Grace Kelly & Howell Conant: Part Two

Last week we had a good look at the first photographs of Grace taken by her favourite photographer Howell Conant. Click here for a refresher. Today we’re moving on to ‘The ‘Prince Rainier Years.’

After Prince Rainier proposed to Grace while the couple were visiting her parents in Philadelphia, they returned to Grace Kelly’s New York apartment and Grace invited Howell over to take engagement portraits. He remembered, “I hurried over to her Fifth Avenue apartment and saw a Grace Kelly I had never seen before. Jamaica had introduced me to the playful Grace, and The Swan to the thoughtful, inward Grace. Now I found standing arm-in-arm with Prince Rainier of Monaco, Grace Kelly Number Three, a woman in love.”

Check out Rainier’s cigarette in this one. Can’t imagine that making the cut these days:

Howell also said, “He was the only man in the world Grace could have married. Why? Her fame was so great, any other man would have become known as Mr. Kelly. . . . But not Rainier, who’d never fit into that category. He’s a man’s man, and they were close. People don’t understand the importance of being important. They were both important, but Rainier owned an entire country!”

Four months after these engagement photographs were taken, Grace headed to Monaco onboard the Constitution accompanied by an estimated seventy friends and family (whose passage was all paid for by Jack Kelly, who was understandably relieved that he wasn’t expected to pay for the wedding itself), and numerous reporters. Howell was there to capture every moment as part of a top secret assignment with LIFE. Only Grace was in on the secret. Because of their friendship, he was able to spend time with Grace taking pictures when the other reporters were kept away.

Love this shot of Grace hiding from a reporter who has just spotted her outside the window:

The USS Constitution arrived in Monaco on April 12, 1956. For her arrival, Grace chose to wear a white organza hat which was selected for Howell’s benefit.

To the numerous assembled photographers, the hat was a nuiscanse because it hid her face, but for Howell it worked like a photographer’s white umbrella and it diffused the harsh sunlight (the ship arrived at ten am). Clever!!

And then there was The Wedding. The first event was the Civil Ceremony, which was held on April 18, 1956 (so 7 days after Grace’s arrival in the principality) and Howell was there to capture it all. He liked capturing his subjects from above when possible:

That evening, the couple attended a gala at the Opera House and when they returned home to the palace they waved to the citizens of Monaco waiting below:

They must have been exhausted, but the next day was another big one of course. Howell captured some candid moments, like this one when Grace was adjusting bridesmaid Carolyn Scott’s hat:

Another fave. The bodice of the gown featured 125 year old rose point lace:

After all the festivities, the Prince and Princess boarded the Deo Juvante II for their honeymoon cruise. Naturally, Howell was already onboard to capture the couple’s arrival.

In Part Three, we’ll conclude this series with Howell’s photographs of Grace and her family in the years she lived in Monaco. Hope you’ll join us!

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