The Azores. A location, a memory
The correspondence exchanged between the two sovereigns, Dom Carlos I of Portugal and Albert I of Monaco, highlights their efforts to bring about a major achievement: a network of meteorological observatories in the Azores.
The value of the project was apparent to Prince Albert I from the time of his first visits to these islands. Starting in 1892, following his initial scientific expeditions, he stepped up his efforts across Europe to convince scientists, diplomats, the managers of underwater cable companies and Portuguese politicians of the importance of this kind of infrastructure. Prince Albert, who wanted the Azores Meteorological Service to be granted international status, began making approaches on this issue starting in early 1898, and wrote to the French Academy of Sciences in Paris. He received zealous and discerning support from Captain Francisco Afonso Chaves, who would go on to be appointed as head of the archipelago’s meteorological service. The Prince’s early visits to Dom Carlos were above all motivated by a desire to obtain the King’s support for this enterprise. While there were differences of opinion about the status and financing of the observatories, they were eventually set up and provided all of the expected services.
On 29 June 1901, the foundation stone for the Horta meteorological observatory was laid on Faial Island in the Azores. It was named the Prince Albert I of Monaco Observatory on 23 September 1923.
“But oceanography is not the only connection that brought me closer to Portugal. There was also the establishment of the meteorological observatories in the Azores, which I worked on with your father, the King, and which, due to their general importance, must be promoted as much as possible [...]”, letter from Prince Albert to King Manuel, Monaco, 25 February 1910, handwritten copy, APM, C.725.