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© Palais Princier de Monaco, Michel « Michou » Simon / Paris Match & Edward Quinn

In 2019, an extraordinary exhibition looked back at the very first meeting between Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly, in the exact location where the legendary bolt of lightning struck: the Prince’s Palace in Monaco.

The dress worn by the future princess that day, as well as personal items, letters, first-hand accounts, diary extracts and films all help visitors to relive that day on 6 May 1955.

Initially, it was a simple meeting arranged between the Hollywood star, who had recently won an Oscar and was visiting the Cannes Festival, and Prince Rainier III, one of the most eligible bachelors in Europe at the time.

It was a brief stop in the schedule of the young film star, who had come to the French Riviera to promote The Country Girl, a year after having filmed Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief in the region.

© Palais Princier de Monaco, Michel « Michou » Simon / Paris Match & Edward Quinn
© Palais Princier de Monaco, Michel « Michou » Simon / Paris Match & Edward Quinn

Since the Prince was late, Grace Kelly had the opportunity to visit his Palace without him. They spent their meeting walking through the gardens, where a tiger in a cage awaited them. According to legend, Rainier impressed the actress by sticking his hand through the bars of the cage to stroke the big cat, which had been brought back injured from a trip to Africa.

A handful of shared moments, a few phrases exchanged, some meaningful looks and a bond was forged in the gardens of the Prince’s Palace, observed by two photographers.

Some 300 images of this first meeting, the beginning of the love story between a couple who became world famous, immortalised the moment.

These photographs, belonging to the archives of Irish photographer Edward Quinn or loaned by Paris-Match, provided the basis for the exhibition.

Princess Grace of Monaco, who died in a tragic car accident in 1982, would have celebrated her ninetieth birthday this year.

© Palais Princier de Monaco, Michel « Michou » Simon / Paris Match & Edward Quinn
© Palais Princier de Monaco, Michel « Michou » Simon / Paris Match & Edward Quinn

An hour and twenty minutes of history, but they were hugely important for Monaco.”

 

Thomas Fouilleron, Director of the Prince’s Palace of Monaco Archives

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