Prince Albert of Monaco pays tribute to singer Josephine Baker

Prince Albert of Monaco pays tribute to singer Josephine Baker – a close friend of his mother Grace Kelly – at solo engagement as wife Princess Charlene remains in treatment facility

  • Prince Albert of Monaco paid tribute to Josephine Baker at a ceremony
  • Marks the singer being symbolically laid to rest in the Pantheon in Paris 
  • Baker was a close friend of Albert’s mother, Grace Kelly, and died in Monaco
  • She sought refuge in the Principality after being evicted from her French home 
  • Prince Albert of Monaco paid tribute to the American singer Josephine Baker, a close friend of his mother Grace Kelly, at a touching ceremony ahead of her being symbolically laid to rest in the Pantheon in Paris. 

    Speaking yesterday, Albert, 63, hailed Baker a ‘great lady’ with a ‘very strong link’ to the Principality.

    It comes as his wife, Princess Charlene, 43, continues to receive treatment for ’emotional and physical exhaustion’.

    Personal connection: Prince Albert of Monaco paid tribute to the American singer Josephine Baker, a close friend of his mother Grace Kelly, at a touching ceremony yesterday

    Personal connection: Prince Albert of Monaco paid tribute to the American singer Josephine Baker, a close friend of his mother Grace Kelly, at a touching ceremony yesterday

    Support: Baker spent the final years of her life in Monaco, where she was given use of a villa by close friend Grace Kelly after she found herself in debt and was evicted from the French château she shared with her 12 children. Pictured, Baker and Grace in Monaco in August 1969

    Support: Baker spent the final years of her life in Monaco, where she was given use of a villa by close friend Grace Kelly after she found herself in debt and was evicted from the French château she shared with her 12 children. Pictured, Baker and Grace in Monaco in August 1969

    The nature of Charlene’s condition is unclear but she was admitted to a treatment facility within days of her return to Monaco, following a 10-month absence in South Africa where she underwent surgery for a sinus infection. 

    Albert delivered a speech in front of the Monument aux Morts, a tribute to the dead, in which he recalled the close relationship between Baker and his mother, the Hollywood starlet Grace Kelly.  

    Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Baker became a megastar in the 1930s, especially in France, where she moved in 1925 as she was seeking to flee racism and segregation in the United States. 

    She spent the final years of her life in Monaco, where she was given use of a villa by Princess Grace after she found herself in debt and was evicted from the French château she shared with her 12 children.   

    Solo engagements: Albert's outing comes as his wife, Princess Charlene, 43, continues to receive treatment for 'emotional and physical exhaustion'. The nature of Charlene's condition is unclear but she was admitted to a treatment facility within days of her return to Monaco, following a 10-month absence in South Africa. Pictured, the family reunion earlier this month

    Solo engagements: Albert’s outing comes as his wife, Princess Charlene, 43, continues to receive treatment for ’emotional and physical exhaustion’. The nature of Charlene’s condition is unclear but she was admitted to a treatment facility within days of her return to Monaco, following a 10-month absence in South Africa. Pictured, the family reunion earlier this month

    Grace, wife of Prince Rainier III of Monaco, also helped the singer, then in her 60s, reignite her career by inviting her to perform at a charity gala in Monaco and financing a concert in Paris to mark the 50th anniversary of her career. 

    Josephine died of a brain haemorrhage in 1975, aged 68. 

    Baker is not only praised for her world-renowned artistic career but also for her active role in the French Resistance during World War II, her actions as a civil rights activist and her humanist values, which she displayed through the adoption of her 12 children from all over the world. 

    She was buried in a Monaco cemetery but will today be symbolically laid to rest alongside other French luminaries in her adopted country.

    Remembered: Albert delivered a speech in front of the Monument aux Morts, a tribute to the dead, in which he recalled the close relationship between Baker and his mother, Grace Kelly

    Remembered: Albert delivered a speech in front of the Monument aux Morts, a tribute to the dead, in which he recalled the close relationship between Baker and his mother, Grace Kelly

    Solemn: Following the speech, Albert joined Monaco dignitaries on a visit to her grave site

    Solemn: Following the speech, Albert joined Monaco dignitaries on a visit to her grave site

    Symbolic: Albert also removed a small pile of earth from the grave, which will be combined with soil from the US and France and buried in a coffin in the Pantheon in Paris

    Symbolic: Albert also removed a small pile of earth from the grave, which will be combined with soil from the US and France and buried in a coffin in the Pantheon in Paris

    In his speech, Albert French poet Louis Aragon, he said Baker was French ‘not by birth, but by preference.’  

    He also removed a small pile of earth from the grave, which will be combined with soil from the US and France and buried in a coffin in the Pantheon. 

    Baker will be the first Black woman to be symbolically laid to rest in the monument.  

    Albert told a local newspaper: Prince Albert of Monaco told Nice-Matin: ‘It is an extremely important recognition to enter the Panthéon, but it will be a cenotaph. It is important that the body remains in the principality to establish definitively this very strong link between my mother, the principality and Josephine Baker.’  

    French President Emmanuel Macron made the decision in August to honor the ‘exceptional figure’ who ’embodies the French spirit’. 

    Baker, the first American-born citizen and the first performer to be given the recognition, will join scientist Marie Curie, philosopher Voltaire, writer Victor Hugo and other French luminaries. 

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