Prince Albert of Monaco pays tribute to singer Josephine Baker

Prince Albert of Monaco paid tribute to American singer Josephine Baker, a close friend of his mother Grace Kelly, at a touching ceremony before she was symbolically laid to rest in the Pantheon in Paris.

Albert, 63, hailed yesterday that Baker was a ‘great lady’ with a ‘very strong connection’ to the Principality.

It happens as his wife, Princess Charlene, 43, continues to receive treatment for ’emotional and physical exhaustion’.

Personal connection: Prince Albert of Monaco paid tribute to American singer Josephine Baker, a close friend of his mother Grace Kelly, at a touching ceremony yesterday

Personal connection: Prince Albert of Monaco paid tribute to American singer Josephine Baker, a close friend of his mother Grace Kelly, at a touching ceremony yesterday

Support: Baker spent the last years of her life in Monaco, where she made use of a villa of close friend Grace Kelly after she was in debt and was thrown out of the French castle she shared with her 12 children.  Pictured, Baker and Grace in Monaco in August 1969

Support: Baker spent the last years of her life in Monaco, where she made use of a villa of close friend Grace Kelly after she was in debt and was thrown out of the French castle she shared with her 12 children. Pictured, Baker and Grace in Monaco in August 1969

The nature of Charlene’s condition is unclear, but she was admitted to a treatment center within days of her return to Monaco, following a 10-month absence in South Africa, where she underwent surgery for a sinus infection.

Albert gave a speech in front of the Monument aux Morts, a tribute to the dead, in which he recalled the close relationship between Baker and his mother, Hollywood star Grace Kelly.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Baker became a megastar in the 1930s, especially in France, where she moved to in 1925 when she sought to escape racism and segregation in the United States.

She spent the last years of her life in Monaco, where she made use of a villa of Princess Grace after she was in debt and was thrown out of the French castle she shared with her 12 children.

Solo engagements: Albert's outing comes as his wife, Princess Charlene, 43, continues to receive treatment for 'emotional and physical exhaustion'.  The nature of Charlene's condition is unclear, but she was admitted to a treatment center within days of her return to Monaco after a 10-month absence in South Africa.  Pictured is the family reunion earlier this month

Solo engagements: Albert’s outing comes as his wife, Princess Charlene, 43, continues to receive treatment for ’emotional and physical exhaustion’. The nature of Charlene’s condition is unclear, but she was admitted to a treatment center within days of her return to Monaco after a 10-month absence in South Africa. Pictured is the family reunion earlier this month

Grace, wife of Prince Rainier III of Monaco, also helped the singer, who was in her 60s at the time, revive her career by inviting her to perform at a charity gala in Monaco and fund a concert in Paris to mark 50- the year of her career.

Josephine died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1975, aged 68 years.

Baker is praised not only for her world-renowned artistic career, but also for her active role in the French resistance movement during World War II, her actions as a civil rights activist and her humanistic values, which she demonstrated through the adoption of her 12 children from around the world.

She was buried in a cemetery in Monaco, but will today symbolically be laid to rest with other French coryphaeus in her adoptive country.

Remembered: Albert delivered a speech in front of the Monument aux Morts, a tribute to the dead, in which he recalled the close relationship between Baker and his mother, Grace Kelly

Remembered: Albert delivered a speech in front of the Monument aux Morts, a tribute to the dead, in which he recalled the close relationship between Baker and his mother, Grace Kelly

Solemn: After the speech, Albert joined the dignitaries of Monaco on a visit to her gravesite

Solemn: After the speech, Albert joined the dignitaries of Monaco on a visit to her gravesite

Symbolic: Albert also removed a small pile of earth from the tomb, which will be combined with earth from the United States and France and buried in a coffin in the Pantheon in Paris

Symbolic: Albert also removed a small pile of earth from the tomb, which will be combined with earth from the United States and France and buried in a coffin in the Pantheon in Paris

In his speech, Albert the French poet Louis Aragon, he said that Baker was French ‘not by birth, but by preference.’

He also removed a small pile of earth from the tomb, which will be combined with earth from the United States and France and buried in a coffin in the Pantheon.

Baker will be the first black woman to be symbolically laid to rest in the monument.

Albert told a local newspaper: Prince Albert of Monaco told Nice-Matin: ‘It is an extremely important recognition to enter the Panthéon, but it will be a cenotaph. It is important that the body remains in the principality to definitely establish this very strong connection between my mother, the principality and Josephine Baker. ‘

In August, French President Emmanuel Macron took the decision to honor the ‘exceptional figure’ who ’embodies the French spirit’.

Baker, the first American-born citizen and the first artist to receive the recognition, will join the scientist Marie Curie, the philosopher Voltaire, the author Victor Hugo and other French luminaries.

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