Grace Kelly spent her childhood in Pennsylvania, USA. She was born to an affluent Irish-American businessman, multiple rowing champion and German-American athletics coach, sports professor family. Grace Kelly had two sisters and a brother. She was a calm girl of an artistic nature, while her brother and both sisters were sporty and much alike their parents.
Parents didn’t understand the girl’s love and interest for books and art, and resented why their daughter did not like sports and chose to read poems instead. Grace Kelly’s mother grew up in German family, liked discipline and good manners. She trained her children to control themselves, to hide pain and disappointment, to suppress their emotions in public, to disguise effort and to strive for perfection without seeming to do so. Her tutoring was more successful with Grace Kelly than with the others.
Meanwhile her father had a good understanding of business, politics, sports, but had no clue of art and culture. He did not understand his daughter and didn’t agree with her desire to study acting. “It’s a slim cut above streetwalker”, – he said at the time. And only at the end of his life, just before death, he did show her some respect.
Grace Kelly’s career
Although she didn’t receive her family support, Grace Kelly was graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1949. The first year after graduation she spent acting at the Broadway Theatre in New York. Later with her uncle’s help, who worked for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Paramount Pictures, Grace Kelly began her acting career in the film industry. In five years, she has starred in eleven movies, has been acclaimed by critics and has received dozens of awards. She won the Academy Award as the Best Actress for her performance in the drama “Country Girl”. At the age of 26 Grace Kelly was one of the highest paid and most respected actresses in the world at the time.
Grace Kelly’s relationship with men wasn’t successful. She was engaged to Russian fashion designer Oleg Cassini. Grace Kelly’s Catholic parents disapproved of the union because Cassini had been married before.
Rainier III, Prince of Monaco
Prince Rainier III was the son of Princess Charlotte of Monaco and Prince Pierre. He studied in England, Switzerland and at several universities in France. While studying Arts at Monpellier University, he has met an actress Gisele Pascal, has fallen in love and had ten years relationship. Due to Prince’s sister’s intrigues, the relationship broke down.
After the death of Prince Louis, at the age of 25, Prince Rainier III became the Sovereign Prince of Monaco. After the war, long years of financial negligence and major scandals, the country’s treasury was empty. All wealthy European aristocrats who used to gamble at Monte-Carlo Casino rarely visited the country after the World War II. The prince wholeheartedly longed to revive Monaco. He changed the country’s Constitution and began to promote Monaco as a tax haven with great potential for real estate development in order to attract the richest investors and tourists. This was not an easy task for Prince, as French authorities didn’t approve such decisions and brought forward various ultimatums.
There were rumours that Greek billionaire Aristotle Onasis lacked people to spend money in his hotels and casinos, so he advised marrying some charming movie star to make the country famous through the media and this way to make it a centre of attraction. If the country prospers, the reputation returns. Prince Rainier liked this idea. It is said that he talked to Marilyn Monroe about marriage before meeting Grace Kelly, but she refused.
In May 1955, Pierre Galan, a journalist for the magazine “Paris Match”, organized a meeting between Grace Kelly and the Prince of Monaco. The idea was pulled forward by the editor-in-chief to write an intriguing article about two celebrities, and illustrate it with great photos after the photo shoot. The prince of Monaco agreed without consideration. That was a great opportunity to promote Monaco. Grace Kelly had to coordinate her visit with an agency she had a contract.
The day of the meeting was full of surprises. When Grace Kelly arrived in Cannes, her dresses were crumpled. There was no possibility to iron them because the city didn’t have electricity. There was a labour strike. She couldn’t use a hair dryer either, so she tied her wet hair tightly with a wide ribbon and decorated it with artificial flowers. On the way to Monaco, Grace Kelly has been followed by paparazzi. The drivers caused a car accident and Grace Kelly missed her meeting with a Prince. When she arrived at the palace the Prince of Monaco didn’t show up. She waited over an hour and just as she was about to leave, the Prince arrived.
Their meeting lasted an hour. The photographers followed them at every step. Prince showed his private zoo. They watched chimpanzees, their behaviour, because he loved animals. They talked about cinema – Prince Rainier had seen every movie in which she has starred. Recently, Grace Kelly earned an Academy Award nomination as the Best Actress in a Leading Role for her acting in The Country Girl.
Grace Kelly studied French at school, but was not fluent and could only have a very basic conversation. Prince spoke English very well. After their meeting, Grace Kelly left for the Cannes film festival. She sent a short gratitude letter to Prince before leaving France. Rainier was impressed. He was delighted to receive this letter and responded back very quickly. Letter after letter, a warm friendship began. The prince was sending her cute presents.
They have planned a second meeting after seven months of writing letters. On Christmas Eve, Prince arrived in Philadelphia, where Grace Kelly’s parents lived. When Grace Kelly and Rainier met and looked at each other, everybody noticed that they were confused and shy. Grace Kelly’s family were surprised when Prince Rainier gave Grace Kelly Rinaldi’s family ring on Christmas Day. Their engagement took place on New Year’s Eve. Grace Kelly’s friends and family were surprised, as the couple had met just once before the engagement.
The prince of Monaco was obliged to marry and have heirs. His country was on the verge of bankruptcy. One of the most famous actresses with crowd of fans could have been a good opportunity to bring Monaco back to life. Grace Kelly was tired after years of acting. She wanted a family and a man worthy of her. She said the husband must be head of the family, equal to the wife. The prince fully met her requirements. She didn’t want to have a man who would feel a shadow of her and would be called Mr.Kelly at the restaurant.
When Prince Rainier was trying to pursue Grace Kelly, the couple was invited for dinner at Grace Kelly’s sister’s home in Manhattan. Grace Kelly asked him to do dishes and disregarded his royal titles. The prince helped her and fit in nicely in the family.
On the day of their wedding she left for Monaco with her relatives and friends on the Constitution steamer. 110 journalists travelled together. Prince Rainier arrived on his yacht to meet her ship and escorted them to the port. Rainier pulled out the bridge out of his yacht and allowed Grace Kelly and her family to move from the ship onto his yacht.
On the 18th of April, 1956 an early civil ceremony took place in the hall of the Palace of Monaco. The 16-minute civil ceremony had to be repeated twice – the MGM studio had to film it. After the wedding ceremony guests were treated with caviar and lobster. There were around 3000 Monaco citizens attending their reception in the palace. In the evening newlyweds attended a festive ballet performance at the Monte-Carlo Opera. Princess Grace Kelly wore diamond tiara in her hair and a diamond necklace gifted by the people of Monaco.
Although the marriage looked like a show to others, Prince acted like a lover that night. After he escorted the guests, released his bodyguards and the driver, he took Grace Kelly to the coast of the Mediterranean and waited for the sun to rise. They returned to Monaco only early in the morning. The next day their wedding ceremony at St. Nicholas Cathedral had broadcast to 30 million viewers in ten countries. The newlyweds suffered from the heat of spotlights and the shiny glass of cameras from all angles. The ceremony lasted for three hours. Many celebrities attended, but there was not a single member of the Royal family from Europe. The fame of the Grimaldi family has faded after many scandals over the years.
Grace Kelly held a bouquet of lilies of the valley in her hands and looked stunning. Even now, after 65 years, she looks like a fairy tale princess. It is said that the Duchess of Cambridge herself has borrowed from Kelly Grace the idea for her wedding dress. Pearl embroidered wedding dress designed by Helen Rose was a gift from MGM Studio. As many as thirty seamstresses worked on the dress for six weeks. It was sewn from 275 meters of Belgian lace, 90 meters of tulle, 18 meters of silk, 23 meters of taffeta and decorated with orange blossoms.
Rainier wore a gold-embroidered Napoleon Army general uniform style suit. After the ceremony, as they left the church and walked down the stairs towards the car waiting for them, they smiled at each other. The car took them to St. Devote church, where Grace Kelly left the bridal bouquet according to an old tradition. After the lunch, couple left to prepare for the honeymoon and arrived in port just before sunset. They waved to the guests from the yacht and set off on a seven-week honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean.
Grace Kelly didn’t know what her life would be like as a princess. She gave up her US citizenship, her favourite career as an actress and many friends. In Monaco she was surrounded by a foreign language and culture. She had to do fertility testing before the wedding to prove that she was fertile. Grace Kelly also signed an agreement that the custody of her kids will belong to their father without reservation in the case of a divorce. She fell in love with the prince, so she didn’t worry about this point and didn’t even consider the possibility.
She had a hard time negotiating with the palace staff. Grace Kelly didn’t particularly like the dark building of the palace – she wanted to change a lot. Staff could not speak English and they did not like changes. Monaco citizens have complained that Grace Kelly rarely appears in public.
Grace Kelly lived as a celebrity long enough to know how to keep her secrets private from the media without them finding out anything about her personal life. After the wedding this task became impossible. After her death, one of her closest friends, Robert Dornhelm said that she was tired at the end of her life and in moments of weakness she dreamed of walking alone in Paris and not being recognized. “She always told me that she dreamed about the days when no one would care about her and she could be a homeless bag lady wandering through the Metro in Paris.” – he said.
The couple’s first child the Princess Carolina was born on 23rd of January, 1957. The flags of Monaco were raised, and the owners of the restaurants treated the visitors to champagne in vain. Fourteen months later, the people of Monaco joyfully celebrated the birth of Prince Albert.
After the birth of their kids, their rooms were ornated with Disney movie heroes on the walls and a swimming pool was set up in the garden. In 1965, when their youngest Princess Stephanie was born, the new residential wing of the palace construction began. Grace Kelly wanted to create a cozy home. Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier did their best to make Carolina, Albert and Stephanie’s childhood happy.
“But like any marriage it had its sorrows. Grace Kelly had a miscarriage in 1963 and another in 1967 that meant she could have no more children. “Rainier and Grace Kelly were absolutely stricken. They loved babies, they loved their children and loved each other.”(Joan Dale)
The Royal’s loneliness
Grace Kelly was an active woman. While her children were growing up she gave all of her energy to her family, but as the children grew older, she wanted to fill the void. Like many other royal family princesses, she felt lonely and isolated. She mentioned this to Princess Diana in 1981. “I remember meeting Princess Grace and how wonderful and serene she was — but there was troubled water under her, I saw that,” said Duchess Diana. During the event, Grace Kelly spoke to the 19-year-old Diana in the ladies room, where Diana shared her feelings of isolation. “Don’t worry dear, it’ll only get worse,” Grace Kelly answered.
Grace Kelly’s life as an artist
While Rainier was fishing at sea, she was engaged in painting, drawing, sculpture, pottery, embroidery and playing guitar. Princess Grace had loved flowers since her childhood in Philadelphia. As Monaco prepared to celebrate the centennial of Monte Carlo in 1966, Princess Grace, a flower enthusiast, created the Monaco Flower Show. It quickly grew to become an annual international event that in turn led to the founding of the Garden Club of Monaco. She became interested in the creation of pressed flower pictures a bit later. Princess Grace’s works were displayed in an exhibition in June 1977 at the Galerie Drouant in Paris. The show—with 46 individual works priced between $500 and $1,300—sold out. The proceeds she received were donated to various charities.
Before her 50th birthday, Grace Kelly returned to the theatre. In 1976, she made her debut as a poetry reader in Edinburgh. Grace Kelly has received numerous invitations to perform in various countries. The prince helped her to film the short movie “Rearranged” in which he made his debut as an actor. In 1982 after its premiere in Monaco Princess showed movie to ABC TV producers who were interested in publishing, but requested to film additional scenes. However, this movie was never released because she passed away before it was finished.
A simple woman inside
“On a three-week Norwegian cruise with Grace Kelly and the Monaco Royal Family just days before the Princess died in 1982, Grace Kelly had on a mink-lined raincoat. This was the first coat that she had bought with her money from acting and she was still wearing it 30 years later. Princess Grace Kelly kept and was wearing the same maternity dresses for all of her pregnancies. Even when travelling in style, Grace Kelly was happy carrying armfuls of plastic bags. Rainier always teased her about looking like a bag lady when she could afford to carry the finest luggage” – says Joan Dale, her closest friend in Monaco.
In order to make people read, newspapers often write rumours and lies without thinking about how this will affect the hero of the article and his loved ones. Eventually, people start believing in them. Has Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III’s marriage remained strong all along? Grace Kelly moved to Paris when their daughter was going through a difficult divorce. It was a great opportunity to spend some time together. Everybody was talking about the divorce, but Grace Kelly and Rainier denied the rumours at the event marking the 20th anniversary of their marriage. They’ve said they’ve both realized that a couple will have to make compromises in the family after the wedding.
Grace Kelly’s closest friend, Joan Dale, wrote in her diary about Princess Grace Kelly:
“Although she and the Prince have a good marriage, it is difficult for them to find quiet time together, due to their hectic schedules. They complement each other in every way as partners, even to their respective fair and dark looks. Where one leaves off, the other fills in, without an effort or necessary words, whether in their roles and duties or in their personal lives,” she wrote. “Being in the public eye also has its own set of stresses, tensions and difficulties. Sometimes, as with any couple, they have a tug-of-war, but they quickly go on to the resolution of the problem.”
You could see the love in their eyes as they looked and smiled at one another. They giggled and laughed a lot and enjoyed teasing each other. They both loved practical jokes. One night Rainier escorted a stunning brunette to a palace dinner party, setting tongues wagging. Suddenly there was a burst of laughter and a familiar giggle. It was Grace wearing a dark wig.
Rainier, being European, has the final say in the family, but he listens to her wise words before making a decision. The truth is Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier have loved each other from the beginning. He made his courtship at a time when people were still writing letters and wrote to her very poetically. He was an incredibly charming man, though shy, but truly fascinated by his mind and good sense of humour. She really married out of love and although it was hard to quit her career as an actress, her greatest joy was being a loving wife and a mother.
Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier have been married for 26 years and have loved each other until the day of her death. Grace Kelly has often told me that couples who have been married for many years deserve an award. She and Rainier had their problems like everyone else, but once Grace Kelly turned to me and looking straight into my eyes said: You know, Joan, I know Rainier loves me. She said it so kindly that I wiped away a tear. ” – Dale wrote.
On the 13th of September, 1982, on Monday Grace Kelly suffered a small stroke while driving back to Monaco from her country home in Roc Agel. She lost control of her car and drove off the steep, winding road and down the 37 m mountainside. Her daughter Stephanie was in the passenger seat. A medical team transported the Princess to a hospital with brain injuries. After two days in coma and a difficult four hour conversation with doctors, Prince Rainier and the children agreed that her life would not be artificially supported.
More than 400 people came to honour the Princess of Monaco. Among them were actor Cary Grant, American First Lady Nancy Reagan, French First Lady Danielle Mitterrand, Princess Diana of Wales and Empress Farah of Iran. Princess Stephanie was unable to attend her mother’s funeral. During the funeral, Prince Rainier cried with his head down. One of the most famous love stories in the world was over.
After Grace Kelly’s death, Prince Rainier refused to remarry. He established the Princess Grace Kelly Foundation-USA in 1982 in her honour to support fledging American artists. To her memory, the Prince also opened a rose garden and named the most beautiful street in his country after Princess Grace of Monaco. Today, in terms of property prices, the Boulevard Princesse Grâce de Monaco is the most expensive street in the world. Prince Rainier III died in 2005 at the age of 81.
Today, Grace Kelly would be a wealthy grandmother: her son Albert has twins, Princess Carolina has four children, and Princess Stephanie has three children. Princess Carolina’s son Pierre had two children, Grace Kelly’s great-grandchildren.
Aristotle Onassis’s plan worked
Grace Kelly has truly become the attraction force behind Monaco. People from all over the world came to see their wedding venues. Monaco has rebuilt its failed relationships with royal families in many countries. Prince Charles of England invited the Prince of Monaco to his wedding.
When Monaco celebrated Rainier’s 50 years in power anniversary, his homeland was doing $6 billion in tourism, financial services and annual trade. The principality now has no peer on the Mediterranean coast for per capita wealth, quality of public services and concentration of development in such a confined space. After fifty years in power, his plan to revive Monaco worked.