Alice Heine was born on 10 February 1858 in New Orleans as the daughter of Michel Heine and Amélie Marie Miltenberger. The American Civil War led the family back to France, where Alice made a great impression on the Parisian society. Her father’s firm helped finance Emperor Napoleon III’s war with Prussia.
She made a brilliant match with Marie Odet Armand Aimable Chapelle de Jumilhac, Marquis of Jumilhac, then 7th Duke of Richelieu and Duke of Aiguillon. She converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism, and they married on 27 February 1875. They had a son and a daughter before her husband’s death in 1880.
Alice met the future Albert I, Prince of Monaco, in 1885. He was 37, divorced from his first wife, and he had a son. Alice was 28 and a widow. They soon became lovers, despite the disapproval of his father. His father died four years later after falling ill with pneumonia. Albert left for Monaco to accept the oath of loyalty, but he soon returned to Paris and to Alice, who he married in a quiet service in Paris on 30 October. They honeymooned at Madeira before returning to Paris. On 9 February 1890, the couple returned to Monaco. The bride had 27 trunks filled with her trousseau.
Alice had some rivalry as Monaco’s first lady in the form of Albert’s aunt Florestine, but she handled the situation delicately by giving Florestine the larger suite of rooms. Alice wanted to make Monte Carlo an important cultural centre, but she would need to completely recreate its image.
Around the turn of the century, the couple began to have serious marital problems. He suspected she was having an affair, although he did not know who with. In the spring of 1902, on the night of the premiere of the opera Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, Alice was approached by her lover. The two had a whispered exchange, and Albert completely lost control. When Alice turned back to him, he slapped her across the face. Alice left the palace a few days later, and in May 1902, their official separation was announced. She left Monaco and stayed with her lover at the Claridge’s Hotel in London. She and Albert never divorced, and so she remained the Princess of Monaco. During her time in London, she became a close friend of Queen Alexandra.
She died on 22 December 1925 and is buried at Paris’s famous Père Lachaise Cemetery.1