The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague is about to get a lot more regal. Until now, the closest most teams get to royalty is their annual trip to the Spanish capital to face Real Madrid. Real – Spanish for "royal" – received its name and the accompanying crown on its crest from Spain's King Alphonso XIII in 1920.
Now that AS Monaco is eligible to make its debut next season, however, EuroLeague teams may find out what it's like to play in front of actual royalty.
HSH Albert II, Prince of Monaco, is a tried and true AS Monaco fan who has been a regular at the team's games for years. Indeed, the prince is expected to be in attendance on Tuesday when Monaco hosts UNICS in Game 1 of the 7DAYS EuroCup Finals.
The strong connection between the Principality of Monaco and the local sports teams is clear. The crown from Monaco's coat of arms sits atop the basketball team's logo and the players' uniforms are red and white, just like the principality's flag.
Moreover, Prince Albert is an athlete himself. He competed five times as a bobsledder in the Olympic Games and drove in the 1985 Paris-Dakar Rally. He also has a black belt in judo. He is the president of the Monegasque Olympic Committee and the honorary president of both the International Union of Modern Pentathlon and the International Athletics Foundation.
However, when he settles into his seat at Stade Louis II, the prince is just like the rest of the fans around him. He generally dons an AS Monaco scarf and can be seen applauding, cheering and emoting after all the big plays. In the pre-COVID-19 era, HSH Prince Albert would occasionally head down to the locker room to congratulate the team after big wins, too.
Prince Albert isn't the only celebrity fans may see at Monaco games. Monaco-born Formula One racer Charles Leclerc has been to many games, as have former racecar driver Felipe Massa, former AS Monaco football team manager Thierry Henry, AS Monaco football players Stevan Jovetic and Danijel Subasic, and fashion model Jeremy Meeks.
They are just a select few of the many famous locals who have come to see Monaco play in recent years. Now that the team will be competing against the best of the best in the EuroLeague, that list should only grow.