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.
At the age of 26, the Oscar winning actress Grace Kelly became Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco when she married Prince Rainier III. It was the wedding of the century, watched by 30 million people around the world, at a time when there weren’t televisions in every home. Over 1500 reporters descended on the tiny Principality, whose population was only 23,000 at the time. There were more reporters covering the wedding than had covered the entirety of WWII. The reporters got so out of hand that Prince Rainier finally had to call in the French riot police.
Grace Kelly met Prince Rainier in May 1955 when, attending the Cannes Film Festival; she had agreed to be photographed with the Prince for French magazine “Paris Match”. After a year-long courtship, they married in a civil ceremony in the Palace throne room on April 18, 1956 in the presence of their closest family and friends. The next day, the lavish religious wedding took place at the Cathedral in Monaco in front of 600 guests, including royalty, heads of state and movie stars. All week long, Monaco was caught up in a media frenzy of the Grace Kelly wedding. Thousands of guests and visitors jammed the streets of the tiny Principality while Rainier and Grace were swept through garden parties, formal receptions, gala ballet performances, balls and fireworks.
Grace Kelly influenced fashion to new heights, spreading from the United States to Europe. Before leaving for Monaco in April, she spent two weeks in New York to complete her wedding trousseau, with a Who’s Who of America’s top designers. (Trousseau is an old French word for the articles assembled in preparation for a wedding, honeymoon and the initial months as a newlywed – things like clothing, lingerie, accessories, jewelry, beauty products, bed-linen and so on.) Her accessories, a major part of her ladylike look, included silk chiffon scarves, shoes, hats and gloves. Grace’s accessories became famous in themselves, from the stylish hat that hid her beautiful face as she arrived in Monaco on the SS CONSTITUTION, to the iconic Hermes bag that still bears her name, the “Kelly Bag”. Grace Kelly’s wedding trousseau was certainly fit for a Princess, consisting of around forty day and evening outfits, including two Helen Rose-designed wedding gowns, and a dozen costumes from her final film, High Society, donated by MGM.
Grace Kelly Wedding Princes Grace Wedding Dress
On April 19, 1956, she married Prince Rainier in a legendary wedding dress offered by MGM, created by the studio’s wardrobe department and designed by its costume designer Helen Rose, featuring 125-year-old Brussels lace, yards of silk taffeta and thousands of tiny hand-sewn pearls. It took 6 weeks for 36 seamstresses to make the wedding gown. Even today, the high-necked, long-sleeved dress with a fitted bodice and billowing skirt made of rose point lace, yards of silk faille and taffeta and seed pearls, is one of the most elegant and best-remembered wedding gowns of all time.
Prince Rainier III
Born on May 31st, 1923 in Monaco, Prince Rainier III made His first studies in England, at Summer Fields and at Stowe, then in Switzerland at the college of the castle of Le Rosey in Rolle (the entire school moved to Gstaad every winter). He continued His studies in Montpellier, where he obtained the diploma of graduate-ès-letters. He followed, finally, in Paris, the courses of the School of Political Sciences.
In 1949, Prince Rainier III ascended the Throne to become Sovereign Prince of Monaco. His reign is one of those which transformed the Principality the most regarding policy, diplomatic, international, economic and social fields, and in those of education, sport, health, science, culture and communication. Known as “The Builder Prince”, he changed the face of Monaco, expanding the land by 20%.
Prince Rainier passed away on April 06, 2005 at age 81. He had never remarried after the death of his beloved Grace on September 14, 1982. After her funeral, he delayed her burial by one day to have his grave dug next to hers. Princess Grace and Prince Rainier are both laid to rest side by side for eternity at the Monaco Cathedral.
Grace and Rainier
Together with his Princess, they transformed the small Mediterranean nation from a seaside holiday hotspot into an international financial, cultural and business center. Princess Grace warmly welcomed visitors from all walks of life to her new home on the Mediterranean coast; from Heads of State to Hollywood luminaries, international dignitaries to business travelers, vacationers to top sports stars and entertainers.