After a whirlwind romance during which Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly only spent a few days together in the same place(!), the Prince proposed. As we discussed in a previous post, the couple first met during the Cannes Film Festival in 1955 when Paris Match suggested it would be a great PR move for them. Was it ever.
After that meeting, Prince Rainier and Grace began a correspondence. One of Kelly’s bridesmaids, Rita Gam, later said, “I remember her saying, ‘I found my prince.’ I thought she meant the generic term. Then I found out he really was a prince.” That prince came to the United States in December of that year. He came to see Grace and her family in Philadelphia and a few days in to this visit, he proposed.
This photo was taken at the Kelly home. Don’t Grace’s parents looks delighted:
Realizing that the American tradition lent more towards a ‘bigger is better’ mentality, he also gave Grace a second more traditional ring which featured a spectacular 12 carat emerald cut centre diamond with two baguettes on either side, also by Cartier.
Here is another great shot of the just engaged couple in the Kelly home in Philadelphia:
The ring turned out to be perfect for the part she was set to play as Tracy Lord in the film High Society. Grace had selected a lovely paste ring to wear as her prop at first, but when she received the diamond ring from Prince Rainier she didn’t want to take it off, because of course she didn’t.
This next story about Grace and her hairstylist Virginia comes from the memoir The Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly Princess of Monaco and Six Intimate Friends which was written by Grace’s bridesmaid and friend Judith Balaban Quine.
“Look at this!” she howled, holding her left hand up to Virgina’s face. Virginia thought it was the same prop diamond and informed Grace that she saw it daily, she didn’t get the joke. But it was no prop. As though the Prince had seen the prop and had it duplicated, this was the real McCoy. Grace told Virginia that she wanted to substitute it for the prop ring and wear it through the remainder of the movie. But Virginia reminded Grace that studio insurance would require guards on the set if she told. Together, they decided to make the switch but tell no one. Now, when people on the set asked Grace when her engagement ring was coming, she would reply mischievously, “This is my engagement ring,” flashing the real one, which was mistaken for the prop.”
This is just one of the great heartwarming stories in the book – it’s such a great read, I spent three hours in the tub one night reading it over. It has been out of print for awhile, but it can be purchased here
As we now know, this turned out to be Grace’s last film (she had secretly hoped it wouldn’t be but Prince Rainier wouldn’t hear of her returning to acting). It costarred Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong is in it, too. If you haven’t seen it yet, add it to your list! It’s a fun one with gorgeous sets and costumes. For example, this gown is worn by Kelly as a bathing suit cover up and she wears it to lounge poolside. Seriously. And you can get a bit of a glimpse of her ring here, too:
Here’s Grace outside her apartment building in New York shortly before leaving for her wedding in Monaco. It’s hard to see here, but she’s still wearing the ring:
Grace needed to buy more clothes fit for a Princess before she left. Here she is deciding on new shoes:
Naturally there was a lot to pack before she left (she ended up taking four steamer trunks and 56 pieces of luggage). Here she is trying to get organized:
And then she was off to Monaco on the Constitution with 76 friends and family and plenty of press.Here is some footage of her departure. It looks chaotic, but she does eventually speak about leaving for Monaco:
Here she is keeping busy on the ship:
It looks like so much fun, we’d have wanted the ship to go veeeeery slowly. At last Grace arrived in Monaco, wearing a hat the press detested because it hid her face in most of the photos… but not in this one! Prince Rainier came out to the ship to greet her:
To end, let’s enjoy this formal photograph of Grace Kelly with her attendants on her wedding day:
If you haven’t yet, do check out our favourite royal wedding dresses by clicking here and vote for your favourite!