Since 1297, the royal Grimaldi family has ruled the Principality of Monaco. The royal family has made headlines throughout history, from a supposed family curse to an Oscar-winning actress ascending to the throne.
If you don’t know much about Monaco’s royal family, then you’re missing out on some controversial marriages, Olympic sports rulers, and extravagant royal decor. Here’s everything you need to know about the current Monaco royal family. The wedding and baby photos coming from these royal couples will make a lot more sense to you in the next couple of months.
Let’s start with one of the most famous actress princesses in history!
Prince Rainier III Married Oscar Actress Grace Kelly
Sixty-two years before Meghan Markle sacrificed her acting career for Prince Harry, Grace Kelly announced that her five-year-long film career would end for love. Kelly had already won Best Actress Oscar for The Country Girl, but she paused her roles after meeting Prince Rainier on a train.
Their initial meetups started out rocky, from Kelly’s car crashing into a photographer’s, to the Prince not showing up on time, to him asking her for a tour with the reply that she already had taken the tour, thank you. But the two married in April 1956, and their union was called “the wedding of the century.”
The Grimaldi Family Curse
According to popular legend, the royal Grimaldi dynasty is afflicted with a curse dating back to the 13th century. In 1267, a nobleman named Francesco Grimaldi disguised himself as a monk and overtook Monaco’s castle. He became the first Prince Rainier and sent several heretics and witches to death.
But it didn’t end there. Prince Rainier had kidnapped a young maiden to wed, but upon finding out that she was a witch, sent her to death by stake. Before she died, the woman claimed, “Never will a Grimaldi find true happiness in marriage.”
The current head rulers can both be seen in early 2000s Olympics footage.
Prince Albert Competed In Five Winter Olympics
The son of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace, Albert II is an avid athlete. He competed for the Winter Olympics in 1988, 1992, 1994, 1998, and 2002. He bobsledded in both two-man and four-man events, although he has not won many medals.
Beyond his numerous competitions, he has remained a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1985, before he even started competing. He seems to have inherited his passion for sports from his grandfather John B. Kelly Sr and uncle John B. Kelly Jr, who both won Olympic medals in rowing.
Princess Charlene Was An Olympic Swimmer
Princess Charlene was born in present-day Zimbabwe in 1978 but lived most of her life in South Africa. She competed in swimming tournaments in several Olympics, winning three gold medals and a silver medal at the 1999 All-Africa Games in Johannesburg. In 2000, she represented South Africa at the Summer Olympics in Sydney, where she finished fifth in the 4 x 100 m medley relay.
That same year, Charlene met Prince Albert II at the swimming competition in Monte Carlo. The couple would marry in July 2011, the same year that Charlene retired from swimming and became an Olympics ambassador.
Tragedy has not escape Monaco’s headlines.
The Tragic Death Of Princess Grace
On September 13, 1982, Princess Grace Kelly and her daughter, Princess Stéphanie, were in a serious car crash. Grace offered to drive her daughter to the train station, where she would head to school in Paris. Along the way, Grace claimed she could not operate the breaks. She missed a sharp turn and sent the car down a 120-foot slope.
Years later, doctors found evidence that Grace experienced a “cerebral vascular incident,” possibly confusing her and causing her to blackout. Only Stéphanie lived, but she carries a painful sense of guilt. “Everyone wanted her to survive,” she recalled, “and instead I did.”
The Passing Of Princess Caroline’s Second Husband, Stefano Casiraghi
Princess Caroline remained with her second husband, Italian financier Stefano Casiraghi, for seven years until his untimely death. In 1990, Stefano defended his World Offshore Championship speedboat racing title with his co-pilot Patrice Innocenti. When his 42-foot boat hit a wave at over 90 miles an hour, it overturned.
Both boatmen were rushed to Princess Grace Hospital, where Stefano was pronounced dead. His death left Princess Caroline crippled by depression, unable to perform public functions for six years. The pair had three children together.
Is the Grimaldi family curse true? Decide for yourself after learning some of the royal family’s tragic love stories.
Princess Stéphanie’s Tragic Love Endeavors
Princess Stéphanie was often called “the wild child” for her struggles with career and love. The Princess initially married a convicted US sex offender, though while married, she became pregnant with her bodyguard Daniel Ducruet.
Stéphanie married Ducruet in 1995, and they had two children. They split up a year later after the bodyguard had been photographed in a naked embrace with Miss Topless Belgium. Princess Stéphanie had a third child in 1998 but refuses to name the baby’s father. Her last marriage was to a Portuguese acrobat in 2003, but that ended in 2004.
Princess Caroline’s Controversial First Marriage
Princess Caroline, daughter of Prince Ranier II and Princess Grace, has married three times throughout her life. Her parents disapproved of her first marriage, which seemed doomed to fail from the start. Neither parent attended the wedding, and the couple had to walk around the city instead of drive in a car.
The Princess married Parisian banker Phillipe Junot, who was 17 years older than her at the time. Reports leaked that the couple had heated arguments even during their honeymoon. They divorced in 1980, only two years after they married. They had no children.
Want to know what the royal estate looks like? Take a sneak peek.
Princess Grace’s Visitors Adhered To Strict Rules
Access to Princess Grace became limited even before the wedding. Her father had to pay an endowment of $2 million for the marriage to proceed. Over 30 million people watched the former actress get married, which may explain why Rainier III placed strict rules on her visitors.
Those who visited Princess Grace could not ask for autographs, photographs, voice recordings, or visual recordings. In a group setting, no one else could leave the room until the Princess left first.
You Can See Inside The Royal Palace
Just before the Oscars in 2017, Prince Albert gave CBS News a tour of the Monaco royal palace. CBS filmed this tour, which is available to the public online. In particular, Albert II focused on the parts that Princess Grace designed along with his late father, Prince Rainier III.
Both the Prince and Princess designed the palace’s stunning pool, and the Princess completely redecorated the Guards’ Room, or Salle de Garde. Prince Albert also talked about his parents and his childhood as a royal.
One of Italy’s most popular TV celebrities now hangs out with the Grimaldi royals.
One Of The Longest Ruling Monarchs: Prince Rainier III
When Prince Rainier III ascended to the throne in 1949, he was fated to remain there for almost 56 years. To date, he is one of the longest ruling monarchs in European history. He wasn’t the first in his family line; at the time of his death in 1720, Prince Honoré III ruled Monaco for 59 years.
The time period does not lessen Rainier III’s impact on his country, however. Throughout his rule, he guided Monaco’s economy away from casinos to its current tax haven role. He also contributed to the country’s new constitution, which reduced the power of the royal family.
An Italian Journalist And TV Personality Marries Into Royalty
Beatrice Borromeo is a member of the aristocratic House of Borromeo, although most people know her as a journalist and TV personality. She has contributed to Newsweek and Daily Beast, interviewed many guests, and even directed a documentary about mafia women. In 2015, she married Pierre Casiraghi, the youngest son of Princess Caroline of Hanover.
The pair had dated and been featured in tabloids since 2008. Since marrying, they have had two sons. Beatrice seems to have cut off her journalism life to fully embrace her royal duties.
The current line to the throne got a little messy with some princely scandals…
The (Monaco) King’s Speech
Like King George VI, Albert II claims to have suffered from a stutter for many years, and also met failure in several speech programs. In an interview with CNN, he said that he didn’t know how it came about, but that he learned to work through it in sports.
Prince Albert also recounted that he made his first speech at age 17, so he “had time to deal with it.” Still, he isn’t eager to jump on public speaking opportunities or interviews.
Prince Albert Has Children Who Are Not Heirs To The Throne
Despite marrying South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock in 2011, Albert II had many children born out of wedlock. The first was Jazmin Grace Grimaldi in 1992, who has Prince Albert listed as her father on her Riverside County, California Birth Certificate. The second was Alexandre Coste in 2005, born from a former Air France flight attendant.
DNA tests conclude that both of these children are Prince Albert’s. However, they have no claim to the throne. His children with Princess Charlene–Gabriella Thérèse Marie and Jacques Honoré Rainier–are in line for the throne.
New royal weddings will hit the headlines soon. Learn which couples you should keep an eye out for.
An American Fashion Worker Marries Into Royalty
Andrea Casiraghi, the eldest son of Princess Caroline of Hanover and fourth in line to the Monegasque throne, married an American small business owner in 2013. Tatianna Santo Domingo worked as a Vanity Fair intern and for the fashion company Aeffe Group before helping launch a small-business startup called Muzungu Sisters. Forbes estimates her net worth to be $2.4 billion.
Tatianna was born in America but spent much of her life in Geneva, Switzerland, and Paris, France. In 2010, she relinquished her American citizenship. She married Casiraghi after a seven-year relationship and has two children with him.
A New Royal Wedding Fast Approaches
The eldest granddaughter of Princess Grace, Charlotte Casiraghi, plans to marry her long-time film producer fiancé Dimitri Rassam in June 2019. The couple initially planned to get married earlier, but the arrival of their six-month-old son Balthazar made them pause the wedding’s progression.
Dimitri has produced several films including The Little Prince, Escobar: Paradise Lost, and What’s in a Name? He has a daughter who was born during his previous marriage. Charlotte also has a young son Raphael from her prior relationship with comedian Gad Elmaleh. The two have been together since 2017.
Another Royal Wedding Fast Approaches
Princess Stéphanie’s son, Louis Ducruet, announced his engagement to Marie Chevallier in February 2018. The two met at Western Carolina University around 2015. Beyond that, the couple has not released any more information since their engagement.
Marie is a French and Monacoian citizen who runs a fashion blog and frequently travels. Louis worked at sports development centers and participated in automobile racing. Beyond their engagement and social media, the two keep quiet about their royal duties and family history.
Unfortunately, one Prince’s parents refused to appear at their son’s wedding…
Meet Monaco’s Adorable Royal Twins
Prince Albert and Princess Charlene have two young twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella. The two have been spotted doing some playing around during some official events. The two will turn five years old in 2019.
During the International Rugby Tournament in 2018, the twins tried their hand at the sport by kicking around a ball. Princess Charlene also posted on Instagram a snapshot of the two celebrating their first haircut with a kiss and a hug. When they aren’t held up by their parents on the Monaco Palace balcony, they’ll peer through the railings at the crowd.
Coming up: the twins take NYC!
Charlotte Casiraghi, The Horse Riding Philosopher
Charlotte Casiraghi, daughter of Princess Caroline and eleventh in line to the throne, engages in her several passions alongside her royal duties. She has competed in horse riding tournaments throughout the 2009 and 2010 Global Champions Tour. She’s also the official equestrian “ambassador” of Gucci.
Charlotte also started a philosophy group called Les Rencontres Philosophiques de Monaco, or “Philosophical Encounters of Monaco.” Not only has she published her writing in magazines, but she also edits some of them. You can find her work in Above, Ever Manifesto, AnOther Magazine, and The Independent.
Prince Ernst’s Controversial Wedding
After five years of dating, Prince Ernst of Hanover proposed to his girlfriend, Russian fashion designer and filmmaker Ekaterina Malysheva in 2016. However, Ernest’s father, Prince Ernst Sr., did not attend his son’s wedding. His concerns ranged from a financial dispute with his firstborn child to the fate of family assets if he were to marry Ekaterina.
The public opposition didn’t stop the couple, though. They married in a civil union in 2017 and remain together to this day. Recently in 2019, Ekaterina gave birth to the couple’s second child; their first child was born in 2018.
The House Of Grimaldi Allows Personal Instagram Accounts
A few weeks after the announcement came that she was engaged to marry Prince Harry, Meghan Markle deleted her social media accounts. For privacy reasons, members of the British royal family are not to keep personal social media profiles.
The same doesn’t hold true with Monaco’s ruling family. Princess Charlene is active on Instagram and shares photos of her family. This one was captioned, “Happy New Year from Lapland! met up with Santa just to make sure he delivered all the presents to everyone.”
No Kings Or Queens In Monaco
Since Monaco is such a small country, with a population of just 38,000, it has traditionally aligned itself with other governments. For this reason, Monaco does not need a king or queen and is instead ruled by a prince or a princess.
In an interview with Larry King, Prince Albert elaborated on this. “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.”
Prince Rainier’s Dog Attended His Funeral
In 1985, at the age of 81, Prince Rainier passed away at a hospital where he’d been receiving treatment for kidney, heart, and breathing problems.
His funeral was held April 15, 1985, at the cathedral where he and Princess Grace had been married. At his request, Rainier’s dog Odin, which had been a present for the 50th year of his reign, walked as part of the funeral cortege. Prince Albert is seen in this photo, as well as Princesses Caroline and Stephanie, who are both wearing black shrouds.
Princess Grace Had A Great Sense Of HUmor
Princess Grace’s longtime assistant shared some intimate details about her employer’s sense of humor. “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,” she said to Daily Mail.
“The actor David Niven shared her love of banter,” she added. “There were gales of laughter every time he visited the palace.” Pictured here with Kelly is French Academician and Culture minister Maurice Druon in Paris in 1973.
An Amazing Royal Car Collection
Prince Rainier III was a car enthusiast and started collecting them in the 1950s. They’re now on display in a museum that was opened to the public in 1993.
Prince Albert II has continued the tradition and oversees the Royal collection of cars. He granted an interview to Auto Express in which he shared stories about some of his very favorite cars, including a 1959 Fiat 600 Jolly. “When I see the Jolly, I automatically think of summer,” he said.
Grace Kelly Had To Take A Fertility Test To Marry Rainier
While Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier’s courtship and marriage were like something out of a true modern-day fairytale, there were still some ‘unromantic’ royal customs that they had to adhere to. For one thing, the future Princess had to submit to a fertility test.
And as we read earlier, her father was told he had to pay a $2 million dowry for the wedding to proceed. This angered him, and Grace ended up paying for half of it with her own money.
The Family Has Met With Several Popes Over The Decades
Here, we see Prince Rainier, Princess Grace, Prince Albert, and Princess Stephanie during a private visit with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in Rome in 1974.
The family also met with 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 converted to Roman Catholicism in 2011.
Princess Grace Has A Star On The Walk Of Fame
As we know, Grace Kelly retired from acting at 26 so she could marry Prince Rainier. Four years later, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the motion picture category. As her royal duties as the Princess of Monaco came first, she did not attend the ceremony.
The Princess’ star is located at 6329 Hollywood Blvd. Hers is surrounded by other legendary Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, and Dorothy Lamour.
Prince Albert Bought Princess Grace’s Childhood Home
When Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly announced that they would be married, they took their official engagement photos in Kelly’s family’s Philadelphia home (pictured here). Sixty years later, Prince Albert purchased the house for $754,000 and said it would be used as the American offices for the Princess Grace Foundation.
Albert and his sisters had spent many Christmas celebrations at the home, and he said it was a place “very special to our family.” He also added that he was relieved to have saved it “from a near-certain death or development.”
The Royal Family Has A Love Of Yachting
The Grimaldi family has a long love of yachting. One of their best-known yachts was called Stalca. The name is an an acronym of Stephanie, Albert and Caroline. The 25-meter yacht was small by royal standards but the family didn’t want to attract too much attention while they were using it.
Despite its relatively small, Stalca featured four guest cabins including a VIP suite, master suite, and two double bunk cabins for the children. The yacht has changed hands many times in the years after the family first sold it.
Princess Grace’s Brother Ran For Mayor Of Philadelphia
Grace Kelly’s older brother John “Jack” B. Kelly Jr. was an accomplished athlete, a four-time Olympian, and an Olympic medal winner. Later, he became chairman of the Philadelphia County Democratic Party and ran for Mayor of Philadelphia in 1935. Although the city was heavily Republican, Kelly came close to winning.
Unfortunately, his campaign was derailed because of a much-publicized scandal involving a relationship with a transsexual named Rachel Harlow, formerly Richard Finnocchio. In this photo we see Grace, center, with sister Elizabeth and John B Kelly Jr.
The Monte Carlo Casino
When many people think of Monaco, they think of the Monte Carlo Casino. It’s a spectacular entertainment center that features a casino, the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, and the office of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo. The Grimaldi family has a majority interest in the property.
The Casino has been featured in many James Bond films. The fictional British spy is frequently associated with the location. The 2004 film Ocean’s Twelve, starring an ensemble cast of Hollywood superstars, was also filmed there.
Celebrating 700 Years Of Grimaldi Tradition
In 1997, the Grimaldi family commemorated the 700th anniversary of its reign since establishing Monaco in 1297. Ahead of 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.”
Prince Albert presided over the celebration’s organizational committee. Here is a guard overlooking the bay of Monaco before the start of ceremonies.
The Family Hosts An Annual Rose Ball
The royal family hosts an annual Rose Ball, or “Bal de la Rose,” which is a lavish, celebrity- and royal-studded gala for charity. The event is one of the biggest happenings of the year and pays tribute to Princess Grace with a display of 25,000 roses, her favorite flower.
Now hosted by Prince Albert and Princess Caroline, the event was established by Princess Grace of Monaco in 1954 and is held to benefit the Princess Grace Foundation. Pictured are Princess Alexandra of Hanover, Dimitri Rassam, and Charlotte Casiraghi at 2018’s ball.
Prince Rainier Proposed With A 10.48-Carat Ring
Adding to the fairytale-like quality of Grace Kelly’s transition to royalty is the stunning piece of jewelry she was given by Prince Rainier when he proposed. Made by Cartier, the ring was a delicate eternity band which was set with rubies and diamonds to represent the colors of Monaco.
Kelly wore the jewelry in her final movie High Society, which quickly turned it into one of the most famous engagement rings in the world.
The Royal Twins Visited New York City In 2019
Princess Charlene took her four-year-old twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, on a trip to New York City in early 2019. They bundled up against the winter weather and visited sites such as the American Museum of Natural History and the World Trade Center Memorial.
Charlene shared photos of the visit to her Instagram followers. This one, snapped at the World Trade Center Memorial, was captioned “First trip to NY. Great adventure and a wonderful experience!”
Prince Albert Owns The Most Expensive Car Key In The World
In March of 2019, it was reported that Prince Albert was purchasing the most expensive car key in the world — a gadget called the Senturion Key S177 Full Meteorite. It’s made with precious metals from a 4.9 billion-year-old meteorite found in Africa, and comes with a $269,521 price tag.
Only seven of the wrist-worn devices were made. Other owners include the Sultan of Brunei, footballer David Luiz, and Olympic champion Usain Bolt.
All About The Flag Of Monaco
The national flag of Monaco consists of two stripes of color: red and white. These have been the heraldic colors of the House of Grimaldi dating back to the 1300s. The country’s original flag also contained the royal family’s coat of arms. The current version was adopted under Prince Charles III, in 1881.
The Monegasque flag is nearly identical to that of Indonesia. Poland’s flag is similar and just has the color order reversed.
There’s A Flag That Can Only Be Flown In Prince Albert’s Presence
The Princely Standard is the personal flag of Prince Albert II. It has a white background and two red ‘A’s in the foreground and sometimes has a gold fringe around it. This is in accordance with the Monegasque Constitution, which dictates, “The Princely flag shall be made of the arms of the House of Grimaldi on a white background”.
The flag can only be flown in the prince’s presence and is frequently seen on cars he’s traveling in.
Prince Rainier And Princess Grace Are Buried Together
Princess Grace and Prince Rainier are buried side-by-side in Saint Nicholas Cathedral. Many other Grimaldi family members are also buried here. “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,” said the Archbishop who performed the funeral service for Rainier.
The site is open to the public, and is a top destination for visitors to Monaco. The grave is always topped with fresh flowers from the people of Monaco and those who are visiting.