Princess of Monaco
It is the stuff of legend now, but back in May 1955, a very beautiful 26-year-old Grace Kelly attended the Cannes Film Festival. A French magazine thought it would be a good idea for her to meet the Head of State from nearby Monaco; the dashing and brilliant Prince named Rainier. Their engagement was announced later that year and on April 4, 1956, Grace, accompanied by family and friends, set sail from Manhattan’s Pier 84 aboard the S.S. Constitution bound for Monaco.
On April 18, 1956 in a civil ceremony, according to local tradition, She became Princess of Monaco and the following day the nuptials were given a religious blessing at a ceremony in Monaco’s St. Nicholas Cathedral. Her wedding gown - a lavish gift from the MGM Studios - was created by studio designer Helen Rose and featured 125-year-old Brussels lace, yards of silk taffeta and thousands of tiny hand-sewn pearls.
Princess Grace was – and still is – much beloved by Monégasques who quickly "adopted" Her. From small children to the elderly, they all appreciated Her genuine warmth, sincerity and ready smile. She genuinely enjoyed getting personally involved in local events, whether they be festive or charitable, mingling with the population.
She took part in the everyday life of the Principality, distributing gifts in the Palace throne room to the Monégasque children at Christmas time or organizing play days for them with Her own children in the Palace gardens, dedicating streets or inaugurating facilities, visiting the local hospital or simply walking Her children to school and buying fresh produce at the Condamine market.
She instigated many programs and facilities to make life in Monaco even more enjoyable for its residents and visitors: children playgrounds, gardens, flower show, ballet evenings and much more.
(Pictured above right: inauguration of the Monaco Police headquarters- January 1958)
An extraordinary ambassador for Her adopted homeland, Her public life was dedicated to efforts to raise funds and awareness to the plight of the less fortunate while treating all with dignity and respect. In Her name, and often at Her instigation, foundations were established that devoted financial assistance, needed supplies and Her patronage to local and international charitable organizations.
To support Her many charitable activities, Princess Grace revived Monaco's greatest balls and through Her dazzling presence and unforgettable smile, She transformed them into much sought-after festive and cultural events. Under Her presidency, both the Red Cross Gala and the Rose Ball that traditionally opens the Monte-Carlo season quickly took on a new luster and their charitable vocation reached unprecedented levels. Hollywood icons such as Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra or Gregory Peck were regular attendees.
Together with Her husband they transformed the small Mediterranean nation from a seaside holiday hotspot into an international financial, cultural and business center. She 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.
(Pictured below: with the President of Italy on an official visit to Rome - November 1959)