Charlie Battle, Monaco‘s new honorary consul for the Southeast U.S., attributes his selection in part to a friendship with Albert II, the country’s sovereign prince, that started as Atlanta was bidding for the 1996 Olympic Games, Mr. Battle told GlobalAtlanta.
Prince Albert, son of the late American actress Grace Kelly, is a member of the International Olympic Committee. Mr. Battle, an Atlanta attorney, was in charge of external relations for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games through the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. He has served as senior international adviser to several bid and host cities, including Sochi, Russia, host of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
“The first time I went there was when Atlanta was bidding for the Games,” Mr. Battle said. “I landed in Nice [France]. I was going to get a car or something. But I was with an IOC member and he booked seats for a short helicopter ride to Monaco. Riding up the coast, I felt like I was in a James Bond movie.”
He described Monaco, a country of 30,000 people near the border of Italy and France, as beautiful and elegant.
“It’s a small place with an interesting mix of older French and Italian architecture with modern high rises,” said Mr. Battle. “It’s got nice beaches. The setting is spectacular. The mountains go up right behind it.”
Known for its gambling casinos in Monte Carlo, Monaco also has an opera hall, symphony hall, convention facilities, spas, nice hotels and restaurants.
“Any place with royalty always has a certain appeal,” said Mr. Battle. “People like to see all of that, visit the palace.”
Mr. Battle said his appointment is part of an effort by Prince Albert to expand the country’s diplomatic presence.
In the United States, Monaco has an embassy in Washington, a consulate general in New York and honorary consuls in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and now Atlanta.
‘I think it’s really an effort to educate people about Monaco,” he said. “They do a lot of interesting things in technology, sports and medicine. Mainly of course, they are a tourist destination and I think they try to promote themselves as more of a luxury tourist destination.”
Gilles Noghès, Monaco’s ambassador to the U.S. and Canada, told GlobalAtlanta via e-mail that Mr. Battle was chosen because of his longstanding ties with the country and Prince Albert.
“Mr. Battle has an extensive experience in international relations and a good knowledge of Monaco,” said the ambassador.
As honorary consul, Mr. Battle will be Monaco’s representative in seven states in the Southeast U.S. The country’s small size means it will likely be a quiet post.
He does hope that Prince Albert will pay a visit to Atlanta.
“I have to think there may be an opportunity for him to come,” said Mr. Battle. “He has fond memories of the Atlanta Olympics and has those connections here.”
Prince Albert has a foundation committed to addressing climate change, preserving biodiversity and promoting conservation. For more information, click here.