Birth of a vocation

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Statue of Prince Albert I
in gardens St Martin near
the Oceanographic Museum

This curiosity did not confine itself to landscapes, lifestyles and social patterns. Science and technology, which strides forward fascinated him, kindled his hope that they would bring material well-being, intellectual freedom and social justice to Humanity, as well as peace among individuals and nations. Well-informed thanks to his readings and discussions with scientists, the Prince took part in the trend of ideas stemming especially from Darwin's work. The origin of life, evolution of organized beings, natural selection, and struggle for existence were food for thought for him. The discovery of several prehistoric skeletons in grottos near Monaco triggered his interest for human palaeontology.

In 1884, an event proved to the Prince he could combine his passion for the sea and his enthusiasm for science.

The Museum of Paris exhibited machines and gatherings from missions carried out onboard of the Travailleur and the Talisman. Professor Alphonse Milne-Edwards' advice and encouragement, who conducted these campaigns, together with the outcome analysis, convinced Prince Albert to undertake scientific works at sea. As soon as the following summer, a trial trip was arranged in the North Sea and in the Baltic Sea. From 1885 to 1888, genuine scientific programs were conducted onboard of the Hirondelle.

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