A TRIBUTE TO GRACE OF MONACO IN WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HER 90th BIRTHDAY
by Susanna Giusto
MONACO. The treasury of the Principality of Monaco has issued new silver crown coins which remember what would have been the 90th birthday of Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco, born 12 November 1929. Beloved and sadly missed, the warm and generous spirit of the princess is still very much in existence in the Principality. The image on the coin’s obverse side is based on a photograph taken of Princess Grace by the famed photographer Yousuf Karsh in 1956. The princess, then 27, is shown wearing the Van Cleef & Arpels diamond tiara crafted in platinum and set with pear-shaped diamonds, marquise-shaped diamonds, and round diamonds weighing 77.34 carats; and a Cartier Necklace crafted in platinum and diamonds, which she received as a wedding gift. The reverse side includes the design of a rose, the princess’s favourite emblem.
She was 52 and beautiful at the time of her tragic death, 37 years ago on September 13, 1982 . To pay tribute to the unforgettable Princess, we have summarised for our readers an article published in 2017 by the British Daily Mail on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of Her untimely death in 1982 that was deeply mourned by Monegasques, Americans, and many admirers around the world. HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco was interviewed by journalist Graham Besinger. Speaking on in depth, HSH Albert of Monaco, now 61, called his mother’s death ‘traumatic’ for the royal family, particularly for his sister Stephanie, who was with their mother at the time of the car accident that claimed their mother’s life. Prince Albert’s sister Princess Stephanie, now 54, suffered multiple injuries in the crash, including broken ribs, three cervical fractures and a shattered collarbone.
The prince said: ‘Well, it took a very long time for her to recover from this and it was a very painful recollection for her, and it took a number of years for her to come to terms with that. You know, just the pain of being in that car with our mother and not being able to pull her out or to have a different outcome. She was injured, of course also, but I think it’s a traumatic experience and it would be for anybody.’ Prince Albert said his late father Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, who died in 2005, was a changed man following the death of his wife. ‘It was pretty obvious that he was deeply affected and he wasn’t quite the same man as he was before the accident,’ Albert confessed. To help his children, Prince Rainier turned to them to deal with their own grief over their loss, admitting it took him years to grieve properly himself. The prince revealed that his father was never the ‘same man’ after the loss. Albert said: ‘It always takes a while you recover thanks to your other family members, to your friends, to the people who are dear to you and provide comfort. It also takes years to really fully come to terms with that.’ On the morning of September 13 1982 Albert, aged 24, had been eating breakfast with his older sister Caroline when their father came in and told them there had been an accident – it occurred when Princess Grace was driving home from the family’s Roc-Agel villa, situated in the French village of La-Turbie, to the Monaco palace with Stephanie.‘
Basically he said that we had to go down the hospital because mom and Stephanie had an accident. I didn’t think twice about it and went down with him, Caroline as well, and of course it was a very shocking moment,’ the Prince explained. ‘One where you’re not sure what to think. Of course you think that things are going to improve and it’s not as bad an accident as you thought it was so… those few hours there were very tense and very emotional.’ He added: ‘It wasn’t until later that evening that it became apparent that the outcome was not going to be a good one.’ The reigning monarch of the Principality of Monaco describes himself as a “private’ person”. The prince also spoke about life in the public eye, saying it can be a case of having to ‘grin and bear it’ during public engagements. ‘Gradually, and around the age of probably four or five, you kind of notice that you’re in a bit of a different family, and people have different expectations of you, people making a fuss over you. It’s not always easy to come to terms with. It still isn’t in many ways,’ he said. ‘I consider myself a private person most of the time so it’s hard to perform in a very public situation and have to do… public appearances and speeches depending on what it is and what the situation is. And of course you get to meet great people. I was quite young when I tried and figure my way around, and I sometimes had trouble bearing the burden, but there are things you have to do and you have to grin and bear it and push forward. ‘You kind of learn early on to say you don’t have a choice. You could just walk away and have your own life but that would be, first of all, not respecting what my father and mother did for this country. Today, and first of all, I am profoundly respectful of my the moral obligation that there is to lead this nation and to be the head of the Principality.” The moments of the drama that occurred 37 years ago have been described thousands of times by the media and there have been rumors about Stephanie at the wheel.
The gendarmerie captain who conducted the investigation into the actress’s accident refutes the conspiracy theories surrounding the accident, showing the extract from the investigation file where it is clearly written that Princess Grace was driving the car. On September 13 1982, Grace wants to accompany Stephanie to Paris, where she completes her studies. The princess’s Rover is filled with suitcases. Not to wrinkle her dresses, Grace sets them on the back seats. The car now can only have two passengers, and the princess dismisses the driver. Since a minor collision, the Princess is extremely cautious and slow. As she leaves the Grimaldis’ property and enters the road La Turbie-Monaco, a truck doubles the car. The truck driver noticed nothing abnormal until negotiating the second hairpin curve of the D37. He sees “the Rover doing many zigzags, hitting rocks, before regaining speed and plunging into the void and crashing 120 feet down” near the parking lot of a villa. The local residents rush to the bedside of the shattered car. Neither Grace nor Stephanie wear a seat belt. Grace is inanimate; Stephanie, slightly injured, is able to pull out from the driver’s side after several witnesses have torn off the door. To understand what may have caused Grace to lose control of the Rover, it is necessary to rely on the observations of the neurologists who examined her after the accident. Experts had detected two lesions in the princess’ brain: a first in depth is a sign of an attack, and a second of traumatic origin resulting from a physical shock. The first attack would have caused a brief loss of consciousness, enough to be fatal to the unforgettable Hollywood movie star, who became Princess of Monaco after marrying Rainier III in April 1956.
Part of this article was originally published at Daily Mail
PERSONALITIES OF MONACO BURIED IN MONACO CATHEDRAL
Lord Jean II (1468-1505); Regent Augustin Grimaldi (1482-1532); Lord Lucien I (1487-1523); Lord Honoré I (1522-1581); Lord Charles II (1555-1589); Lord Hercule Grimaldi di Monaco (1562-1604); H.S.H. Honoré II (1597-1662); H.S.H. Louis I (1642-1701); H.S.H. Antoine I (1661-1731); H.S.H. Louise-Hyppolite (1697-1731); Chevalier de Grimaldi (1697-1784); H.S.H. Honoré IV (1758-1819); H.S.H. Louise-Fèlicité d’Aumont-Mazarin (1759-1826);H.S.H. Honoré V (1778-1841); H.S.H. Florestan I (1785-1856); H.S.H. Marie Caroline Gibert de Lametz (1793-1879); H.S.H. Charles III (1818-1889); H.S.H. Antoinette de Mérode-Westerloo (1828-1864); H.S.H. Louis II (1870-1949); H.S.H. Albert I di Monaco (1889-1922); H.S.H. Grace Kelly (1929-1982); H.S.H. Ranieri III (1923-2005).