“Of Royal and Papal Connections…”
If we are true to ourselves we will admit that all of us would like to experience great moments in our lives that we can cherish forever and pass on to our grandchildren who, in their own lives can have something grand to boast about.
But while he is only halfway from the rocking chair and his kids too young to appreciate the magnitude of his experiences, Joe Issa continues to cherish them with the humility you can expect from the Catholic Eucharistic Minister.
The experiences of the Cool Corporation founder, who turns everything he touches into gold, and no wonder, unveil a suite of connections that stretch from Buckingham Palace, to Monaco Royal Palace and the Vatican.
Only recently, Issa expressed delight at the visit of 57-year-old Prince Albert 11 of Monaco to the Vatican. The Prince, who has been a guest of Issa and his parents, was accompanied by his wife Princess Charlene, who is said to have charmed Pope Francis.
The prince, who also has a farm, brought the pontiff a basket of fruits and vegetables and a basket of cheese. He also gave Pope Francis a copy of a special edition of the papal encyclical, which stresses everyone’s duty to save the earth’s environment.
The encyclical, which was released by Pope Francis ahead of last December’s Paris conference on climate change, has been supported by Issa in local international publications where he joined the Pontiff’s calls for everyone to play a part in eliminating global warming.
And although, unlike Princess Charlene, Issa has not had the pleasure of kissing Pope Francis’ ring, he did receive an Apostolic Blessing signed by the Pontiff for his 50th birthday last December 1.
The papal blessing, which is invisible to the eye, of course, is represented by a certificate for keepsake. It takes the form of a parchment scroll, hand painted with calligraphy, design, the papal seal and signature.
Issa’s Apostolic Blessing reads: “The Holy Father Francis cordially imparts the requested Apostolic Blessing to Joseph John Issa on the occasion of his 50th Birthday invoking through the intercession of the Virgin Mary an abundance of Divine graces, December 1, 2015.”
As for the sought-after opportunity by Catholics to kiss the ring of a Pope, Issa did have his moment earlier in his life when Pope John Paul 11 visited his family at their Kingston home during a visit to Jamaica.
But Issa’s royal connections don’t end here as, at the wedding of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene (Charlene Wittstock from Zimbabwe) in July 2011, there were two British royal guests, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, Prince Edward and Sophie, who represented HRH Queen Elizabeth 11 and Prince Phillip, both of whom have also visited Issa’s parents at their Kingston family home, and so too has their son Prince Charles.
Prince Albert’s father, Prince Rainier 111, who died in 2005 from a lung infection at the age of 81 years, visited Jamaica in 1967 with his then 2-year-old daughter Stephanie, who was the same age as Issa. Prince Rainier is Europe’s longest-reigning monarch in one of Europe’s oldest dynasties.
Prince Rainier, then 31-years-old famously married 25-year-old American, Hollywood idol Grace Kelly in 1956 and spent their romantic honeymoon cruising along the coasts of Corsica and Sardinia on board a luxury yacht given to them by Aristotle Onassis as a wedding present. Grade Kelly, who renamed her Deo Juvente 11, died in a motor vehicle accident in 1982.
The famous yacht would later be owned by Issa’s father who named her M/Y Zein after one of Issa’s sister. They kept her for about 21 years between 1985 and 2006. And whether by coincidence or not, Prince Albert, who was born at the same that his parents sold the yacht and therefore, never had a chance to get to know her, would later get a second chance when he visited Jamaica and was given a cruise along the north coast by the Issas.
Prince Albert’s 2011 wedding was attended by English supermodel of Jamaican parentage, Naomi Campbell, who has also been involved in singing, acting and voluntary work.
Among other guests who were seen by Pope Francis on the morning of the visit by Prince Albert, was embattled head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, a frequent visitor to Jamaica, which has been under an IMF programme for nearly three years.
Monaco and Jamaica have enjoyed diplomatic relations since around 2006, upon the request of Prince Albert, who is said to love Jamaica and wanted closer relations with his 482-acre city/state, the second smallest independent country after the Vatican, and has a population of 32,409 people and an area of 1.95 square miles. While it is not a member of the European Union, Monaco is closely linked to it via a customs union with France.
Monaco is said to have more millionaires per capita than any other country in the world due to its zero tax on personal income, which has made it a heaven for wealthy “tax refugees” from other European countries. Prince Albert, who has investments in real estate including casinos, is estimated to worth over US$1 billion, which makes him the richest European monarch.