Prince Albert I's Arctic Exploration

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Map of the northern part of Albert I Land.

From an early age, Prince Albert I of Monaco evidenced a strong fascination for the polar regions. In the years 1898-1907 he made four scientific cruises to Svalbard on his yacht Princesse Alice.

The first cruise in the summer of 1898 was an oceanographical and zoological reconnaissance, aimed mainly at adding to the collections of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, for which the construction had just started.

The second expedition, in 1899, the focus was on the hydrography and topography of Raudfjorden, on the north-western tip of Spitsbergen, of which a map was published. His efforts are acknowledged by the later naming of Albert I Land, which comprises the part of Spitsbergen west of Raudfjorden.

The third trip, in 1906, meteorology was added to the range of observations and surveys were pursued. The Prince also provided support for two other expeditions, that of the Scotsman, William Bruce, to Prins Karls Forland, and that of the Norwegian, Gunnar Isachsen, to northwestern Spitsbergen. His funding of the latter lead to regular Norwegian scientific expeditions on Svalbard, and in 1928 the foundation of the Norwegian Polar Institute.

The Prince's fourth expedition in 1907, was aimed at completing the results from the previous summer. Prince Albert also lent his support, either financially, or through gifts or loans of oceanographic instruments, to numerous Arctic and Antarctic explorers. Finally, he showed a keen interest in environmental protection, especially in Svalbard. This is demonstrated by his responses to a questionnaire that Hugo Conwentz, a German botanist sent him in 1912.

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