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WTF is Going On?

Albert and Charlene ‘deal’ proves there’s no romance without finance

The French press is reporting that the prince is paying the princess R169m per year to stay in her miserable marriage

15 May 2022 - 00:02
Princess Charlene of Monaco, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Prince Jacques of Monaco and Princess Gabriella of Monaco. File image.
Princess Charlene of Monaco, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Prince Jacques of Monaco and Princess Gabriella of Monaco. File image.
Image: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

I'm almost certain that the moment the idea of marriage bubbled up in the minds of our early hominid ancestors, a contract came attached to any and all examples of prospective connubial bliss. The Romans, being of a legal bent, had a marvellously complex set of contractual arrangements governing marriage — who could and couldn't do it, what would happen to the dowry if the wife strayed from the straight and narrow (she would get half back in the event of a divorce) and, of course, the question burning a hole into so many ancient bank balances, how much money would change hands before the marriage could be solemnised?

The marriage ceremony was centred on the contract as opposed to any oaths before the gods promising obeisance and such. And once the lawyered-up couple had signed on the dotted line they would seal the deal with a kiss. After which the groom would carry the bride over the threshold, lest she trip and fall over the brutally commercial nature of the agreement she'd just entered into.

So consider the news  now breaking in the French press that Prince Albert of Monaco is paying Princess Charlene a sum of over €10m (R169m) per annum to carry on in the state of wedded unbliss she's been so patently demonstrating by scowling tragically into the middle distance in pictures. They claim that the payments are so that the princess can return to her to princessly duties post-haste. As we know, she's been on a paid sabbatical for the past year in SA and somewhere in Switzerland.

We should probably see the payments as on a continuum with the Roman way of doing things. This isn't some cynical negotiation on the part of the princess that spits in the face of true love with callow self- interest — perhaps it's just business as usual.

I imagine there was an exit clause built into the first contract, based on a rigorous calculation measuring the relative loss of hairs on the princely head divided by the number of surprise children spawned by the ageing leader of the Monagesque monarchy, and multiplied by a factor of time spent waving on the royal balcony and shaking hands with the public.

The princess obviously felt that her deal warranted some renegotiation, so she took her sweet time to reconsider the entire enterprise. She was obviously wavering after making a break for it — but something had to give. She had to be incentivised to continue performing at a level that would maintain the idea that we're watching some kind of fairy-tale Disney romance as opposed to the tired machinations of royal figureheads trotting out the illusion of royal grandeur for the little people. As a certain hip-hop artist put it pithily, there can be “no romance without finance”.