When it comes to environmental issues and European royalty, Britain's Prince Charles has famously led the debate on global warming and climate issues for a generation.
But a new royal has entered the debate, and Monaco's Prince Albert recently joined Prince Charles at his innovative Poundbury village in Dorset.
The significance that it was Charles' 58th birthday wasn't overlooked by a Monaco travel guide, YourMonaco.com
'Since Albert came to power he has made the environment his number one priority. And just as Prince Charles has become known for his views on everything from architecture to climate change, so has Prince Albert. Of course Albert's position isn't as important as Charles' as future King of England, but where he can he tries to champion the environmental cause'.
In April 2006 Prince Albert made a trip to the North Pole to highlight the issue of global warming, and since then has taken part in other initiatives to try and push the environment up the political agenda of fellow world leaders, including involving Monaco more at the United Nations and for the first time calculating the tax haven's GDP, which will allow Monaco to commit money towards developing countries.
'As soon as he came to power he signed Monaco up to the Kyoto Treaty designed to cut the world's greenhouse emissions', add YourMonaco, 'and he has established his own foundation to promote better understanding of the issues of the rise in sea levels and quality of water'.
With the threat of rising sea levels, it's easy to see that Monaco could be affected as it sits on the shores of the Mediterranean. The world's second smallest country, and the best known tax haven, Monaco has in the past increased her size by reclaiming land from the sea, resulting in area where the district of Fontvieille now stands, and one of the best known hotels in Monaco, the Columbus, is situated.
But there is a danger that by championing the environmental cause that Prince Albert could turn off his people before he turns off the warming of the planet.
'Monaco is home to the world's wealthy', say the travel guide, 'And it's a place of fun. The Monaco Grand Prix, the casino and the fact that it's the most sought after tax haven in Europe might not sit comfortably with heavy politics. Happily the environment is an issue that has moved from the fringe to mainstream, and is something that nearly everyone is concerned about. Luckily for Prince Albert he has identified himself with an issue that is just as important to the tax exiles and business people who bring their money to Monaco as it is to everyone else. In the past Prince Charles has been slightly ridiculed with his views on the environment and organic farming, but now with hindsight a lot of people think he was ahead of his time.'
Referring to Monaco's tax haven status YourMonaco.com add 'Prince Albert needs to be careful not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Monaco is to start asking businesses in strict confidentiality for finance figures so Monaco can do more at the United Nations and on environmental issues. If he looks down from his palace and sees the wealth surrounding him he might be tempted to tap into it for environmental causes as he believes in it in such a genuine and sincere way. There have been press reports of some of his staff leaving, and if true it can only be hoped that it wasn't over fiscal matters. From the European royal families on environment issues we would view Charles as the king, and hopefully Albert will be the prince!'.
Monte Carlo Weather
Prince Albert's father, Prince Rainier, was Europe's longest reigning Monarch until his death in April 2005. Known affectionately as the 'builder prince' he transformed Monaco into the world's favourite tax haven and ensured the Monaco Grand Prix became one of the best known annual sporting events. The Principality Albert succeeded to was a country known throughout the world for money and glamour, and the Monte Carlo casino only added to its legendary status.
Albert has continued in his father's footsteps with a plan to develop an island off Monte Carlo, and like his father with the reclaimed land in Fontvieille the map of Monaco will change again.
In keeping with his stance on the environment, it is thought that a successful bid to build the island will need to be seen to be environmentally friendly, with the possibility of lower rise buildings than some parts of Monaco have endured to create more living space.
Monte Carlo has long been associated with glamour, heightened throughout the world in 1956 when Prince Albert's father married his mother, US actress Grace Kelly.
Speculation was rife earlier this year that Prince Albert would be announcing his own engagement to South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock.
'Things have gone quiet recently on the Charlene front', comment YourMonaco, 'Monaco is all about glitz and glamour and perhaps a surprise announcement will be made soon. But it's possible that Albert is more interested in environmental affairs than affairs of the heart'.
Monaco has been making the news recently as Monaco real estate prices have escalated, and are on a level with London and New York.
Even the cheapest studios are edging towards the million Euro level according to Monaco property specialists Tribune Properties.
'Increasing taxes elsewhere in Europe, especially in the UK, have seen inquiries increase significantly over the last twelve months,' they say, 'and it's not the Monaco weather that's drawing buyers, but the income tax free status of being a resident, and the security that goes with living in Monaco. There's one policeman for every one hundred residents and has to be the safest country to live in Europe'.
The 2007 Monaco Grand Prix, the possibility of a royal engagement and Prince Albert's continuing campaign for the environment make the year ahead an exciting one for residents and visitors to Monaco alike.