Central European Time Zone UTC+01:00
Capital City Monte Carlo
National Day 19 November
On moving to the UK with her family as a 12-year-old, Her Excellency Mrs Evelyne Genta wrote to the Queen requesting a shorter quarantine period for her little dog. Decades later, Mrs Genta, who still has Her Majesty’s polite letter of reply, was thrilled to finally meet the Queen: ‘I’ve always admired her very much,’ says Monaco’s new Ambassador.
The Principality of Monaco is a tiny state situated in the heart of the French Riviera. It has been ruled by the Grimaldi family for over 700 years. Mrs Genta was born in Monaco but educated in London, at the French Lycée; desiring something similar for her own daughter, she returned to the UK six years ago with her husband. Three years later, she opened the Monaco Consulate General in the heart of Mayfair. ‘Being a Monegasque and an Anglophile, it made sense, especially with the large British community in Monaco. And it has proved very busy!’ Earlier this year it was upgraded to an embassy (Monaco’s fourteenth) – ‘although essentially it’s still the same job!’ she laughs.
Mrs Genta is convinced that her background in the private sector, working for the luxury hotel and resort group SBM Monte-Carlo and subsequently running – alongside her husband – the famous designer watch brand Gerald Genta, contributes to her role as Ambassador. ‘I was working in the world of luxury and high quality, which in essence is what Monaco is all about,’ she says. ‘People living in Monaco really do have a special quality of life: the size, security and international connections ensure it’s very unusual. There are only 33,000 people living there and 140 different nationalities. In the watch industry, similarly, my clients were from all over the world – today, as Ambassador, I often come into contact with the same people.’ For nearly 20 years Mrs Genta has also served as President of the Monaco-based charity Mission Enfance, which, under the patronage of Prince Albert, finances and runs schools in ‘difficult regions’ around the world.
One of her first official roles as Ambassador was to attend the opening of ‘Grace Kelly: Style Icon’, an exhibition at the V&A tracing Kelly’s evolution from popular Hollywood actress to Princess Grace of Monaco. Mrs Genta is looking forward to an upcoming Monaco event at the Saatchi Gallery in September in the presence of Prince Albert.
As Ambassador in the UK, her main priority is to explain what Monaco is all about – in particular, to ‘demystify the workings of the Monegasque economy.’ She wholeheartedly rejects the epithet, famously coined by Somerset Maugham, that Monaco is ‘a sunny place for shady people.’ A zero income tax policy is one thing, tax fraud another, and in recent years Monaco has demonstrated its readiness to combat the latter according to international criteria – so much so that last year it was removed from the OECD’s ‘grey list’ of uncooperative jurisdictions.
The Ambassador acknowledges that Monaco’s greatest challenge is to be taken seriously as its own country – a ‘twenty-first century democracy’ run by the Prince in accordance with international principles of good governance: ‘Our country is a member of the international community and, although not part of the European Union, we comply with international as well as many European laws and regulations. We are represented in the UN and in the Council of Europe.’ Uniquely glamorous and cosmopolitan, Monaco could not have chosen a better Ambassador to represent it in London.