The story of former Hollywood star Grace Kelly’s crisis of marriage and identity, during a political dispute between Monaco’s Prince Rainier III and France’s Charles De Gaulle, and a looming French invasion of Monaco in the early 1960s.
Princess Grace (Kelly) died on Sep 14, 1982 after a tragic car crash on the windy roads as she was driving from her country home to the Palace of Monaco. Even in an age before Twitter, social media and even the Internet, news of Princess Grace’s death spread around the word as people everywhere felt shock and disbelief. Unlike the portrayal in the 2014 Nicole Kidman movie “Grace of Monaco”, Princess Grace was not a reckless driver … even in the early years. Cary Grant recalls her driving very tamely – only making him nervous because she was not wearing her glasses when they filmed Grace Kelly driving in the hills above Monaco during Alfred Hitchock’s “To Catch a Thief”.
Ultimately it was determined that Princess Grace died of a brain hemorrhage – a stroke that impeded her ability to maneuver the car.
To Catch a Thief – Grace Kelly – Grace of Monaco
Car Crash of Grace Kelly: Death & Funeral
The Car Accident
It was shortly after 10 am Monday morning of September 13 when the car Princess Grace was driving missed a curve and catapulted down a cliff. It is a road that Princess Grace often travelled yet not often drove herself, but that morning she dismissed her chauffeur as there were dresses and boxes in the back seat. With her daughter Princess Stephanie as her passenger (as witnessed by a police officer as they drove by), Princess Grace set out on what should have been a relatively short drive in her beloved 11-year-old metallic green Rover 3500.
The Car Crash
Photos of the car crash show the severe state of the accident after dropping more than 100 feet over the retaining wall. These car crash pictures make one wonder how anyone could have survived this horrific accident. In all the confusion, initial rumors spread that Princess Stephanie was at the wheel despite numerous eyewitness accounts that did not see her driving.
These rumors were fueled by the fact that Princess Stephanie had to escape from the car through the driver side window because the passenger door was impassable. Princess Stephanie miraculously survived the accident with a fractured vertebra in her neck.
Although there were initial reports Princess Grace was out of danger, suffering a broken thigh bone, collar bone and rib injuries, her head injuries were quite severe and ultimately she died from a second brain hemorrhage.
This is a map image of the Princess Grace crash car site from above showing the road itself. (and this was not the same road that was filmed during To Catch a Thief). The following is a re-enactment (beware it is graphic).
Princess Grace Funeral
On Saturday Sep. 18, 1982 heads of state, celebrities, royals and close to 100 million television viewers said good-bye to Grace Kelly the Hollywood icon, and the legendary Princess Grace. The final resting place of Her Serene Highness is the same cathedral in which she had her fairy-tale wedding to Prince Rainier in 1956.
Remembering Grace Kelly
Grace Patricia Kelly
Born: November 12, 1929, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In her last interview two months before Princess Grace died, she was asked how she would like to be remembered. She answered, “I would like to be remembered as a decent human being, and a caring one”.
Those that want to get to know the real Grace, can now read the personal account shared in “My Days with Princess Grace of Monaco” through candid photos, letters and diaries that reveal her true character. You will experience what her life, family and relationship with Prince Rainier were really like, at home at the Palace of Monaco, at their private retreat at Rocagel, and on family vacations. The last chapter is a rare glimpse into what her final days were like, on the last family vacation just one month before she died.
This archival report brings you back to one of the saddest days in the Principality of Monaco – and around the world. September 18, 1982 brought to Monaco representatives of many governments and royal families, including Princess Diana, U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan, and Danielle Mitterrand (wife of the French President) – all sitting side-by-side.
The World Mourns
Millions mourned… and the New York Times (John Vinocur) records it for posterity.
FOR THE PRINCESS’S FAMILY, THE PARTING IS FORLORN
MONTE CARLO, Monaco, Sept. 18— Princess Grace of Monaco was brought back by her family today to the cathedral where she was married and her children were baptized.
Looking devastated with sadness, her husband, Prince Rainier, wept again and again as he and Prince Albert and Princess Caroline led the funeral cortege through the pink and ocher streets of the principality to a funeral mass at the Romanesque-style cathedral.
The dark wood coffin of the Princess, who died at the age of 52 on Tuesday after an automobile crash, was later placed in the Chapel of the Princes near the altar where she, as Grace Kelly, the film actress, was married to the Prince 26 years ago.
A palace spokesman said that her interment in the family crypt would take place in a few days.
Prince Appears Crushed
In the Mediterranean sun, there were few of the usual somber props of mourning. Instead, the soft blue sky, the pastel walls of the Prince’s palace, the red-plumed helmets of Monaco’s carabineers, the backdrop of palms and cactus and bright water, gave the blacksuited figures of the funeral party a vivid, almost wild sadness.
Prince Rainier, now 59 years old, his hair white, his face thickened, seemed crushed and numbed. His head hung and when he raised his eyes, tears were on his cheeks. At one point in the funeral ceremony, while a part of Samuel Barber’s soaring Adagio for Strings was being played, Prince Albert, who is 24, covered his face in his black-gloved hands. Princess Caroline, who wept, turned toward her father, who sat next to her by the altar, but the Prince, partly slumped, eyes half-closed, did not raise his head.
The sorrow was affecting, intense, real. In a tiny place, once best known for a casino and still, it feels, not always taken very seriously, the family tragedy seemed terribly cruel. ‘United in Pain’
”We are united in pain,” Archbishop Charles Brand of Monaco said in his homily. He stressed the senselessness and inexplicable nature of what he called ”the rupture of the destiny of this humanly exceptional, religiously exceptional person.”
The accident that led to the Princess’s death, he said, ”results in stupefaction, and provides no answers to the questions of life, suffering, separation and death.”
The Princess’ Roman Cathlolic faith, the Archbishop said, ”modeled, indeed sculpted, not only the public person, but the deep personality of her being.” Those who share her faith, he went on, would share her assurance in the ways of God.
The funeral brought representatives of many governments and royal families to the principality. The mourners were placed so that three of the most striking of them, all women, sat side by side. Nancy Reagan, wife of the President, who knew the Princess when both were actresses, sat between Danielle Mitterrand, wife of the French President, and the Princess of Wales, wife of the heir to the British throne. White Banner on Coffin
The funeral procession began at 10:30 A.M. with a bugle flourish. The Princess’s bier was brought from the Palatine Chapel in the west wing of the palace where the family lives and carried to an interior courtyard.
The cortege, led by a priest holding a mahogany cross tipped in gold, then left the palace through its main gate, which was draped in black velvet, and entered the Place du Palais, paved in pink stone. The coffin, covered with a white banner bearing the arms of the Grimaldi family, was carried by 20 members of a local penitent society, dressed in white robes with black capes edged in red, toward the cathedral 600 yards away.
Prince Rainier and Prince Albert, both in black tail coats, and Princess Caroline, a black mantilla covering her head, followed with slow steps. Residents, and some tourists who had gathered in the square, fell still as the procession entered the narrow Rue Colonel Bellando de Castro, which leads to the white marble cathedral.
The cathedral’s steps were covered in flowers, and its bell tolled slowly. The coffin was placed outside the cathedral, and as some of the 800 mourners took seats inside the Prince and his children stood next to the coffin, their grief stark in the sunlight. Service ‘a Simple Requiem’
The service itself, described by the palace as a simple requiem, began with the invocation, ”We weep for our good Princess, Her Serene Highness Princess Grace. Saviour, Saviour, we are sure You are calling her to You and to Your glory.”
The mass was accompanied by four selections from Bach and a part of Haydn’s Fourth Symphony, as well as the extremely dramatic passages from Barber. A crownlike canopy of black cloth had been hung over the altar from the cathedral’s highest point; below it pink roses were placed on the Princess’s bier.
The Gospel reading was from John, ”In my Father’s house are many mansions…. I go to prepare a place for you.” The interment was originally scheduled to take place after a second mass offered late this afternoon for citizens of the principality. The burial ceremony was to have been limited to immediate members of the family, but the public mass, at which Prince Rainier, Prince Albert and Princess Caroline were present, ran behind schedule.
The palace spokesman, Nadia Lacoste, said that the Prince had decided that the coffin would be tranferred from behind the altar of the Chapel of the Princes to the family crypt below sometime early next week. Prince in Total Sadness
Later, after the mourning family had left the cathedral, a friend of the Prince described him as experiencing ”one of the most deep, most total sadnesses.” He said the Prince had been extremely distressed in the last two months by the sudden deaths of two of his best friends, and that the blow of his wife’s fatal accident ”was as much as anybody can be expected to stand.”
The friend also said that although Princess Stephanie, who was in the car when it crashed, was recovering from a hairline fracture of a vertebra, she was being confronted with ”psychological problems you would not wish on any kid.” The Princess, who is 17 years old, remains hospitalized in the Princess Grace Polyclinic where her mother died.
Among the group of mourners were the two sisters of Princess Grace, Margaret Conlan and Elizabeth Levin, and a brother, John B. Kelly. They were accompanied by Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman Jr., a relative of the Kelly family, and Gov. Dick Thornburg of Pennsylvania.
There was one chief of state at the funeral, the President of Ireland, Patrick J. Hillery. The French Government was represented by its Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson and its Minister of Culture, Jack Lang. Among the other mourners were the former Queen of Greece, Ann Marie, Prince Bertil of Sweden, Princess Benedikte of Denmark, a papal representative, Archbishop Jacques Martin, Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte of Luxembourg, Prince Philip of Liechtenstein, the Grand Duke Vladimir of Russia’s old Czarist nobility, and the Duke of Aosta, representing the former Italian royal family. Other mourners included Cary Grant, the movie actor, and Jackie Stewart, the former motor racing champion.
Photos and Images Funeral & Death of Grace Kelly
Words may be foreign but photos and images are universal: