Prince Albert of Monaco visits TCD after donating €1m

Donation follows his mother, Grace Kelly’s, love of Ireland and the university

Prince Albert II of Monaco visits Trinity College Dublin with his children Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques after donating €1 million towards the restoration of the Old Library. Video: Ronan McGreevy

 

Sixty years after his parents’ first visit and a decade after his own first State visit, Prince Albert II of Monaco returned to his ancestral homeland to visit Trinity College Dublin (TCD).

It was another first for one of continental Europe’s best-known royal families as he brought his six-year-old twins the Crown Prince Jacques and his sister Princess Gabriella on their first visit to Ireland.

The pair, blonde like their mother Princess Charlene, wore matching face masks in the Irish tricolour and danced around the cobbled stones of the university.

Their father came to Trinity to unveil two friezes in the university. One, in the dining hall, is in the name of himself and his wife Prince Charlene. The other, in the Old Library of the university, is in response to his donation of €1 million towards the €90 million restoration of the library which will see the removal into storage of all 750,000 of its books.

The restoration of the library, built in 1732, will be one of the largest and most costly heritage projects in the history of the State. Trinity is hoping to raise €20 million through wealthy benefactors such as the prince.

Prince Albert’s Irish heritage is through his mother, Grace Kelly, who was the granddaughter of John Peter Kelly, originally from Drimurla, Co Mayo.

Before her death in a car crash in 1982, Princess Grace was a regular visitor to Ireland.

Historical links

In his speech in the Old Library, Prince Albert said it gave him great pleasure that through his donation he followed in the footsteps of his mother in her affection for Ireland as a whole, but also Trinity College.

“This gesture reaffirms the historical links between the principality of Monaco and Ireland,” he said.

Prince Albert’s wife, Princess Charlene, who was born in South Africa, also has Irish ancestry and a link to Trinity College. Her paternal line is descended from the Fagans of Feltrim, a successful family in Dublin in the 16th century.

Brothers Christopher and Richard Fagan, both mayors of Dublin – in 1573 and 1587 respectively – were key figures in the founding of the university in 1592.

Princess Charlene is currently recuperating in South Africa after a serious ear, nose and throat infection which has kept her in the country since mid-May.