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20 FRANC COIN - MONACO - PRINCE LOUIS II
(KM 124)

Date: A.D. 1947

Obverse: Portrait head left - LOUIS II PRINCE DE MONACO P. TURIN

Reverse: 2 Laurel branched and coat of arms - 20 FRANCS 1947 DEO JUVANTE
Engraver: Pierre Turin

Louis Honoré Charles Antoine de Grimaldi, known as Prince Louis II of Monaco, was born on July 12, 1870 in Baden-Baden, Germany to Prince Albert I of Monaco and Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton. Louis’s mother disliked Monaco and and was unhappy with her marriage to Albert. She left the country to live in Germany not long after his birth and the marriage was annulled in 1880. Louis was raised in Germany by his mother and stepfather and did not see his father until age 11 when he returned to Monaco to be trained for his future royal duties.

Unhappy living with his father, Louis went to France and enrolled in the Saint-Cyr Military Academy. After graduating he joined the French Foreign Legion and was sent to Africa. While stationed in Algeria, he met and fell in love with Marie Juliette Louvet, a cabaret singer with two children from a former marriage. He wished to marry her but was forbidden to do so by his father. All the same it is said the two may have secretly wed in 1897. Although there is no evidence of this wedding the relationship did produce an illegitimate daughter Charlotte Louise Juliette who would be legitimized in 1919 through formal adoption and subsequently named heiress to the throne of Monaco becoming Princess Charlotte, mother to Prince Rainer III.

He retired from the legion after 10 years service and was awarded the cross of the Legion of Honor but reenlisted in the French army upon the outbreak of World War I. He served admirably in the Fifth Army becoming a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor and eventually a Brigadier General. His military career is considered the most distinguished in a long line of Grimaldi military service.

His father died at Paris in 1922 and he ascended to the throne as Louis II, Prince of Monaco. Louis was the reigning monarch during World War II and attempted to keep his country neutral while offering support to the Vichy France government. Eventually the majority Italian population of Monaco would support Italy and its fascists leader Benito Mussolini who invaded and occupied Monaco in 1943. Upon the fall of Mussolini, Monaco was occupied by the German army which promptly began the deportation of the Jewish population. Although the prince issued secret orders to the Monaco police to warn people in advance about impending arrests, his indecision and lack of action against German occupation was strongly criticized by his grandson Rainier who vehemently opposed the Nazis.

After the war Prince Louis was an absentee ruler, spending much of his time in Paris were he married the French actress Ghislaine Dommanget. The couple settled at Le Marchais, a family estate near Paris, were he would spend much of the last years of his life.

Under the reign of Louis II Monaco saw the creation of the Monaco Football club in 1929, the first Grande Prix of Monaco was held, and the football stadium which bears his name, Stade Prince Louis II, opened to host the World University Games. The Prince was also an avid collector and continued to build upon his fathers extensive postal stamp collection, now housed in the postal museum. He also amassed artifacts belonging to Napoleon Bonaparte, now displayed in the Napoleon Museum attached to the Royal Palace in Monte Carlo.

Prince Louis II died on May 9, 1949 having reigned for 27 years. Princess Charlotte had ceded her succession rights to her son in 1944 and he succeeded his grandfather as Prince Rainier III.

Monaco (Principality of Monaco) is a constitutional monarchy in Europe located along the French Riviera between the Mediterranean Sea and France. It is the second-smallest independent nation. Its official Language is French though Italian and English are common as well as the local languages of Monégasque and Occitan.

Originally an ancient settlement Its name is derived from Monoikos (greek for single house). Monaco was re-founded in 1228 as a colony of Genoa and has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297.

In July 1918, a treaty was signed providing for limited French protection over Monaco and it has remained so save for a brief time under Italian and German occupation during WWII. In 1993, Monaco became a member of the United Nations, with full voting rights.

Monaco's main source of income is tourism as it attracts thousands to its casinos and beaches. It is one of the most expensive places on Earth and is often regarded as a tax haven as it has no income tax for individuals. Most of its inhabitants are millionaires from other countries. Native Monegasques are a minority in their own country accounting for only 16% of the population.