This past Saturday, the usual rumbling of supercar motors in Monaco’s central square was washed out by the buzz of that night’s Red Cross Ball at the Place du Casino. A crowd of onlookers gathered to witness gala guests swanning through the lobby of the Hôtel de Paris, some stopping to rub the raised front hoof of a horse sculpture for a bit of luck at the roulette table later in the evening, and walk over to the Casino for the ball.
Though the summer season is chock full of social highlights for well-heeled holiday-makers, the yearly Red Cross Ball serves as Monaco’s pinnacle gathering, raising funds and awareness for the Monaco Red Cross, which provides support for domestic and international humanitarian missions and disaster preparedness. Now in its 74th year, the chapter was first established in 1948 by Prince Louis II and was presided over by Princess Grace until 1982.
The organization’s current president, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, arrived in an expectedly presidential fashion, preceded by a motorcade and a hive of suited security. He was joined by his wife, Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene, and their niece, Camille Gottlieb, both toting bouquets that appeared to serendipitously match their respective lavender and white gowns perfectly.
Inside the festivities, the Salles des Étoiles ballroom was awash in disco-ready metallics, down to the charger plates and dining chairs, where guests took their seats to indulge in a deluge of champagne and, rather than an auction, a raffle for which tickets were just 100 euros; a rare moment of frugality in this gilded city.
Of the lots on offer, none appeared more coveted than a Chopard timepiece, donated by Princess Charlene, and taken home by an unsuspecting partygoer in the back of the room who tearfully accepted her winnings on stage.
This gave way to the dramatic opening of the room’s ceiling, giving new meaning to the venue’s name, the Hall of Stars, as the party carried on in the open air and a fireworks show erupted in the bay.
Though this could have made for a suitable exclamation point for the evening, the promise of rock royalty in the form of Robbie Williams remained, with the crooner emerging around midnight for an hour-long set of hits, impressive dance moves, and a bit of comedic grandstanding.
“Madame, I remember you from Jimmyz, I think it was 1997?” he quipped in reference to the infamous Monaco nightclub nearby, which would play host to much more late-night revelry. “I try to love you all individually, and I think I did my best.”