradition—of becoming pregnant before the wedding. Reports say that Charlotte, fourth in line to the throne, is having a baby with her 41-year-old boyfriend. The rumours started this weekend when she was seen at several equestrian events, not as a participant, but as a trophy presenter. And one wearing suddenly wearing loose clothes and displaying what appears to be a baby bump on her normally washboard-flat stomach. Apparently she hasn’t competed since early April.

If the pregnancy is confirmed, it won’t shock conservative Monaco. As the Unofficially Royal site states, “Of the nine grandchildren of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace, only two (the two youngest Casiraghi children) were conceived during a marriage.” And Charlotte’s older brother, Andrea, number two in line to the throne behind mom Caroline, just had a baby with his heiress fiancée, Tatiana Santo Domingo, who was with Charlotte in Paris.

Photoset: royalwatcher: Charlotte Casiraghi and Tatiana Santo Domingo at the Eugenie Niarchos First Jewelry…

If this sounds tremendously old-fashioned in a world in which more and more couples aren’t getting married, well, royal families are, by their nature, conservative. They have to be seen as legitimate to claim the throne. And that means marriage, or retroactive legitimization if all else fails (see below). Just look at the scandal that gripped Luxembourg when Prince Louis, then 19, got his girlfriend pregnant. It’s doubly important in Monaco because the head of the family, Uncle Albert II, the present head of Monaco, has no children—well, no legitimate children. As I wrote in 2011:

Albert, a lifelong bachelor, confessed, mere weeks after his father died in 2005 and he’d assumed power, that he’d fathered a boy, Alexandre, then three, with a Togolese flight attendant. The revelation at least put to rest the rumours that he was gay, which had dogged him for years. He hinted on French TV that there were other progeny. “I know there are other people who are in more or less the same situation. We will give them an answer at the appropriate time.” Then, in 2006, he acknowledged his 14-year-old daughter, Jazmin Grace, the result of a vacation fling in 1991 with a married Californian, Tamara Rotolo. Neither illegitimate child can inherit the throne.

If his wife, Charlene, doesn’t have a child—and given her often-unhappy visage when out with Albert, there’s not a lot of hope of that happening—then the future of Monaco’s royal family will be in the hands of Caroline and her Casiraghi children. So Andrea’s (and perhaps Charlotte’s) out-of-wedlock progeny will have to be legitimized if the royal line is to survive.

It’s happened before. As Royal Foibles explains:

In 1922 the Grimaldis faced a succession crisis far more dire than what they’re confronting now. At that time Monaco’s ruling family consisted of only two members: Prince Albert l and his aging, terminal bachelor son, Hereditary Prince Louis. Per Monaco’s 1912 treaty with France, the principality would lose its sovereignty and become part of the French Republic if all legitimate members of the ruling family were to die out. Although the existence of Prince Albert’s German cousin, Wilhelm, 2nd Duke of Urach, would’ve prevented this from happening, Albert preferred that the Monegasque throne remain in his immediate family. This obligated him to allow Louis to formally adopt and legitimate his only acknowledged bastard: a daughter named Charlotte Louvet.

So good luck Charlotte! Hopefully you’ll escape the other Grimaldi tradition of multiple marriages, most of them deeply unhappy.