Monaco is a very small principality of France that lies between France and the Mediterranean Sea. This little strip of land became its own country in 1814 when it gained independence from the French empire. The royal Grimaldi family has been ruling the Principality of Monaco since 1297. This family has been around for a really long time and have never stopped making headlines.
The Grimaldis have been through controversial marriages, Olympic games, and disagreements about extravagant royal decor. Read on to learn everything you’ve ever needed to know about the Monaco royal family.
Actress Grace Kelly Brought The Family To Center-Stage
Long before Meghan Markle left acting for royalty, actress Grace Kelly did it. She married Prince Rainier III of the Grimaldi royal family on 19 April 1956. That was sixty-two years Prince Harry of the British royal family decided to break with tradition and marry an American actress. Grace Kelly decided to give up her acting career for love. She and Prince Rainier met on a train, and the rest is history.
These two didn’t exactly have a smooth relationship, but their wedding was still called “the wedding of the century.”
Could This Family Be Cursed?
There has been a popular legend circulating since the 13th century that the Grimaldi family was cursed by heretics and witches. The legend goes that a nobleman named Francesco Grimaldi disguised himself as a monk and took over Monaco’s castle. After becoming the first Prince Rainier, her sentences several witches and heretics to death. He apparently also kidnapped a young girl, then learned she was a witch, and then let her burn at the stake.
While she was burning she yelled out, “Never will a Grimaldi find true happiness in marriage.”
A Grimaldi Competed In Five Winter Olympic Games
Prince Albert, The son of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace (AKA Grace Kelly) is quite an accomplished athlete. He is a bobsled champion who competed in the Winter Olympics in 1988, 1992, 1994, 1998, and 2002. He’s never won an Olympic medal, but he has won other prizes for his bobsled achievements.
Albert’s relatives on his mother’s side were also Olympic athletes. His grandfather John B. Kelly Sr and his uncle John B. Kelly Jr both won Olympic medals in rowing.
Princess Charlene Was An Olympian Before Marrying Into The Family
This is Princess Charlene, Prince Albert’s wife. She was born in Zimbabwe in 1978, but she grew up in South Africa. Charlene is an Olympic swimmer who won three gold medals and a silver medal at the 1999 All-Africa Games in Johannesburg. She competed in the Olympics in 2000, which was the same year that she met Prince Albert II.
Albert and Charlene got married in 2011, and after retiring from Olympic swimming, Charlene became an Olympics ambassador.
A Large Diamond For A Leading Lady
Prince Rainier III proposed to Grace Kelly with a diamond that was over 10 carats in weight. The ring was made by Cartier ad it featured a diamond set on an eternity band surrounded by rubies to represent the colors of Monaco.
Grace Kelly actually wore the ring on camera. If you pay close attention in her film High Society, you can actually see it on her finger. It’s now one of the most famous engagement rings in the world.
Charlotte Casiraghi Rides Horses And Thinks Heavy Thoughts
This is a photo of Charlotte Casiraghi who is the daughter of Princess Caroline. She is currently eleventh in line to the throne. Charlotte has a lot of royal duties, but she always finds time for her other passions. Charlotte is an equestrian who has competed in horse riding tournaments throughout the 2009 and 2010 Global Champions Tour.
Charlotte is also a philosopher. She started a philosophy group called Les Rencontres Philosophiques de Monaco, or “Philosophical Encounters of Monaco.” She publishes her work in several magazines including Above, Ever Manifesto, AnOther Magazine, and The Independent.
Charlotte Married A Famous Film Producer
Very recently, on June 1, 2019, the philosopher of Monaco’s royal family, Charlotte Casiraghi married film producer Dimitri Rassam. The ceremony took place at the Palace Throne Room in Monaco. All of the royals were in attendance.
This couple actually postponed their wedding because Charlotte became pregnant. Six months before the wedding, she gave birth to a baby boy named Balthazar. On her wedding day, Charlotte wore an Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent lace dress. She also wore a Cartier diamond necklace that belonged to Grace Kelly.
How Princess Grace Met Her Tragic End
Princess Grace Kelly and her daughter, Princess Stéphanie, were in a serious car crash on September 13, 1982. On that day, Grace drove her daughter to the Monaco train station. Stéphanie was attending school in Paris and often commuted by train. On the way to the train station, Grace, in a panic, told Stéphanie that she couldn’t get the car’s brake system to work. She lost control of the vehicle and steered down a 120-foot slope.
Years later, doctors found evidence that Grace experienced a “cerebral vascular incident.” They believed that this is what caused her to lose control of her body and the car. Stéphanie survived the accident, but she still feels a sense of survivor’s guilt. “Everyone wanted her to survive,” she recalled, “and instead I did.”
The Death Of Stefano Casiraghi
It’s starting to look like this marriage curse might actually be a real thing. In 1990, Princess Caroline’s second husband, Italian financier Stefano Casiraghi, died in a speedboat accident. Stefano was a speedboat racer who was defending his World Offshore Championship speedboat racing title at the time. His 42-foot boat hit a wave at over 90 miles an hour and capsized.
Stefano was pronounced dead at Princess Grace Hospital, and since then, Princess Caroline has been in a state of depression. She no longer appears at public functions or performs her royal duties.
Princess Stéphanie’s Struggles With Love
The Grimaldi curse strikes again. Princess Grace’s daughter, Princess Stéphanie was called “the wild child” by the public. She’s really been through the wringer when it comes to both her career and her love life. Stéphanie married a convicted US sex offender, but while she was married, she became pregnant with her bodyguard’s child.
Stéphanie left her first husband and married her bodyguard in 1995. They had two children together but divorced a year later when husband number two was caught in a naked embrace with Miss Belgium. Stéphanie had a third child, but she won’t disclose who the father of that child is. She married a Portuguese acrobat in 2003 but got divorced again in 2004.
The First Chapter In Princess Caroline’s Love Life
Princess Caroline, Princess Stéphanie’s sister, has been married three times. We already know what happened to her second husband, but what about her first husband? Caroline’s parents, Prince Ranier III and Princess Grace, disapproved of her first marriage to Parisian banker Phillipe Junot. Neither of them attended her wedding.
Junot was 17 years older than Caroline. These two got into a very heated argument during their honeymoon, and two years after they got married, the got divorced.
There Were Strict Rules For Princess Grace’s Visitors
After Grace Kelly became royalty (and not just Hollywood royalty) everyone wanted to get close to her. Grace’s father had to pay a $2 million dowry for the marriage to go forward. Over 30 million people watched Grace Kelly marry Prince Rainier III. All of the attention was too much for the couple, so they put some strict rules in place.
People who visited Grace weren’t allowed to ask for autographs, photographs, voice recordings, or visual recordings.
A Look Inside The Royal Palace
In 2017, before the Oscars aired, Prince Albert gave CBS a special tour of the Monaco royal palace. CBS documented the tour, and it’s now available online. Princess Grace and Prince Rainier designed much of this palace. Prince Albert points out his parents’ influence on this ornate and beautiful complex.
Together, Grace and Rainier designed the palace’s pool. Princess Grace also completely redesigned the Guard’s Room. In the recordings that CBS took, Albert is clearly very proud of his parents’ accomplishments.
All About Prince Rainier III
Prince Rainier III completely stole Gracy Kelly’s heart. He is the reason that she decided to give up acting for good. Prince Rainier III ascended to the throne in 1949. He stayed in power until his death and he reigned for a total of 56 years. He is still one of the longest-ruling monarchs in European history.
While he was on the throne, Prince Rainier III guided Monaco’s economy away from casinos and towards trade.
When A Journalist Becomes News
Beatrice Borromeo is a journalist and TV personality. You might know her from news outlets such as Newsweek and Daily Beast. She’s interviewed many guests, and even directed a documentary about women in the mafia. In 2015, she married Pierre Casiraghi, who is the youngest son of Princess Caroline. The pair had been dating since 2008.
Beatrice and Pierre now have two sons. Beatrice has pretty much retired from journalism and now focuses on her royal duties.
Another Stuttering King
Remember the film The King’s Speech about King George V’s speech impediment? Well, Albert II also suffered from a stutter for many years. He tried to correct his stutter numerous times and had private speech-language pathologists help him through several speech programs. Eventually, Prince Albert II learned how to control his stuttering.
Albert said that he made his first speech at age 17, so he “had time to deal with it.” Still, he tries to avoid public speaking whenever possible.
Prince Albert II Had Children Out Of Wedlock
Before marrying Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock in 2011, Prince Albert II had a few children out of wedlock. His first child, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, was born in 1992. He also had a son in 2005 named Alexandre Coste. His mother is a former Air France flight attendant.
Paternity tests have proven that both of these children belong to Prince Albert, but they have no claim to the throne because they were born out of wedlock. His children with Charlene, Gabriella Thérèse Marie and Jacques Honoré Rainier, do have a claim to the throne.
Another American Joins The Royal Family
Princess Carolines eldest son, Andrea Casiraghi, married American small business owner Tatianna Santo Domingo in 2013. Tatianna worked as a Vanity Fair intern before becoming a founder of a startup called Muzungu Sisters. Forbes estimates her net worth to be $2.4 billion.
Tatianna may be American, but she spent much of her childhood in Geneva, Switzerland, and Paris, France. Tatianna and Andrea dated for seven years before getting married, and now they have two children together.
Louis Ducruet, Princess Stéphanie’s Son, Got Married Recently
Louis Ducruet is the son of Princess Stéphanie and her second husband, her bodyguard, Daniel Ducruet. In February 2018, Louis announced his engagement to Marie Hoa Chevallier. The couple met at Western Carolina University in 2015, and the got married in the summer of 2019.
Marie is a French and Monacoian citizen who runs a fashion and travel blog. Louis worked at sports development centers (including AS Monaco FC) and is also involved in automobile racing.
The Royal Twins Of Monaco
We’ve already discussed Prince Albert and Princess Charlene’s two children, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, but did you know that these two little royals are actually twins? These two were born in 2014, and they are growing up so quickly.
These kids seem to be taking after their parents because they already love sports. During the International Rugby Tournament in 2018, the twins were seen kicking a ball around. Princess Charlene often shares adorable videos of her twins on Instagram.
Prince Ernst Married Ekaterina Malyshev Against His Parents’ Wishes
Prince Ernst of Hanover proposed to his girlfriend, Russian fashion designer and filmmaker Ekaterina Malysheva in 2016 after dating her for five years. Ernst’s father, Prince Ernst Sr., did not approve of this union and he even refused to attend his son’s wedding. Apparently the dispute was over how family assets would be handled legally in the marriage.
Ernst decided to marry Ekaterina anyway, despite his parents opposition. They got married in 2017 and they now have two children together.
The Royals Have Personal Instagram Accounts
The members of the British royal family don’t have personal social media accounts. In fact, before marrying Prince Harry, Meghan Markle deleted her personal Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages. The British royal family isn’t allowed to have private accounts for privacy and security reasons.
This isn’t the case in Monaco, though. Princess Charlene is quite active on Instagram. She posted this photo not too long ago with the caption, “Happy New Year from Lapland! met up with Santa just to make sure he delivered all the presents to everyone.”
There Are No Kings Or Queens
Monaco is a very small country. It only has a population of 38,000 people. For that reason, it does not need a king. It has historically aligned itself with other governments. Monaco is instead ruled by a prince or a princess.
In an interview with Larry King, Prince Albert explained, “Well, because Monaco is a principality, Larry, and so therefore the title of prince, which was taken back in the 17 th century by Prince Henry the II … made it so that Monaco was recognized as a principality by the king of France.”
A Royal Dog At A Royal Funeral
Prince Rainier III passed away in 1985 when he was 81 years old. Before he died, he had bee receiving treatment for kidney, heart, and breathing problems.
His funeral was in the same cathedral where he and Princess Grace got married. Princess Caroline and Princess Stéphanie were in attendance, as well as Prince Albert. Prince Rainier’s dog Odin also attended the funeral and he walked as part of the funeral cortege. This dog was loyal right until the very end.
Why We All Love Princess Grace
Princess Grace’s assistant shared some details about Grace with The Daily Mail: “She wasn’t stuffy. She had a mischievous sense of humor, a glint of naughtiness in her eye and a great passion for limericks – even saucy ones. The actor David Niven shared her love of banter,” she added. “There were gales of laughter every time he visited the palace.”
This is a photo of Grace Kelly with French Academician and Culture minister Maurice Druon in Paris in 1973.
The Amazing Cars Of Monaco’s Royal Family
Prince Rainier III absolutely loved cars. He began collecting cars in the 1950s, and all of those cars are now on display at a museum that’s open to the public.
Like his grandfather, Prince Albert II is also a car collector. He is responsible for overseeing the Royal car collection. In an interview with Auto Express, he discussed one of his favorite cars, a 1959 Fiat 600 Jolly: “When I see the Jolly, I automatically think of summer,” he said.
Grace Had To Prove She Was Fertile Before She Married Rainier
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier fell in love and they were ready to get married, but the royal family had to make sure that Grace could bear children before things could be made official. Grace had to submit to a fertility test before she could become a princess.
Also, Grace’s father had to pay a $2 million dowry because that’s the royal tradition. Mr. Kelly wasn’t thrilled about the custom, so Grace paid half of the dowry herself.
The Royal Family’s Relationship With The Vatican
Monaco’s royal family has met with several popes over the years. In this photo, you can see Prince Rainier, Princess Grace, Prince Albert, and Princess Stephanie visiting Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in Rome in 1974.
The royal family also met with past popes including Pope Pius XII, Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul I, and John Paul II. Prince Albert and Princess Charlene visited with Pope Benedict XVI in 2013. Charlene was raised protestant, but she converted to Catholicism when she married Albert.
Grace Kelly Has A Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Grace Kelly took a step back from acting when she was 26 years old so that she could marry Prince Rainier III. Even though she had retired from acting, four years later, she got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the motion picture category. Grace wasn’t able to attend the ceremony in Hollywood because it conflicted with her royal duties.
You can find Princess Grace’s star at 6329 Hollywood Blvd. It’s very close to Elizabeth Taylor’s star.
Prince Albert Bought His Mother’s Childhood Home
The photo above was taken right after Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III got engaged. It was taken in Kelly’s childhood home which is located in Philadelphia. Sixty years later, Prince Albert bought his mother’s old house for $754,000. His plan was to have the house become the American offices for the Princess Grace Foundation.
Albert said that the house was “very special to our family.” He was happy to save it “from a near-certain death or development.”
The Royal Family Loves Their Yachts
Monaco is right on the coast of the Mediterranian sea, so it’s no wonder that the very wealthy Grimaldi family has a long love of yachting. One of their most famous yachts was called Stalca. The name is an an acronym of Stephanie, Albert and Caroline. Stalca was 25 meters long, which is pretty small by royal standards, but the family didn’t want the yacht to draw too much attention to itself.
Stalca contained four guest cabins including a VIP suite, master suite, and two double bunk cabins.
Grace Kelly’s Brother Ran For Mayor
John “Jack” B. Kelly Jr., Grace’s older brother, was quite accomplished in his own right. He was a four-time Olympian and an Olympic medal winner. Later in his life, he became involved in local politics and he ran for Mayor of Philadelphia in 1935. Kelly ran as a democrat and the city of Philadelphia is largely republican, so Jack ended up losing, but only by a small margin.
Jack’s campaign was derailed after his relationship with a transsexual named Rachel Harlow (formerly Richard Finnocchio) became known to the public.
Monaco’s Most Famous Casino
The Monte Carlo Casino is Monaco’s most famous attraction. It’s a large entertainment center that contains a casino, the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, and the office of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo. The Grimaldi family owns a very large portion of the building and the surrounding property.
You might recognize The Casino from several James Bond films. The 2004 film Ocean’s Twelve starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy García, and Julia Roberts was also filmed there.
Celebrating 700 Years In Monaco
1997 marked the Grimaldi family’s 700th year of sovereignty in Monaco since Monaco’s establishment in 1297.
The Grimaldi’s held a grand celebration, and at the event, Prince Rainier declared that it would be “the living expression of the national unity of the nation,” and would illustrate the bond between the family and the Monegasques “whose rich and authentic history will allow the new generation to find a newborn faith for the future.” So much has happened in 700 years.
The Glitz And Glamor Of The Annual Rose Ball
Every year, the Grimaldis host an annual Rose Ball, or “Bal de la Rose.” The Rose Ball is a large, extravagant gala for charity. Roses were Princess Grace’s favorite flower and the ball ays tribute to Grace with a display of 25,000 roses.
Prince Albert and Princess Caroline now host the event, but it was originally started by Princess Grace in 1954. All of the proceeds from the ball go towards the Princess Grace Foundation. This is a photo of Princess Alexandra of Hanover, Dimitri Rassam, and Charlotte Casiraghi at 2018’s ball.
The Royal Twins Take On New York City
Young royal twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella have been all over the world with their parents. In January of 2019, they took a trip to New York City. The twins visited the American Museum of Natural History and the World Trade Center Memorial.
Charlene shared moments from the trip on Instagram. This photo was taken at the World Trade Center Memorial. Charlene captioned the photo, “First trip to NY. Great adventure and a wonderful experience!”
Prince Albert Owns The World’s Most Expensive Car Key
We already know how found Prince Albert is of cars. In March of 2019, Prince Albert became the proud owner of the most expensive car key in the world — the Senturion Key S177 Full Meteorite. This key is made with precious metals from a 4.9 billion-year-old meteorite found in Africa, and it’s worth $269,521.
Seven of these keys were made in total, and the other keys belong to people such as the Sultan of Brunei, footballer David Luiz, and Olympic champion Usain Bolt.
Monaco’s Iconic Flag
Monaco’s national flag looks like a red stripe on top of a while stripe. These colors hold important meaning for the Grimaldi family. Red and white have been the heraldic colors of the House of Grimaldi since the 1300s. A different flag was used when the country was first established that featured the Grimaldi’s coat of arms, but that flag was replaced with this more current version in the 1800s.
The flag is Monaco is very similar to the flag of Poland (it’s basically the same, just with the colors reversed).
A Flag That’s Just For Prince Albert
Prince Albert II has his own flag known as The Princely Standard. It has a white background and two red ‘A’s on it. Sometimes it has gold fringe around its border. The Monegasque Constitution dictates, “The Princely flag shall be made of the arms of the House of Grimaldi on a white background”.
Nobody is allowed to fly the Princely Standard unless Prince Albert II is present. Albert sometimes adorns his cars with his personal flag.
Till Death Do Them Part
Princess Grace and Prince Rainier are buried right next to each other in Saint Nicholas Cathedral. The Archbishop who performed the funeral service for Rainier said, “We are convinced that those who were united here below by the fidelity of their conjugal love are forever united in the fullness of God’s love.”
Rainier and Grace’s graves are always open to the public, and many tourists stop by to pay their respects to this iconic couple.