CODY, Wyo. — When Matthias Hofer flew from Austria to vacation in Yellowstone National Park, the last person he thought he’d see in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West on Thursday was the Prince of Monaco.
“I’ve been there (Monaco) once, but I didn’t see him,” Hofer said. “I had to come to Wyoming to see the prince.”
His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco was touring the center at the time, clad in a blue blazer, blue shirt and red tie and followed by an entourage of other blue-suited men, smartly dressed women as well as photographers and videographers.
The prince’s visit marks 100 years since his great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert I, visited Wyoming to hunt with William “Buffalo Bill” Cody in 1913. Prince Albert II will revisit the area where his namesake hunted, dubbed Camp Monaco, on Saturday as well as be the guest of honor at the center’s annual Patrons Ball. The ball is the key fundraiser for the center and, because of the prince’s presence, the event sold out in May – the first time that has occurred in its 37-year history.
The rest of Thursday afternoon was spent honoring ties between the tiny Mediterranean principality, Wyoming and the museum.
During his tour of the museum, the prince formally cancelled stamps with a Camp Monaco logo, which will be available at the Cody Post Office for 30 days.
Dean DiJenno, Cody postmaster, received a commemorative copy of the stamp, as well as copies of those featuring the two princes of Monaco.
Following that small ceremony, he posed next to the stump of a tree that had Camp Monaco carved into it in 1913 by the prince’s artist. The tree later died and the carved section was airlifted to Cody.
Afterward, Albert II met Joe Medicine Crow, who will turn 100 next month.
“Welcome to the Crow Country,” Medicine Crow said. “It’s nice to have you visit the original owners of this country.”
The two stood next to a fir tree that had been planted years ago to symbolize the connection between Wyoming and Monaco.
“You are now in a place given to us by the first maker, you are now standing on sacred ground, walk carefully,” Medicine Crow said. “When you go home, tell your people you have become a friend of the oldest Crow chief.”
Medicine Crow then drummed and sang a song in his native tongue designed to honor visiting chiefs. The two then exchanged gifts.
Afterward the group moved to the Terrace Restaurant next to the Shoshone River, where lunch was served to a gathering of about 170 people including museum board and foundation members, politicians and spouses. Before lunch, Prince Albert was presented a white Stetson hat made by board member Denis Carroll’s company as well as a first-edition tabletop sculpture by Herb Mignery that depicts Prince Albert I astride a horse, leaning over to listen to Buffalo Bill as he points into the distance.
“I cannot thank you enough for this Western hospitality,” Prince Albert told the gathering. “I look forward to a fantastic few days here.”
The prince said the sculpture symbolized the “great legacy” of his great-great-grandfather that he is trying to fulfill. He also said he brought another cowboy hat that he would wear on his ride on Saturday near Pahaska Tepee so that he wouldn’t dirty the white one he was presented.