It was a romance that captivated the world, a marriage that kept us entranced. They were two incredibly powerful people coming together to lead a country into the future. She was a world-famous actor who rose from up from the suburbs. He was the playboy prince of a tiny European principality who always knew what a luxurious life looked like.
Her name was Grace Kelly. His name was Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi, or simply Rainier III. They met in France, courted for a short while, got engaged in Philadelphia and whisked themselves back to Monaco — the aforementioned principality whose throne Rainier ascended to in 1949 — to spend their lives building up the glories of their tiny nation and remaining as glamorous as you might imagine. They had three children who would go on to create families that still mingle in the upper echelons of wealthy society. Kelly put her acting career on an indefinite hiatus, devoting herself to charity, motherhood and helping her husband.
On the occasion of what would have been their 62nd wedding anniversary, let’s take a look at the romance of Prince Rainier and Kelly once more. You may find there are facts the history books forgot to mention.
1. Grace Kelly’s family paid a dowry
Kelly’s family was fairly well to do after gaining a substantial amount of wealth from Kelly’s father’s business, but the dowry the family reportedly had to pay Rainier was exorbitant by anyone’s standards. According to Vogue, Kelly’s father claimed this was ridiculous — “My daughter doesn’t have to pay any man to marry her” — but eventually forked the cash over.
2. Grace Kelly made Prince Rainier do dishes during their courtship
As revealed in the book Grace Kelly: Hollywood Dream Girl, Kelly didn’t let Rainier’s royal status go to her head. In fact, during their courtship, Kelly’s sister, Lizanne Kelly LeVine, recalled one particularly memorable dinner at which Kelly was treating Rainier like a regular Joe. “[My husband] and I were at our own little apartment, and we asked them over for dinner. [Rainier] fit in very well — even helped with the dishes. Rainier, when we first met him, I think might have been a little shocked with us when we’d say ‘Come on, Rennie,’ you know. But he fit into the family beautifully.”
3. Prince Rainier almost courted another famous Hollywood blonde
Had history gone a different way, Rainier might have romantically pursued another famous Hollywood blonde: Marilyn Monroe. According to Vogue, Rainier’s friend (and future second husband of Jacqueline Kennedy) Aristotle Onassis suggested the playboy prince pursue Monroe. While Monroe reportedly had no interest in the prince romantically, Vogue implies she might have still pursued the relationship for the status it would have afforded her. That said, when Kelly and Rainier married, Monroe sent Kelly a telegram that read, “I’m SO happy you found a way out of this business.”
4. Grace Kelly & Jackie O’s lives overlap in more than one way
Vogue notes that Kelly and Kennedy’s lives intersected in unusual ways more than once. In addition to Jackie’s soon-to-be second husband being a friend of Rainier’s and attempting to get involved in his romantic life, Kelly actually could have ended up the wife of another famous man who was decidedly not Rainier. Long before her royal wedding, Kelly was engaged to fashion designer Oleg Cassini, who worked with Kennedy frequently.
5. In a way, you can thank the Cannes Film Festival for their meeting
Kelly met Rainier while she was in France in 1955 as part of the American delegation to the Cannes Film Festival. Kelly was partaking in a photo shoot that Rainier attended, and it was all over from there. Interestingly, the couple had a rather short courtship (a little over a year) before heading to the altar.
6. Grace Kelly always chose her sovereign duties over her film career
High-profile film director Alfred Hitchcock famously tried to reel Kelly back in to take the lead role in Marnie in the early ’60s (this moment in Kelly’s life is part of the Nicole Kidman-led drama Grace of Monaco), and she seriously considered it for a short while. The palace of Monaco even announced she would be taking the role and then officially retiring. However, word spread that the titular role, which would see Kelly playing a thief and woman struggling with mental health issues, might not be the most becoming one for her to play. In addition to the roots she laid down as a wife and mother, Kelly soon gave up the role and another Hitchcock ingenue, Tippi Hedren, got the role instead.
7. There may have been some unhappiness in their later years
Given the nature of their very public, very politically charged position in the world, there were unthinkable pressures put on Rainier and Kelly. There were allegations that when Kelly sought out the comfort of an apartment in Paris she kept for herself, she would tell friends sometimes that she wished she was just a bag lady, likely because of the alleged tension between Kelly and Rainier toward the end of their marriage, although we don’t really have any evidence of this from the couple themselves.
Who could have known these two would put a relationship in the history books that still fascinates us this much? Like any marriage, Rainier and Kelly’s was never smooth sailing. But you’ve gotta admit, when things we good, they looked pretty darn good.