The Prince of Monaco's motorcade, the UK's looming referendum and an upset over the "Made in Italy" tag.
The House of Grimaldi, which has ruled Monaco since 1297, has never lacked a decent set of wheels. With his own Formula One Grand Prix race, annual yacht show and an impressive collection of green vehicles, Prince Albert II is living up to the family reputation.
The Grimaldi family owns a fleet of around 100 restored vintage vehicles – including horse-drawn carriages and sports cars. The late Prince Rainier III built up the collection, which includes models by Maserati, Jaguar and Rolls- Royce, and most of them are on public display at the palace – although they are still available for Albert to use.
Albert, who became head of state in 2005, is moving with the times though. He supports the development of green cars through his foundation, which has invested some €16m in more than 100 environmental projects. He is also chair of the Climate Group’s global EV20 alliance, signed by government leaders and businesses in 2010 with the target of getting one million more electrical vehicles on the road in the next five years.
The principality deploys a fleet of Daimler’s Smart Fortwo cars to government agencies and private firms affiliated with Monaco’s public service, while ownership of EVs is encouraged through state subsidies of up to a third off the cost of new electric vehicles.
As a car aficionado, Albert opts for a set of wheels whenever the occasion allows it. He uses the family Dassault Falcon 900EX on international trips.
Pacha III belongs to Princess Caroline, who is next in line to the throne, but other members of the royal family, including Albert, often use it too. Although Monte Carlo is famous for its yacht show – attended each year by 500 yacht builders – Albert himself doesn’t own a yacht. The Principality of Monaco owned the royal yacht Deo Juvante II between 1956 and 1958. It was a wedding gift from Aristotle Onassis to Prince Rainer and Grace Kelly and is now owned by Quasar Expeditions.
Prince Albert has a personal collection of environmentally friendly vehicles, including a Lexus LS 600h hybrid sedan, a Toyota Prius, Lexus RX 400h, and a BMW Hydrogen 7. More classic vehicles are used for official ceremonies, such as his enthronement in 2005 when he arrived to the mass service in a Daimler DS420 state limousine.
Italy’s rich food culture has come under scrutiny after a new study by Coldiretti, the country’s farmers’ association, exposed some dirty secrets about the provenance of many popular products. At least half the mozzarella on supermarket shelves and two hams out of three passed off as Italian had foreign origins.
For a country with 214 products that enjoy EU-protected status as special regional foods, the temptation by some unsavoury types to use foreign milk in cheese or Spanish olives in extra virgin olive oil is great. Coldiretti estimates the “false food” market is worth €4bn annually.
Germany needs workers and Spain needs jobs, but the biggest barrier to unemployed Spaniards swapping Madrid for Munich is language. A deal between the two countries has begun to bear fruit. Madrid’s Goethe Institut has seen a 23 per cent increase in language students so far this year while the Barcelona branch has seen a 19 per cent rise.
Date: 5 May
Issue: A proposition for the UK to abandon the first-past-the- post system of voting and replace it with the alternative vote (AV), under which electors will rank candidates in order of preference.
Key figures: The prime minister (Conservative David Cameron) and the deputy prime minister (Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg) are campaigning on opposite sides – the former against, the latter for.
Monocle comment: While the fight for the right to vote can still bring millions onto the streets, the fight for the right way to vote is considerably less exciting.
The Iraq war was a major motivation for the creation of France 24. In the build-up to the war, French cabinet ministers were concerned that the French opposition to the conflict was not clearly articulated on existing networks and wanted to provide an alternative to the BBC and CNN.