Royal mystery: Secret underground tunnel system stores prized documents

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Monaco is ruled over by the House of Grimaldi. The royal dynasty is associated historically with the Republic of Genoa. It wasn’t always connected to Monaco.

In 1297, the Genoese leader of Guelphs, Francesco Grimaldi, took lordship of Monaco along with his soldiers.

They stormed and captured the region with the guise of their being Franciscan monks.

The principalities current Prince, Albert II, is directly descended from this lineage that spans nearly a thousand years.

All of this information, along with documents and historical accounts, is kept in a series of high-security underground tunnels, directly beneath the glamorous Monaco Palace.

The vaults were opened during the documentary ‘Privacy and Power: A year In The Life Of Prince Albert Of Monaco’.

It was here that the archives minder, Thomas Fouilleron, siphoned through the treasure trove of history, revealing snippets of Albert’s correspondence with other royals, as well as bits of his personal life throughout the years.

Along four kilometres of shelves is the memory of the Grimaldi dynasty preserved.

In the segment, Mr Fouilleron is tasked with archiving a letter from Queen Elizabeth II to Albert.

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He explained: “The envelope is closed with the seal of Queen Elizabeth.

“And signed by her hand, Elizabeth Regina, who refers to Albert II as her brother and cousin because according to the traditional terminology of monarchs, they consider themselves as all being cousins.”

The letter joins the thousands of other documents of correspondence between Monaco and the UK.

Among the files Mr Fouilleron sifts through is a “special” file that was created and kept at the request of Princess Grace Kelly, Albert’s late American mother.


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She sadly passed away in a car accident in 1982.

In the box: a few drawings by Albert when he was a schoolboy.

Mr Fouilleron said: “These are won engravings he did in year ten.

“The cowboy and Indian are likely to be a family reference to the US.”

Among the other pieces is a mother’s day card from Albert when he was very small.

It said: “Dear mummy, I’d like to tell you all that I feel in my heart, but I can only smile and offer these flowers.

“I clasp you in my two small arms – it’s much better than a long speech.

“All I want to say is that I love you.

“Happy Mother’s Day.”

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