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Monday, November 18, 2013

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco

A few years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Nice, along the beautiful French Riviera. I regretted not making the short trip over to Monaco, since the friends who did marveled over its amazing vistas. 

To Americans, when Grace Kelly made the same trip, but to become "princess of the realm" , it seemed like fantasy had magically become realty. Could a commoner really become royalty,live happily ever after, and be on the Riviera as well?

On April 15,1956 the world prepared for what was called by the press "The Wedding of the Century". America's own, Grace Kelly was marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco, and leaving her actress life to become a princess. Apparently the marriage was a result of practicalities rather than romance.

Grace Kelly led the American delegation to the Cannes Film Festival in April 1955. While there, she was invited to a photo shoot at the palace to meet Prince Rainier III. The prince was shopping for a wife. Apparently because of the Monaco Succession crisis of 1918, Monaco would revert to France if an heir could not be produced by Rainier.

Happy to bid farewell to his bachelor life, in exchange for continuation of his reign, Rainier traveled to Philadelphia in pursuit of Grace Kelly. When asked , "If you were pursuing a wife, what kind would you like?" Rainier smiled and answered, "I don't know...the best." If America were choosing a match for the prince in the mid 1950's, Grace Kelly would undoubtedly have been at the top of everyone's list. She brought style and class to all of her roles, whether on stage or in film, and had a quiet presence about her which commanded respect.

It seemed natural that a prince would choose her from all others to stand by his side and "rule the kingdom". The match was arranged very much in the manner in which royal had been wed for hundreds of years. Kelly and her family paid Prince Rainier III a dowry of two million U.S. dollars, Grace Kelly gave up her acting career, and the palace was completely redecorated to welcome the bride.

On April 4, 1956, leaving from New York City Harbor, Grace Kelly, along with her family, bridesmaids, poodle, and over eighty pieces of luggage boarded the ocean liner SS Constitution bound  for the French Riviera.

Thousands of fans sent the party off for the eight-day voyage, and in Monaco, more than 20,000 people lined the streets to greet the future princess. As Alfred Hitchcock said, he was very happy that Grace had found herself such a good part. Fairy tales can come true...with a little help on the side.