Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Consort Profile: Princess Antoinette de Merode-Westerloo
One of the lasting legacies of Princess Antoinette was the purchase, with her dowry, of the Château de Marchais which has remained in the Grimaldi family ever since and was the favorite country retreat of many generations including Prince Rainier III, Princess Grace and their children. The money she brought to Monaco also helped in the establishment and improvement of the Monte Carlo casino which soon proved to be a very beneficial investment, bringing hordes of wealthy tourists to the gaming tables and solving the financial problems of the principality.
Prince Charles III and Princess Antoinette had a very happy marriage and Charles depended greatly on his hard-working wife, whom he called his “Angel”. Charles was already suffering from poor health and failing eyesight when Princess Antoinette was diagnosed with cancer in 1862. Nonetheless, she took attentive care of her husband, ignoring her own terminal illness, in the most selfless fashion. Even when her worsening condition forced her to leave Monaco and retire to Marchais for the benefit of the country air she wrote constantly her husband, inquiring after his health and that of her mother-in-law, warning that the devoted old woman should not put her own health in danger by doing too much to help Charles III.
Princess Antoinette seemed out of her element if she could not be helping others and despite her condition she could stand to be away no longer and returned to Monaco to look after her husband and mother-in-law. With a doctor and two maids she made the journey back to the Princely Palace, a trip which took a toll on the rapidly worsening condition the Princess herself was suffering. Only three months later HSH Princess Antoinette of Monaco passed away on February 10, 1864. Prince Charles III was devastated by her loss and was forced to rely ever more on those around him, mostly his mother at first, as he became more infirm and withdrawn, rarely leaving the Princely Palace in his final years. Princess Antoinette is not as much talked about as some other Princesses of Monaco, but she was an exemplary consort in every way. Few others were ever as devoted, selfless and caring as the Belgian Princess of Monaco.