Glamorous & and Incredible

The day Grace Kelly met Prince Rainier of Monaco for the first time, started out terribly. The American actress had washed her hair only to realize a labor strike had caused a power cut in Cannes, France, where she was staying at the Carlton Hotel. Without electricity, she couldn't dry her hair or iron her clothes. She would have to use natural lighting to apply her makeup. So she improvised, putting on her one unwrinkled dress and pulling her hair back and adorning it with flowers. She hurried downstairs, without the aide of elevators, where her new acquaintances waited to accompany her to the Prince's palace.

Then, a minor accident with the car behind them made the group late. The prince wasn't there when they arrived; they toured his 225-room palace without him. Prince Rainier, however, made it back in time to take his guests through his private zoo before Kelly had to return to Cannes for a professional engagement. During the tour, he and Kelly walked ahead of the group, chatting privately. On the ride home Kelly remarked that she'd found her prince "charming."

Their chance meeting sparked the fires of love and they started to write to each other after that first introduction. Prince Rainier soon traveled to the U.S. and proposed during Christmas, seven months later.

Their glamorous royal wedding was held on April 18, 1956, sixty-one years ago. Over 600 guests attended the nuptials, including Cary Grant, Aristotle Onassis, Ava Gardner, Gloria Swanson and Conrad Hilton.

By Napoleonic Code and Roman Catholic church rules, the they were required to marry in both a civil ceremony on April 18 and a separate religious ceremony on April 19.

Held in the Palace Throne Room, the civil ceremony lasted only 15 minutes but ended with a 25-minute long recitation of the more than 140 formal titles Grace acquired by marriage. As soon as the ceremony ended, it was repeated for a newsreel camera.

For her civil wedding, Grace wore the first of two gowns created for her by Hollywood wardrobe designer Helen Rose: a two-piece light pink taffeta dress overlaid with champagne colored lace. Both wedding gowns, handmade in MGM’s studio ateliers, were a wedding gift to the star from her studio bosses.

Then on the morning of April 19, Grace came to Monaco’s Saint Nicholas Cathedral as the world watched. Among the immensity of details were: thousands of white lilacs and lilies of the valley; one wedding ring mishap (Rainier was so nervous that Grace helped him place the ring on her finger) and a six-tiered wedding cake that replicated Monaco’s pink palace and scenes depicting Monaco’s history in sugar.

Grace wore one of the most famous wedding gowns of all time: Fit for a princess, it was a creation of 300 yards of antique Belgian lace and 150 yards of silk, taffeta and tulle created by 30 studio seamstresses.

After the celebration, she followed Monaco tradition and traveled to St. Dévote, where she offered her wedding bouquet to Monaco’s patron saint. An afternoon buffet featured caviar, salmon, chicken, jellied eggs, cold lobster, and champagne for 600 before the Princess and her Prince left for a seven-week Mediterranean honeymoon cruise.

They were married for 26 years, until Princess Grace's death in 1982 from injuries sustained in a car accident. The prince, who never remarried and who died in 2005, is buried beside his wife in the Grimaldi family vault, inside the Monaco cathedral where they wed.

“It was such an incredible affair, and it’s left such a mark on people,” the couple’s only son and heir, Prince Albert recalled in an interview with PEOPLE magazine. “What it has meant for people has been incredible… what it’s meant for Monaco, for people around the world, and, how their story continues to fascinate, that’s something unimaginable.”

- Aditha

 

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