Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III featured for magazine article, then fell in love

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Long before Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, there was another lavish fairytale wedding between a European royal and an American actress … when Prince Rainier III of Monaco married Grace Kelly in 1956.

The two were apparently at the top of their worlds before they met: he ascended to the throne on May 9, 1949, at the age of 26, after the death of his grandfather and she had just won the Oscar for best actress for the 1954 musical drama The country girl. But then a chance encounter on a French train turned into an introduction between the unlikely couple – and ultimately led to one of the most high-profile romances of a generation.

Olivia de Havilland’s husband had the idea to organize a meeting between Kelly and Rainier

In the spring of 1955, some of the biggest names in cinema history boarded a Paris-Cannes night train to attend the Cannes Film Festival, an annual tradition since 1946. Twice Oscar winner and Blown away by the wind Actress Olivia de Havilland was in the luxurious Train Bleu at Gare de Lyon with her young husband, Pierre Galante, editor at Paris Match magazine when they found out Kelly was also on board.

During the trip, the Niçois Galante may have thought Paris Match should arrange a meeting between Kelly and the prince. Over dinner he pitched the idea to his editor Gaston Bonheur – and immediately everyone got excited about the possibility. “It’s an idea that struck me [Pierre] for the first time while dining on the train after learning Grace Kelly was another passenger, ”said de Havilland People.

De Havilland was tasked with finding Kelly during the train ride – and eventually found her “on the little platform between the dining car and the next car when I caught up with her to ask if she would agree to meet the prince. Rainier, ”she said. People. “Grace struck me from the first meeting as a rather reserved young woman, in control and well behaved.”

The conversation between the two actresses must have gone well since Kelly was gone, but also gave herself potential. “She immediately agreed but made the very professional condition that such a meeting must first be approved by the studio sponsoring her visit to Cannes: MGM,” said de Havilland.

This stipulation could have been an obstacle because at the time Kelly’s relations with her studio were strained since she had refused to make a film with Robert Taylor. But de Havilland was just glad that his fellow actress didn’t stop the idea immediately.

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III at the Monte-Carlo Ball

A series of unfortunate events nearly derailed Kelly and the prince’s first meeting

When the train arrived in Cannes on Thursday, Galante started making arrangements and arranged a 4 p.m. meeting at Rainier’s Palace the next day. When the information was passed on to Kelly, she declined the invitation. After all, it was a work trip for her and she had an obligation to appear at a cocktail party for her movie. The country girl at 5:30 p.m., according to People.

But Galante didn’t give up so quickly and managed to move the reunion until 3 p.m. – an hour of difference that made all the difference in the world. Kelly accepted the meeting.

As soon as Kelly stepped out of the shower the morning they met, things took a turn for the worse. She discovered the city had no electricity due to a labor strike – and her hair was dripping with rain and she hadn’t ironed her clothes, according to People.

But she got creative: she tied her hair back, dressed it in flowers, and donned an “Easy to Sew” silk flowered taffeta that she had previously worn for McCall’s Pattern, but didn’t have need ironing. Once the elevators were out, she ran down the stairs and met Galante. Of course, the photographers followed.

But more bad luck also followed. They had a minor car accident, apparently with photographers following them. The delay caused them to miss the prince, so instead Kelly visited the 225-room palace without him.

Luckily, Rainier arrived before Kelly left and decided to show him around his own private zoo. The two walked past their entourage, chatting to each other in his garden while Paris Match documented the meeting in photographs.

Kelly had to rush to Cannes for the event which de Havilland was also at. “I assumed things had gone wonderfully well thanks to Grace’s manners upon returning from her presentation to Rainier,” she said. People. “She was in a state of enchantment.”

Rumors circulated that despite her engagement to another man, Kelly was pushing to marry the royal

At the time, Kelly was allegedly engaged to fashion designer Oleg Cassini, according to The hollywood reporter. While Rainier and Kelly were already under such a microscope due to their public figures, little is known about what happened directly after that reunion, although many theories have filled the columns with gossip.

But actions began to speak louder than words, as the New York Times noted, “He went to Philadelphia to spend Christmas vacation with his family. She went to Monte-Carlo to visit him in his pink palace of 200 rooms.

While some have reported that Kelly’s heart was still with Cassini and that family pressure had prompted her to choose royalty, Kelly herself stepped out for a press conference in her hometown of Philadelphia before flying away. for Monaco for her wedding.

“I think just taking the step of marriage is enough to give a girl a little pinch and definitely leave the house to do it, well that’s a very emotional thing,” she said. to journalists. “I do not know how to explain it.” When asked how her skills were in French (the language spoken in Monaco), she replied: “Comme ci, comme ça”, which means “so so”.

Kelly and Rainier had an epic two-day wedding

The wedding of Hollywood’s darling to the prince of Europe’s oldest family took place over two days: a 15-minute civil ceremony in the palace’s throne room on April 18, 1956 (followed by ‘a 25-minute recitation of 140 new titles Kelly now held) and a religious ceremony the next day, in which she wore two custom dresses given to her by MGM by designer Helen Rose, according to People.

The awe-inspiring ceremony took place at Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco with a guest list of 600, including Hollywood heavyweights like Cary Grant and Ava Gardner as well as company names like Conrad Hilton and Aristotle Onassis .

“Mom said it was ‘overwhelming’ – that ‘excited’ or the word ‘delighted’ was not strong enough to express her feelings,” their son Prince Albert said. People. “My dad said it too.

“It was such an amazing deal and it left such a mark on people,” he continued. “What this has meant to people has been amazing. For us… it was our parents who were getting married. But what this means for Monaco, for people around the world, and how their story continues to fascinate people, is something unimaginable.

After her marriage, Kelly stopped acting

As soon as she officially became royal, Kelly gave herself fully and gave up her career in Hollywood. Even though she only made 11 films, including those of 1952 Midi high, 1953s Mogambo, and a trio of Alfred Hitchcock classics Dial M for murder, rear window and Catch a thief – she cemented her reputation as a leading actress in Hollywood’s Golden Era.

“I liked working in my profession – I didn’t like the public appearance of having to be a movie star,” she admitted in her last TV interview with Pierre Salinger for ABC on June 22, 1982, shortly before his tragic death in September. 14, 1982, injuries from a car accident. “Even in Hollywood, my private life was pretty much mine. When I got married my privacy became public and I really had no privacy – and that was an adjustment to be made.

In addition to her royal duties as Princess Grace, the former actress has also devoted herself to raising her three children – Princess Caroline born in 1957, Prince Albert in 1958 and Princess Stephanie in 1965. “Here, the people live each day as it comes a bit. more and they are not in such a rush and in such a hurry, ”she said of her life in Monaco.

This sense of calm was juxtaposed with the stress of the extreme media attention on her life. “If you believe some things, I would have had at least 52 babies by now. For many years, I was still expecting a baby, according to the press. Or that my husband and I are constantly getting a divorce, which is not the case either, ”she said in that last interview. “As for my husband and I, we are public figures and we should expect that. “

As she tried to keep the details of her private life to herself, one thing that was clear was her dedication to her husband – who died in 2005 – since the day she decided to marry him. “I told the prince that we weren’t impressed with the royalty,” she said of her and her father before marrying Prince Rainier, according to the New York Times. “We are in awe of the man. Marriage is not a game of musical chairs with us. We are playing for good. And that’s what she did.


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