(Editor’s note: As we’ve got five Wednesdays in this month of May, we’re introducing yet another series here on WGA: True Love Tales! This series will feature the true love stories of couples: from celebrities to those we are personally acquainted with. Something that will serve as inspiration, from words of wisdom to secrets of a long-lasting marriage. After all, everyone loves a wonderful love story. True Love Tales will be featured on every fifth Wednesday, when applicable.)
This week, we recap the real-life fairytale of a beautiful commoner (albeit a celebrity as an actress in her own right!) who became one of the most beloved princesses of all time, renowned still today for her style and elegance, and her dashing prince.
It has been said that when Grace, an American actress, was a little girl, she told her sister she wanted to be a princess.
In one of life’s delicious quirks, Grace was actually playing the part of a princess in her movie The Swan when she began her secret (well, not so much now) correspondence with Prince Rainier III, whom she had met in Monaco when she led the US delegation to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 1955.
Reportedly, when once asked what sort of wife he’d like, Prince Rainier smiled and said, “I don’t know – the best.” Well, it certainly does seem the both of them had found what each wanted in the other!
Several months later, the Prince visited Grace and her family in the US, and proposed just three days after that. The engagement rock (and we don’t use this term lightly!) was a stunning 12-carat diamond Cartier engagement ring.
Grace, who lived up to her name with her trademark poise and elegance, perfectly complemented the Prince’s dark good looks. Following the proposal, preparations for what was then dubbed as the “Wedding of the Century” then took off, with the civil ceremony taking place on 18 April 1956, and the Catholic ceremony a day later.
Her wedding gown, which is said to have inspired modern-day princess Kate Middleton’s own stunning frock, included 100 years of silk net, 25 yards of taffeta, century-old lace (how’s that for “something old”?) and thousands of pearls, taking a staggering 36 dressmakers six weeks to make! Her petticoats had tiny blue satin bows – guess those were her “something(s) blue”!
She carried a bouquet of lily-of-the-valley, and her “Juliet cap” headpiece was adorned with orange blossoms.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds cruised the streets of Monte Carlo in a cream and black Rolls Royce before adjourning to a special luncheon at the Palace’s Court of Honour, where they cut their impressive six-tier wedding cake with – get this – Prince Rainier’s sword. Well, you can’t cut a big cake with anything less than a big knife!
It didn’t take long for the royals to start a family – just nine months and four days after their wedding, they welcomed their eldest daughter Princess Caroline into the world, followed by Prince Albert and Princess Stéphanie.
Although Prince Rainier wasn’t keen on sharing his wife’s talents with the world, banning screenings of her films, she found a way of keeping in touch with the world of arts, becoming somewhat of a patron to local artisans.
Tragically, Grace was killed in a car accident in 1982 at just 52 years of age, when she was driving to Monaco with her youngest daughter Stéphanie, who survived the crash.
Her beloved husband, Prince Rainier, passed away in 2005 after ruling for nearly 56 years, making him one of the longest-serving monarchs of modern times. He is now buried beside his wife Grace, at the St Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco.
I promise this isn’t a plug, but if anyone happens to be visiting the beautiful (but chilly!) state of Victoria in Australia in the next two weeks and has a weeknight to spare, the exhibition of Grace Kelly’s dresses in Bendigo would be absolutely amazing to attend! Oh the Balenciagas, Diors and Givenchys!