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The Quiet Beauty of Princess Grace Kelly’s Resting Place



It was an extraordinarily beautiful day in September when I was in Monaco. Any day spent in Monaco would probably be beautiful, but this particular day was sunny, comfortable, and the light was delicate, even in its full brightness.


There are only about 38,000 people who live in Monaco, a small country that sits on the beautiful Mediterranean coast, with one out of every three claiming wealth in excess of $1 million dollars. There is no income tax as of 1869 and other types of taxes are very low. People of wealth move to Monaco to take advantage of these low burdens and as a result, more than 100 nations are represented in this diverse community.


However, people move to Monaco for more than the low tax burdens. They move their because of the beautiful weather, the stability of the government, and events such as the Grand Prix that keep the small nation thriving.


Although it might seem reasonable that Monaco was a part of France, it actually is independent. An agreement from the 18th century guaranteed that France would not annex the country, even if they still have claim to some political issues such as succession. In 1918


France took issue with the potential of a German national inheriting the throne, which lead to a new treaty that gave France consultation powers to have a voice in marriage and the direction of the dynasty. If the throne would not be filled properly, France would take Monaco as a protectorate and it would become under French jurisdiction.


In 1918 Prince Albert I was the father of Prince Louis, who at the time was 48 and was not married nor betrothed. At this point, the succession of the throne was at stake. The only heari that Louis could claim was the cousin of Prince Albert I who had been born in Monaco but was a national of the Kingdome of Wurttemberg. In 1871 Wurttemberg had become a part of the German Empire, and at the close of World War I France was not particularly enthused about a German national being on the Monaco throne.


Succession became a critical factor due to the tense relations with Germany and the fear that Monaco could serve the German interests if war should ever break out again, which of course it did.


This lead to the assertion of power by France over Monaco concerning succession.

Louis had an illegitimate child named Charlotte Louvet which eventually served as a solution to the problem. Although it was a complicated process, andthrough adopting his own child, Louis was able to establish the continuation of the Grimaldi dynasty through the marriage to cmote Pierre de Polignac which led to the births of Princess Antoinette, baroness de Massy and Prince Rainier who was the marquis des Baux.


As the heir to the throne Rainier was required to inform the government that he would marry. In 1956 Prince Rainier informed the French government that he would be marrying the American film actress Grace Kelly.


The film career of Grace Kelly included a 1954 Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination for her performance in the John Ford film Mogambo which starred Ava Gardner and Clark Gable. She had leading roles in several other films including High Noon, The Country Girl, High Society, Dial M. For Murder, Rear Window, and To Catch a Thief. However, by the time she was 26 she retired from acting to marry Rainier and to take on the title of Princess of Monaco.




To become Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco her father had to give a dowry of $2 million, which allayed some of the costs of the wedding. Her father was a successful business man, so he was able to provide the dowry, but in return Princess Grace received a beautiful diamond ring that was 10.47 carats in an emerald cut. Of course, she also became a legitimate princess.


She had three children with Prince Rainier: Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, and Princess Stephanie.


In 1982 Princess Grace had a stroke while driving and ended up going town a 120 foot mountainside with her daughter Stephanie sitting next to her who tried without success to control the car. After suffering the first stroke, she suffered a second, after which Rainier decided that it was time to take her off life support. She died at the age of 52.




Princess Grace is buried in Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco. The light in the cathedral is ethereal, glowing more than shining and filling the space with a sense of sweetness that is uncommon on burial sites. In most burial sites there is the feeling of death, but in the space where Princess Kelly and Prince Rainier are buried there is such a sense of light that there is no question that the memory of life is the stronger aura that exists within the space.


As a perpetual student of history, the remnants of death that are found in museums and at historic sites have often been a part of my travels. However, at the tomb of the Prince and Princess the darkness of death was bathed in a light that spoke of the hope of the future. The quiet was not filled with sadness, but with the promise of all that life can bring.


Although the artifacts of death have been an important part of developing historic memorials and curated displays in museums, I have often been uncomfortable with the idea of using the remains of humans as a way in which to create tourism. However, walking slowly through the cathedral and quietly looking at the stones that covered the tombs of both Grace and Rainier,


I felt a little differently than I had felt in the past. I felt the peace of the quiet within that place, a respect that seemed to be warm and lucid. Rather than death, I felt the strong presence of life. Maybe that should always be the message – that in the tragedy of death is also the peace of memory and light of lives that were lived in the messy, vibrancy of what it means to be human.

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