Their fairy-tale romance captivated the world — an American movie queen, a European prince and their enchanted life in a hilltop palace overlooking the Mediterranean.
The mystique of Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly has endured the 25 years since her death in 1982 in a tragic car accident.
Though she never returned to the screen after her 1956 marriage to Rainier, the actress brought her elegance and charm to the role of princess. Kelly has remained an international style icon.
TODAY spoke with the Honorable Maguy Maccario Doyle, the Minister Counselor and Consul General of the Principality of Monaco in New York, about a series of events around the city this month celebrating Kelly and raising money for her foundation.
Q: Describe your relationship with Princess Grace ... What are your fondest memories?
A. When I was growing up in Monaco I went to an event for a children’s charity that Princess Grace set up calledAMADE. She smiled at me and I felt very special ... that was the first time I had any personal contact with her. Then several years later, after moving to New York, I was asked to meet her at the airport. I was very young and inexperienced, and felt very humble to be in her presence, but she was very kind and made me feel relaxed. I had come from Monaco to the United States and she had done the opposite ... we talked about that and how we’d coped with the challenges and transitions ... whenever she came to New York I would accompany her and she really became my mentor. I will never forget how she inspired me in so many ways—but mainly to never lose sight of your goals and dreams.
Q: Tell us about the schedule of events in New York City to honor Princess Grace.
A: From October 15 to the 26, the Consulate General of Monaco with Sotheby’s and the Princely Palace of Monaco are presenting an exhibition that is free of charge and open daily to the public called “Grace, Princess of Monaco:A Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Grace Kelly.” It will feature her dresses, jewelry, letters, photographs, video and film clips and other items, many of which have never been seen in public or outside of Monaco (www.acelebrationofgrace.com). Also the windows of New York City’s Saks Fifth Avenue store will feature Grace Kelly-inspired creations by Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, Zac Posen, Ralph Rucci and Vera Wang. The public can bid on these dresses with proceeds to benefit the Princess Grace Foundation-USA (www.pgfusa.org).
This year importantly also marks the 25th anniversary of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than $5 million to support and continue excellence in the arts — something that was close to the heart of the princess. On October 25 the Foundation will host the annual Princess Grace Awards Gala at Sotheby’s and present awards to emerging artists in theater, dance and film. During this event two of Princess Grace’s own dresses—a gown she wore in the 1956 film “High Society”and another she wore to lunch at the White House to meet President and Mrs. Kennedy in May 1961 — will be auctioned to benefit the foundation (www.pgfusa.org).
Also beginning October 15, Estée Lauder will offer a limited edition shade of lipstick—Princess Grace Coral — in honor of Princess Grace to be sold exclusively at the Saks Fifth Avenue store in New York and also available online atwww.saks.comandwww.esteelauder.com.
Q: How were the items selected for the exhibition at Sotheby's?... And how were you involved with the selection process?
A: For this tribute exhibition we selected items from the personal archives of HSH Prince Albert at the palace and from items that were part of the “The Grace Kelly Years”exhibition this past summer in Monaco. I also wanted to include memorabilia with a personal connection to the United States—the land of her birth—as this exhibit will display some of the most important times in her life. We felt it was important to show she was genuine, to remember Grace, the actress and the princess of Monaco, by showcasing the many facets of her personality; her significant contributions to humanitarian causes; her support of the arts still celebrated today through the Princess Grace Foundation-USA; her role as a devoted wife and caring mother as well as the glamorous designer clothes and fabulous jewelry that she owned and wore.
Q: Describe Princess Grace's legacy... Why do you think it is important to commemorate her life?
A: First and foremost, in the 25th year of her passing, we wanted to ensure her wonderful humanitarian and philanthropic efforts were recalled. Her principal legacy, her family, continue to pursue her vision of a better world through their own patronage and support of important causes. It also seemed the right time to bring to the land of her birth some of the special things that made her such an iconic and memorable figure — the American people love “their” princess. It’s important to inspire younger generations of women — who are in need of a good role model—and to demonstrate that she was a real person, a working wife and mother who used her position to help others and performed her duties to the very best of her abilities—with grace, style and generosity of spirit.