Everything you ever wanted to know about Monaco, but were afraid to ask...

Publication date: 28/01/2022
Stéphane Bern answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Monaco. 

Why a prince and not a king?
The Grimaldis arrived on the Rock of Monaco in 1297, with François the Malicious (Malizia). Charles Grimaldi then became Lord of Monaco in 1342, and finally in 1612 Honoré II became Prince of Monaco. It's all part of a historic tradition, the Princes of Monaco. There is also a political aspect, with the Principality geographically forming an enclave within France. Those links mean there was a king of France and a sovereign ally: the Prince of Monaco.

Why is 19 November a special date?
The National Day is a family celebration, an annual renewal of the links between the Princely Family and the people of Monaco. It falls on the day of the Prince's patron saint. When he came to power, Prince Albert II decided to keep the patron saint's day of his father, Rainier III of Monaco, which was 19 November. The tradition has remained ever since.

What does the Monegasque flag symbolise?
The red and white flag of Monaco was created in 1881 by the founder of Monte-Carlo, Prince Charles III. The colours are the traditional colours of the Grimaldi family. It's said that they were originally those of the Republic of Genoa. The more poetic version is that the Red represents the blood of the patron saint Devota. To remember the colours, just think of the drink, the "Monaco", which is made with lemonade and grenadine cordial - the white and the red.

Is Monaco an independent state?
Monaco has all the trappings of an independent state: a Sovereign Prince, a government, a parliament, all of the institutions. The civil code is the one governed by French law. Incidentally, Monaco is in a monetary and customs union with France - it uses the euro, and the Sovereign Prince's likeness features on the coins.
Since 1918, France has ensured Monaco's security and protection, meaning that in the event of attack by a foreign power, France would guarantee the independence of the Principality of Monaco. 

What language is spoken in Monaco?
The official language is French. However, there is an unofficial language spoken. It is a Ligurian dialect, spoken in Ventimiglia for example, and found in the Monegasque national anthem. It has also been taught in Monaco's schools since 1970.

What is the population of Monaco?

There are around 37,300 people living in Monaco, including over 8,000 Monegasques, who hold a Monegasque passport. The population density is very high, with 19,000 inhabitants per square kilometre. Monaco is a small state of just over 2 km². It is home to around 140 different nationalities. You may be surprised to learn that it is one of the few countries where foreign nationals outnumber the locals.




Source: Monaco Now, transcript of interview with Stéphane Bern, 2021