April 19th 1956: Wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier

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Wedding portrait of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, 1956

 

On this day in 1956, the American actress Grace Kelly married the Prince of Monaco, Rainier III. Kelly was a successful established actress, having won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, when she met Prince Rainier. The couple met at the Cannes Film Festival, stayed in contact, and soon were engaged to be married. It was important for Rainier to marry and produce an heir as a 1918 treaty provided that if there was no heir Monaco would return to France.

 

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Prince Rainier III of Monaco (1923 – 2005)

 

The wedding was an elaborate fanfare, with many calling it ‘the wedding of the century’. The civil ceremony took place the day before the April 19th wedding, but the church affair the next day was the real spectacle, with around 30 million people watching on television. Kelly soon retired from acting to focus on her duties in Monaco and as a mother to the couple’s three children.

 

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Grace Kelly (1929 – 1982)

 

Princess Grace died in 1982 aged 52 after suffering a stroke while driving, which led to her crashing the vehicle. It was a tragedy for Monaco and the world, and her funeral received the same calibre of distinguished guests as her wedding had 26 years earlier. Prince Rainier did not remarry and was buried alongside her when he died in 2005.

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