Princely visit to Svalbard planned for summer | Polarjournal
Prince Albert II of Monaco was born in 1958, the second of three children of Prince Rainier III and Princess Gracia Patricia. Due to the rules of succession, he succeeded to the throne as Prince Albert II in 2005 after the death of his father. An avid athlete and IOC member, he is also a well-known environmental activist with a keen interest in science. Image: Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

In the early days of polar exploration, investing time and resources in exploring the Arctic and Antarctic was a matter of prestige. But it was not only large nations such as Great Britain, the USA or France that played a leading role. Albert I, Prince of Monaco, also gave free rein to his urge to explore the Arctic and carried out several expeditions around Svalbard. In his honor, his great-great-grandson Albert II is now planning a visit to the Norwegian-administered archipelago this summer.

The Prince plans to make a private trip to Longyearbyen and Svalbard during the week in honor of the 100th anniversary of Albert I’s death on June 26, 2022. It is planned that the prince will be in Longyearbyen on June 23 and would like to erect a bust of his great-great-grandfather there, as the local newspaper Svalbardposten reports, referring to information from the authorities. Whether Prince Albert II’s plans will be met, however, is not yet conclusively known. A person close to the prince says that much depends on the pandemic situation.

The high visit in Longyearbyen is not by chance. Prince Albert I, who ruled the Monegasque principality from 1889 to 1922, was more explorer and discoverer than prince. Since his youth, he has been interested in the oceans and their secrets. On the other hand, he was also very interested in the polar regions. A total of four expeditions to the Arctic and Svalbard were financed and organized by Albert I. He did not miss the opportunity to go to Svalbard himself. In 1906 he came to Spitsbergen with his yacht Princesse Alice (named after his wife) and explored parts of the island world. His expeditions and their results were decisive for the research of the still young Norwegian state in Svalbard and the foundation of the later Norwegian Polar Institute.

Prince Albert II of Monaco is no stranger to the Arctic. Back in 2006, the prince undertook an expedition to the North Pole and drove the last 100 kilometers to the pole from Camp Barneo on dog sleds. Image: Explorersweb

His great-great-grandson Albert II is also no stranger to the polar world. In 2006, he was the first sitting head of state to reach the North Pole. However, he did not let himself be flown or taken there by boat. In the spirit of his ancestor, he was on an expedition from Camp Barneo with dog sleds. A year later, he also reached the South Pole. With both expeditions, he wanted to draw attention to the effects of climate change even back then. The now planned visit to Svalbard will be rather more luxurious for Albert II. For it is planned that he will travel to Longyearbyen aboard the new luxury.icebreaker of Ponant Le Commandant Charcot, as the cruise company writes on its website. However, the coming months will show whether this will actually take place as a result of the pandemic.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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