January 27, 1997 12:00 PM

AFTER A YEAR IN WHICH PRINCESS STEPHANIE DIVORCED her philandering husband and Princess Caroline contracted a skin disease that cost her her hair, Monaco’s royal family was surely happy to have reason to celebrate. On Jan. 8, Prince Rainier, Prince Albert and the princesses presided over festivities marking the 700th anniversary of the world’s longest-ruling dynasty—a reign that began when François Grimaldi conquered the local fortress by dressing as a monk and skewering guards with a sword pulled from his robe. After a mass, the family unveiled a statue of François and saw a ballet at Monte Carlo’s casino, while vendors hawked commemorative caps and stamps but, alas, no septecentennial swords.

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