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A legendary Hollywood actress before she gave up her career to marry Prince Rainier III, Princess Grace helped to build Monaco’s global reputation.

Born in Philadelphia in 1929 to a family of entrepreneurs and athletes (her father won three Olympic gold medals and her brother won a bronze), Grace Kelly showed an inclination for the theatre at a very early age. At 18, she defied the misgivings of her Irish-Catholic background to successfully audition for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Having taken on modelling work to pay for her studies, she found success at the age of 23 with High Noon. It was Gary Cooper who suggested that she be hired for the film.

Now a public figure, she enjoyed a string of further successes, becoming the favourite actress of Alfred Hitchcock, for whom she filmed Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief. But it was for her role in George Seaton’s The Country Girl that she won her Best Actress Oscar in 1955, at the age of 24.

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© Robert LeRoy Knudsen

The same year, on the sidelines of the Cannes Festival, she was invited to a photo session at the Prince’s Palace in Monaco, where she met Prince Rainier III.

Following this legendary meeting, the Prince and the actress began to write to each other. They announced their engagement the following January, after Prince Rainier had been invited to spend the Christmas holidays with the Kelly family in the United States.

The “marriage of the century”, as it was quickly termed by the world’s media, took place in Monaco in April 1956 and was broadcast live around the world by the Eurovision TV network, attracting an audience of some 30 million.

Grace became Princess of Monaco and made a direct contribution to the increased prestige and autonomy that the Principality enjoyed on the international stage.

She worked to promote the arts, and particularly dance, in Monaco. She was also involved in many humanitarian projects, establishing the charity Association mondiale des amis de l’enfance (AMADE) and later the Princess Grace of Monaco Foundation. She was President of the Monaco Red Cross until her death.

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© Paramount publicity photographe

Princess Grace died tragically on 13 September 1982 following a car accident in Cap d’Ail, the commune which borders Monaco.

She was buried on 21 September 1982 in Monaco Cathedral.

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