Philippe Junot, former French playboy and currently the husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco, was "surprised, to say the least" to learn of his "official separation" from the princess, his lawyer said yesterday.
A spokeswoman for the royal family announced yesterday the official separation of 23-year-old Caroline, daughter of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace (formerly film Grace Kelly), and Junot, 40, who is currently traveling in Turkey with a 25-year-old Costa Rican brunette, Giannina Facio, whom he reportedly described as his secretary.
Junot's lawyer, Guy Danet, said today that his client was also surprised by "the terms of comminiques issued recently."
According to Danet, "During a long meeting with his wife on Thursday, Aug. 7, which followed their trip together from London to Monte Carlo on Sunday, Aug. 3, they decided to give each other a final deadline for thinking things over, with the agreement that neither would take any new steps before Sept. 1.
"Mr. Junot, who for his part wished to respect this agreement, will refuse to make any public comment before that date, unless untimely statements about his private life force him to break the silence or set the record straight."
Before his departure for Izmir, Turkey, where he plans to remain until Aug. 18, Junot instructed his lawyer to issue the above statement in the event that press articles reported a break or separation from his wife, reliable sources said.
The sources said that on Aug. 7, the couple had spent several hours together, first in Paris and then on an airplane en route to Nice.
Caroline and Junot, who were married in a glittering ceremony in the Mediterranean principality on June 28, 1978, have not been seen together in public since they attended a tennis tournament in May.
But rumor began circulating in France last year that Junot was restless and still the man-about-town. He was seen in Paris nightclubs with other women.
Caroline gradually withdrew to her parents' castle, which juts out into the Mediterranean from the 469-acre principality on the French Riviera.
On Friday, Caroline appeared at Monte Carlo's Red Cross Ball, one of Europe's leading social events, without her husband. On the same day, Junot went to Istanbul with Facio.
"Everything is over with Caroline," Junot was quoted as saying on arrival.
"Caroline has her own private life. Our marriage is no more than a formality. There is nothing holding us together."
The couple's wedding, though not so sumptuous as that of Caroline's parents in 1956, was still the society event of 1978, with a ball for about 800 people and a ceremony in the palace chapel.
The pair, who met in Paris, where Caroline was a student, honeymooned in the Polynesian Islands and in Greece, as guests of shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.