Monday, April 14, 2008

Prince Albert Agrees to Chair Our Global Advisory Board (4/02)

Call me the master of the cold letter, but from White & Case, our pro bono legal representation, to His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco, the head of our Global Advisory Board, I have been able to enlist much support through the power of the written word.

Prince Albert first sponsored one of the children in Haiti for $600 per year. I requested an audience with him, and as a Haitian child sponsor, he was entitled to a colorful key chain rack pounded flat from an old barrel and painted in vibrant hues, which I brought to him at our first meeting. I identified myself at the front desk of the exclusive Upper East Side hotel, and the next moment the general manager was beside me, asking me to accompany him. There were men in suits scattered throughout the lobby, carefully monitoring the guests. The manager used a key to get to the floor, and then unlocked another door. Security eyed us at each stop. We knocked at the third door and were let into the living room of the presidential suite, where I waited with my bright blue backpack containing the key rack. Prince Albert soon entered with security standing behind him. I had asked his assistant what to call him, and the assistant assured me that “Albert” would suffice, so Albert it was.

We chatted for some time about his American experiences and my work with Orphans International. Finally, I presented him with what I told him all Haiti child sponsors had received. The men standing behind him were rigid as I took the package out from my backpack, hands in their jackets watching me like vipers. He opened it up excitedly, and proclaimed, “Oh! I don’t have one of these in my palace!” He seemed truly appreciative. Several days later, I attempted to FedEx him a follow-up letter and could not enter it into the FedEx system without a postal code. I googled the Palace in Monaco and found the zip code – and the palace. It looked like Versailles and I could not imagine that the friendly guy I had met, who seemed in many ways as American as I, lived there. I realized then that I was going to make some friends in high places.

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