Princess Charlene and Prince Albert Leaned Sweetly on Each Other at Monaco’s Red Cross Ball

On Monday evening in Monaco, Her Serene Highness showed up to the ball and lived up to her title.

Accompanied by her husband, Prince Albert II, Princess Charlene was a study in cool composure as she made her entrance to the principality’s 73rd annual Red Cross Ball. Her attendance sent a strong signal that she was ready to reassume her royal duties, after a prolonged absence from public life due to health issues.

In the stultifying and sticky 92-degree heat baking majestic Casino Square, where the outdoor gala was held, most of the more than 600 elegantly dressed and heavily bejeweled guests were shvitzing. Charlene channeled a cooler temperature in a sleeveless ice blue Prada gown and an icy diamond necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels.

By Pierre Villard/Monte Carlo Société des Bains de Mer.

She had missed the Bal de la Rose, Monaco’s other most glamorous social night of the year, just 10 days before. Of the two, the Rose Ball has traditionally been glitzier, drawing celebrities from the fashion and entertainment firmaments.

This year at the Rose Ball, Janet Jackson and Christian Louboutin, creative director for the evening, joined Prince Albert and various young Grimaldis and Casiraghis. While Princess Caroline and her daughter Charlotte—accompanied by her husband, Dimitri Rassam, a French producer—wore Chanel couture, the family’s fashion standout was Caroline’s youngest child, then 22-year-old Princess Alexandra of Hanover, who wore a dramatic billowing red-and-white chiffon gown by Giambattista Valli. She was accompanied by her boyfriend, Ben-Sylvester Strautmann. Also in attendance: Andrea Casiraghi and spouse Tatania Santo Domingo, Pierre Casiraghi and Beatrice Borromeo, Monaco resident Dame Shirley Bassey, and Jackson in a black figure-hugging halter gown with a jeweled collar.

The Red Cross, meanwhile, is arguably more prestigious, but also slightly dowdier—more personal. Prince Louis II created the Monaco chapter of the international relief agency in 1948 (Maurice Chevalier entertained at the inaugural gala), which Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace successively presided over. The Red Cross Ball raises funds for social welfare and rescue programs in the principality and neighboring areas. It also provides funds to the International Committee of the Red Cross for humanitarian assistance worldwide. Almost all of the 73 balls have featured major entertainers. The list includes Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, Shirley Bassey, Frank Sinatra, Grace Jones, Liza Minnelli, Elton John, Diana Ross, and Rod Stewart.

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