Friday, June 12, 2020

The Death of Elisabeth de Massy, First Cousin and Confidante of Prince Albert II of Monaco

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Yesterday, 11 June, the Prince's Palace of Monaco announced the death of Elisabeth-Anne de Massy, who passed away on Wednesday, 10 June, at the Princess Grace Hospital Centre in Monte Carlo. She was seventy-two years-old.


Elisabeth was the first cousin of Princess Caroline of Hannover, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and Princess Stéphanie of Monaco (Elisabeth's goddaughter). Prior to the death of her uncle Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 2005, Elisabeth de Massy was fifteenth in the line of succession to the Monegasque throne.

Aleco Noghès with his son Christian and daughter Elisabeth 
The De Massy children with their uncle Rainier
Prince Rainier and Princess Grace with Princess Antoinette and her three children: Elisabeth, Christian, and Christine.

Elizabeth-Ann Charlotte Mary Kathleen Dévote Grimaldi was born on 3 July 1947 in Monte Carlo to Princess Antoinette "Tiny" of Monaco (28 December 1920 – 18 March 2011) and Alexandre-Athenase "Aleco" Noghès (15 June 1916 – 16 February 1999), an attorney and international tennis champion. Elisabeth's parents were not married when she was born. Elisabeth was joined by a younger brother and sister: Christian (b.1949) and Christine (1951 – 1989). Princess Antoinette of Monaco and Alexandre-Athenase Noghès married in Genoa, Italy, on 4 December 1951; the month before, on 15 November 1951, Princess Antoinette was created Baroness of Massy by her brother Prince Rainier III. Her children's surnames were then changed from "Grimaldi" to "de Massy." The Noghès/Monaco union was of short duration, and the couple divorced in 1954. Antoinette retained custody of her children and limited their contact with their father Aleco.

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In her early years, Elisabeth lived with her family at the Villa les Glycines (built in 1910 by Walter Williams, the first winner of the Monaco Grand Prix) and then at the Villa Mereze. Given the rather turbulent nature of the household of Princess Antoinette, the one calming fixture in her children's youth was their nanny, Kathleen Wanstall, who had also been the nanny of Princess Antoinette and Prince Rainier.

Antony Noghès
Count Pierre de Polignac
Princess Charlotte of Monaco

Elisabeth de Massy was the paternal granddaughter of Antony Noghès (1890 – 1978), the founder of the Grand Prix de Monaco, and Marie Markellos-Petsalis. Elisabeth's maternal great-grandparents were Count Pierre de Polignac (1895 – 1964) and Princess Charlotte of Monaco (1898 – 1977 ).

Wedding of Elisabeth de Massy and Baron Bernard Taubert-Natta
Nicolai de Lusignan

On 19 January 1974 in Geneva, Elisabeth de Massy married Baron Bernard Alexandre Taubert-Natta (Geneva 2 July 1941 – Geneva 13 April 1989). The couple had one son, Baron Jean-Léonard Taubert Natta (b.Geneva 3 June 1974). Elisabeth and Bernard divorced on 30 October 1980. In September 1982, Elisabeth de Massy suffered an intestinal haemorrhage. On 18 October 1984 in London, Elisabeth married choreographer Nicolai Vladimir Costello (b.24 December 1943; uses the surname "de Lusignan"). Elisabeth and Nicolai had one daughter, Mélanie-Antoinette Costello de Lusignan (b.Monaco 18 January 1985); they divorced on 28 March 1985.

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Elisabeth was the only one of Princess Antoinette's two surviving children to successfully navigate the complicated dynamic that existed between Antoinette and her brother Rainier. She was a support to her mother as well as to her uncle and her paternal first cousins. In 1963, one of Princess Stéphanie's godparents was her first cousin Elisabeth. When Stéphanie married Daniel Ducruet in 1995, Elisabeth was one of the forty guests at her goddaughter/cousin's wedding.

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On 17 November 1995, Elisabeth de Massy was made Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint-Charles. Elisabeth served as the President of the Monegasque Tennis Federation and the Monte Carlo Country Club. In 1984, she was appointed vice-president of the Society for the Protection of Animals – Abri de Monaco and, the following year, she became vice-president of the Canine Society of Monaco. In 2009, Elisabeth was appointed Commander of the Order of Grimaldi. For many years, the discreet baroness accompanied her cousin Prince Albert II as a stand-in "First Lady of Monaco."

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Elisabeth de Massy is survived by her son Jean-Léonard, her daughter-in-law Suzanne, her grandson Melchior, and her daughter Mélanie-Antoinette.

May She Rest In Peace.

1 comment:

  1. May she rest in peace ! Condoleces to the Family. Thank you for your tireless informing on the royals of the world, especially Europe, Seth. You are greatly appreciated.

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