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Women of Royalty
Princess Grace of Monaco
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The Ignored Child

           

Princess Grace of Monaco was born Grace Patricia Kelly on November 12, 1929, to John Brendan Kelly and Margaret Majer Kelly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father a rich contractor and an Olympic gold medal winner for sculling and her mother an equally athletic and attractive woman, Grace grew up in an Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia on Henry Avenue with her three siblings Margaret, Elizabeth, and John (Kelly Drive in Philadelphia is named after John, who grew up to be a Philadelphian councilman). Her parents holding a place in Philadelphia society, Grace also spent her time in summer homes up and down the East Coast. As a child Grace often found herself ignored. Her siblings did not treat her well Elizabeth even once locked Grace in a cupboard but Grace took on her name well and did not stoop to the childish antics of her brother and sisters. Grace was a shy girl and was considered the ugly-duckling of the family. By the age of 12 in 1942, Grace began to wear glasses, which added onto her odd appearance. That same year, Grace began to take a large interest in acting. Although her parents disapproved, acting ran in her family. Grace's uncle, Walter Kelly, was a stage actor, and one of her other uncles, George Kelly, a playwright and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, was Grace's inspiration to be an actress. She starred in the play Dont Feed the Animals, a production by a local theater group. But while Grace's parents were impressed with her acting skills they assumed that Grace was just going through a phase and began to focus on the other children of the family especially John. And so for the next few years Grace began attending a school in Germantown, Pennsylvania, as she slowly moved into the shadows of the family. By the time of her graduation in 1947 and her enrollment in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, her parents had completely ignored the fact that she was going off to college.

Grace's parents also decided to ignore the pleas from Grace that she wanted to become an actress. By the time she was accepted into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts Grace had talked with her father who sternly asked if Grace was ready to pay the price of stardom. She eagerly wanted to become an actress and answered yes. For the next few years in Manhattan Grace put her skills to work modeling for magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Redbook, including covers, and making appearances on shows.

 

Hollywood Icon

 

In 1949, Grace made her debut on Broadway in the production of The Father. After her graduation from American Academy of Dramatic Arts Grace made a move to Hollywood, California, where she landed a movie role in the 1951 movie Fourteen Hours. Although it was a minor part, Grace received attention for her role and landed her first major movie role in the 1952 picture High Noon, in which she played the young bride of a sheriff played by Gary Copper. Grace's next movie was entitled Mogambo, in which she had to sign onto MGM and star with Clark Gable. This movie, set in the Kenyan jungle, chronicles the love triangle of Grace Kelly, Clark Gable, and Ava Gardener. For this film Grace received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress but lost the Oscar to Donna Reed.

Around this same time the classic film master Alfred Hitchcock found an interest in Grace's elegance and beauty. For the next few years Grace starred in a few of Hitchcocks films, including Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), and To Catch a Thief (1955). Co-starring with some of the biggest names in Hollywood and starring in major films now reserved Grace a place as one of Hollywoods icons of the 1950s.

1954 proved to be a busy year for Grace. Besides starring in Dial M for Murder and Rear Window, she filmed Country Girl, for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and won. 1954 also brought about the films Green Fire and The Bridges of Toko-ri.

Although she had only been in the film industry for four or five years, Grace was already a huge sensation. Beautiful, popular, and elegant, Grace had already been linked to the actors, designers, and celebrities Clark Gable, Ray Milland, William Holden, Oleg Cassini, and Jean-Pierre Aumont before she had an affair with Bing Crosby on the set of The Country Girl. This movie brought about two omens in Graces life. As she drove along the Moyen Corniche on set in the south of France she came upon a sharp turn and viewed a large garden. This garden was Prince Rainier of Monaco's. The sharp turn would later be the spot where Grace would plummet to her death. 

To receive her Academy Award, Grace had to fly from the French Riviera to America. Afterwards, she was invited back to France again to attend the Cannes Film Festival. Uneasy to attend she was finally persuaded to attend because The Country Girl was being shown there and because she desperately loved the French Riviera, where Cannes is located. At the festival, Grace was introduced to Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

 

Princess of Monaco

 

Prince Rainier was born Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi on May 31, 1923. The only son of Prince Pierre-Marie-Xavier-Antoine-Melchior of Monaco and Princess Charlotte Louise Juliette of Monaco, Rainier grew up with his sister, Princess Antoinette, before attending school in England, France, and Switzerland throughout his academic career. Upon the breaking out of World War II, Rainier entered the French army as an artillery officer and became a Second Lieutenant. Because of his courageness he was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the rank of Chevalier in the Legion of Honor. On May 9, 1949, Rainier's grandfather, Prince Louise II, the ruler of Monaco, died. Rainier became Prince Rainier III after his mother renounced her rights to the throne in favor of her son. Unmarried, Rainier faced dangers as the prince of Monaco, for if he went childless the principality of Monaco would be ceded to France. He found a six-year love interest in the French film star Gisèle Tallone but a test found her infertile, and so Rainier decided not to marry her (Gisèle Tallone later had children in another marriage). And then he met Grace Kelly.

Upon their meeting at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955, Grace Kelly seemed to be the perfect match for Prince Rainier. Catholic, unmarried, and fertile, Grace would ensure that Monaco would not cede to France if she married Rainier and they produced children.  Smitten with her, Rainier invited Grace to his La Rocher palace where he intended to show his bravery by putting his hand into a panthers cage at the grounds zoo. By that summer Grace was preparing for her role as Princess Alexandra in The Swan. That winter Grace was about to become a real princess and was engaged to Prince Rainier.

By the beginning of 1956, Grace was filming High Society, also starring her past love Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. She also filmed her last feature film a remake of Philadelphia. A musical comedy, Grace received a Gold Record for her rendition of True Love with Bing Crosby. After filming was finished for High Society, Grace prepared to leave America and set sail for Monaco, where she would marry Prince Rainier in April. Already a star, Grace now received even more momentum as her fairy-tale like marriage made headlines across the world. Christened the Wedding of the Century, Grace's marriage was rivaled only by that of John and Jacqueline Kennedy's.

On April 4, 1956, Grace and 50 of her family and friends boarded the USS Constitution and Grace said goodbye to her homeland. By the 12th Grace's journey was halted. Prince Rainiers yacht was sent out to the USS Constitution to bring Grace to her new home. Eight days later, Prince Rainier III and Grace Patricia Kelly were married in a civil ceremony in the throne room at the palace in Monaco, a requirement by Monegasque law. The next day the real wedding took place. In her Helen Rose wedding gown made with twenty-five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk net, 125-year-old lace, and thousands of pearls, Grace and Rainier married in Monacos Cathedral. Her wedding ring a 10 Karat diamond, Graces wedding was considered a spectacular event. After the wedding a garden party took place at the palace, which was attended by many of Grace's Hollywood friends. To welcome their princess, the Monegasque people gave Grace a Rolls Royce, a diamond necklace, and earrings. By 5 PM Grace and Rainier had left for their honeymoon on Rainier's yacht.

 

Family Life & Social Life

 

Upon their return, Grace found that she was pregnant and the couple's first child, Princess Caroline Louise Marguerite, was born on January 23, 1957. The next year, on March 14, 1958, Prince Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre, Marquis des Baux was born. Princess Stephanie Marie Elisabeth, Graces last child, was born on February 1, 1965. Rainier and Grace both loved their children and Rainier was found to be the one who less disciplined the children. Grace now had a family and had since mended ties with her own family, which were mildly severed years before, especially with her mother. In fact, most vacations were spent in Philadelphia with Grace's family.

As Monaco's princess, Grace had been forced to give up her life as an actress, much to her dismay. Although she tried to persuade Rainier to allow her to make movies, he refused, saying the Monegasque people would not be happy with their princess in Hollywood. And so Grace turned to her role of being the princess of Monaco. She headed The Red Cross, sponsored a Christmas children's ball every year for the children of Monaco, became the president of AMADE, which helped medical needs in underdeveloped countries, and took a part in La Leche League, an organization designed to sponsor breast feeding. She created the Monte Carlo ballet, the Bals de la Rose, the Monaco Garden Club, and took an interest in art.

         But the pressures of being a princess were overwhelming. Grace did not know French, the official language of Monaco, and was often very depressed at not being able to return to Hollywood. All her life she had wanted to be an actress and it had been so quickly torn from her. Although their marriage was a happy one and a faithful one, Grace and Rainier never did truly love one another and their union had had more political advantages than personal advantages. The couple's children were getting out of hand too. Princess Caroline was constantly appearing in magazines and tabloids with numerous boys at discos and parties. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol, Caroline was an embarrassment to the royal family. Shockingly, Caroline married a man name Phillipe Junot in 1978. As Grace predicted, the marriage did not last two years. Caroline was no longer interested in education and simply spent her life partying in Paris. Prince Albert was a more studious child, furthering his education in America. Princess Stephanie was a smart child but was a whiny girl who always got her way and was difficult to get along with.

As Grace drifted from her children she found harbor with poetry. Attending poetry readings and recitals, Grace was also sparked with feelings to return to Hollywood, though she was now almost 50. Eventually Grace appeared in a movie where she talked about the Monaco Garden Club and also narrated a movie called The Children of Theater Street, both directed by Robert Dornhelm. The movie she appeared in was not released until 1986.

 

The Unthinkable

 

Tragedy finally struck in 1982. On September 13, 1982, while en route from Roc Agel, France, to Monaco, Stephanie and Grace's car zigzagged and was found to be speeding at 110 miles an hour. The car went over the cliffs of the road D37, a road infamous for its snaking route leading into Monaco. As the car rolled down, Stephanie finally found her way out of the car with a few injuries but her mother, Grace, suffered a mild stroke and was found unconscious in the wreckage. Residents of the area helped the two princesses and an ambulance brought to the two to Princess Grace Hospital. The entire family gathered there as Grace was operated on and hooked up to oxygen tanks. The next day, Prince Rainier had Graces support cut off and the princess died. On for view at Monaco's Cathedral, Princess Grace was interred at St. Nicholas Cathedral on September 18, 1982 as the world watched in tears. Another royal death and funeral would mirror Grace's, one's that attended the funeral and openly wept Princess Dianas.

The issue of who was driving the car that fatal day is still cotroversial. Belief goes that either Grace was driving (which is remarkable considering her bad eyesight and the fact of her age and that she ws always considered a horrible driver even by the most daring men of Hollywood) and the accident happened as a result of her stroke or that Stephanie was driving and was under the influence of alcohol. The mystery remains unsolved.

Today Grace's memory still lives on as well as her beauty, elegance, fairy-tale life, and reign as a Hollywood icon. Prince Rainier III still rules as prince of Monaco. It was he that decreed that all of Grace's films be banned in Monaco.