Grace Kelly won the role of a lifetime when she traded her Hollywood career for a tiara and married Prince Rainier III of Monaco, a small country surrounded by France and the Mediterranean. It was a real-life 1950s fairytale, but was Grace Kelly’s new life everything it seemed? When a tragic car accident killed the Princess almost 30 years later, people started to wonder: was it truly an accident… or could there be more sinister forces at work?
A Brief History Of Grace Kelly’s Life
Despite being shy and reserved in her private life, Grace Kelly stepped into the spotlight as a teenager and quickly became one of the most prolific stars of her generation.
After she was catapulted into the limelight with her first role as Gary Cooper’s love interest in High Noon, Grace soon started appearing alongside some of the biggest stars in Hollywood and came into her own when she began working with the famous British director Alfred Hitchcock.
In Dial M for Murder, she played a wife whose husband is trying to kill her. In Rear Window and To Catch A Thief, her elegant, wholesome image is contrasted with passion and romance. At just 26, Grace Kelly won an Oscar for best actress.
Now that Grace Kelly had reached the height of her career, she embarked on an entirely new adventure: she met Prince Reinier III of Monaco, they fell in love and he proposed. Thirty million people watched their fairytale wedding on TV. Everything looked perfect, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long…
Happily Ever After?
Despite the initial euphoria surrounding her wedding, Grace Kelly didn’t live happily ever after. Her once attentive husband quickly lost interest in her and allegedly started having extra-marital affairs within months of the wedding.
Grace did find happiness in her three children; she settled into her new role as a mother and they made good memories in their holiday home Roc Agel, high up in the mountains of Monaco. It was the last house Grace would ever set foot in.
How did Grace Kelly die?
On September 13th 1982, a car was making its way down twisting French mountain roads when it missed a turn, flew through the air, tumbled down a cliff and crashed into a flower seller’s backyard. Seventeen-year-old Princess Stephanie and her mother Grace were in the car. Both Princesses were rushed to the Princess Grace hospital.
Within two hours of the crash, the palace released a statement. Despite the intensity of the crash, the Princesses had apparently survived with ‘minor injuries’ including broken bones and bruising. The palace were also quick to say that brake failure had caused the crash.
People all over the world breathed a sigh of relief, but they had relaxed too soon: the next day, Grace Kelly was dead.
Investigating Grace Kelly’s death
In a chilling coincidence, Grace Kelly had shot a scene in To Catch A Thief on the very same road where she was destined to die over 20 years later.
Captain Roger Bencze of the French police was put in charge of investigating Grace Kelly’s death. His job wasn’t easy: Grace Kelly’s crash occurred on French soil, but it involved members of Monaco’s Royal Family.
The two countries had written up decrees on when and if French laws should apply to Monaco, which made investigating the death a little tricky as Bencze had to step on the toes of the Royal Family to find out the truth.
Bencze arrived at the scene of the crash less than an hour after the tragedy and found that Princess Stephanie had been conscious upon landing while Grace was passed out. He then studied the area for any evidence that Grace had tried to avoid a crash, but the road was clear.
Upon investigating the car for mechanical failure, Bencze discovered that the brakes and steering wheel were still working. There were no signs of sabotage. He concluded that mechanical failure did not cause the crash; the Palace’s official statement was incorrect.
When Bencze tried to examine Grace’s body, he was denied access. He tried to interview the surviving Princess Stephanie but was turned away. What did the palace have to hide?
A truck driver who had been travelling behind Princess Grace – making him the only eye witness to the crash – said that her car had been zigzagging erratically down the road before it flew over the side of the mountain. Could Grace have been fighting with her daughter and not paying attention to the road?
Stephanie was always somewhat wild and unfocused, which was hard for her mother. She was dating an aspiring race car driver that her mother didn’t approve of. Grace had tried to get her daughter into a prestigious French fashion school, but enrollment was only a few weeks away and Stephanie was refusing to attend. Their relationship was certainly strained on the day of the crash.
Who was driving the car?
Grace Kelly was normally driven by a chauffeur, but on the day of the crash her daughter Stephanie had said she wanted to keep some dresses in the back seat to avoid them getting wrinkly. Grace decided she and her daughter would drive down alone.
So who drove the car? Grace Kelly was found unconscious in the back seat, where she probably landed on impact as neither princess was wearing a seatbelt.
Grace was a notoriously bad driver who didn’t like to get behind the wheel, and had been open about her uneasiness on that particular stretch of road, so for her to drive down it would have been very unusual. Furthermore, all eyewitnesses from the scene of the crash reported that Stephanie left the car from the driver’s seat.
At seventeen, Stephanie was too young to drive. If she had been behind the wheel, the consequences could have been dire. So is it possible Stephanie was the one driving the car that fateful day? Could that be what the palace was trying to hide?
Find out in Grace Under Fire, exclusively on True Royalty TV