The origin of Charlotte of Monaco: Grace Kelly’s ‘dreaded’ mother-in-law

The history of Monaco It is not one of the best known among European royalty, but that does not make it less interesting. The last generations have contributed greatly to this, for example, the absence of Charlène from Monaco in recent months, as well as all the legend and mystery surrounding her wedding to Prince Albert. The lives of Carolina and Estefanía they have also filled some pages of the history books and there is still much to know from the youngest of the clan.

However, if we travel back in time, we see that there are many other moments that marked the history of the principality, such as the Prince Rainier’s wedding, since it is not every day that a Hollywood star becomes a princess, fulfilling one of the most common clichés in movies, the commoner who leaves everything for love after meeting the prince of her dreams. The tragedy that caused the death of Grace Kelly it was also a huge shock to everyone.

Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly. (EFE)

Although the figure of Grace has achieved shine with its own light, there was another woman before her who was responsible for the salvation of the Monegasque principality, his mother-in-law, Carlota Grimaldi (1898-1977), responsible for keeping the family on the throne, but also for Monaco to continue being an independent country, both for the simple fact of existing, but important details at the end of the day.

It was the possibility of Monaco becoming French territory that led to Carlota was recognized as her father’s daughter, since until that moment she had been considered the illegitimate daughter of Louis II of Monaco (1870-1949), having been born as a result of a relationship outside of marriage.

A daughter without recognizing

They began to be worried in the principality, because Luis had his birthday and still did not marry, leaving the country without an heir. However, it seems that his plans were very different, because, according to the chronicles, he had met in Paris to a woman for whom he drank the winds.

In the Parisian capital, Maria Julieta Louvet was an artist divorced and with two children who ran a cabaret, But he had to emigrate to Algerian lands, so he, who at that time was serving as an officer of the Third Regiment of Hunters, managed to also be assigned to Algiers. Carlota was born as a result of their romance who, as we say, was not recognized as her father’s legitimate daughter.

Portrait of Princess Charlotte of Monaco, by Philip de László. (Prince’s Palace of Monaco)

Despite not being recognized, her father saw to it that the young woman will not lack anything during her childhood, at least in the economic field, since his dealings with both the mother and the daughter were scarce, if not null, since I had returned to Monaco only a year later from the birth of the little girl to take care of her training as a future prince.

Luis made sure that the young woman received enough money, as well as an education to match than would be expected in the daughter of the heir to the throne. Finally, in 1911, when Carlota was 13 years old, she decided to recognize her paternity by granting her the noble title of Mrs. Valentinois, not so the surname Grimaldi.

The annexation of Monaco to France

Time passed and the The health of Prince Albert, Louis’s father, was increasingly fragile, which was a problem for the principality. Luis seemed to have no intention of marrying and, therefore, provide a legitimate heir and Prince Albert was feared to pass away before being able to solve the dynastic questions.

This, which at first glance seems like a simple problem to solve, is not so easy in the principality: if the head of state without legitimate descendants, the country would cease to be independent and it would go on to be tutored by French authorities. On the other hand, it was feared that, if the monarch died without descendants, the principality would pass at the hands of the Count of Württemberg, German blood. The strategic location of the principality, on the border with France, made this not the best option for the French.

Carlota Grimaldi, with her father, her husband and their two children. (Cordon Press)

Thus, and to avoid possible situations that were not in accordance with the powers of the moment, a law was promulgated that allowed the heir to the throne to adopt and this child would have all the rights of succession. Thus, Luis adopted his own daughter Carlota in 1919 And now, yes, he gave her his surnames. The problems related to the Monegasque throne did not stop with this, as they continued to find dissatisfied voices, but this would be another story.

For her part, Carlota married just a year later with the count Pierre de Polignac, French aristocrat and very close friend of Marcel Proust, with whom it was said at the time that he had a relationship that was more than friendship.

Actual divorce

This marriage, organized by Carlota’s father, It did not have a happy ending, or yes, but they did not eat partridges. Ten years later and after the birth of their two children, Antoninette and Rainier III, future prince of Monaco, the couple divorced and they began their separate ways.

Named persona non grata in Monaco, Pierre moved to live in Paris, from where he traveled to the border every time he wanted to see his children, with which he always maintained contact, in fact he was the one who accompanied Rainiero to Los Angeles to ask for the hand of who would later be his wife. Until his death, he received from Carlota a maintenance of 500,000 francs a year.

Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, in 1965. (Getty)

Pierre’s relationship with Grace Kelly appears to have been quite cordial, prompting the that was between the actress and her mother-in-law was never good. This is how it was collected in the biography ‘Grace Kelly: The Last Secrets’, by Wendy Leigh: “Grace and Rainier had a very good relationship with Prince Pierre, but Carlota and Pierre had not had a happy divorce. Grace and Pierre did hit it off a lot, so Carlota didn’t hit it off with her. It’s that simple. “Or: “Grace had a lot of problems with Rainier’s mother. The coldness was not the worst thing about Carlota’s attitude towards Grace. ”

A friend more than a mother

“Either princess antoinette she felt too satisfied by her brother’s marriage to an American actress… ”, according to the same book. Carlota was never a mother to use, in fact on some occasion Rainier came to point out that she was more of a friend than a mother.

Once divorced from Pierre, she moved to France leaving her children under the care of his grandfather. It was at the Château de Marchais that he settled until his death and where his remains rest. There he was able to enjoy his passions, even reaching Get a college degree in social work.

Prince Albert, his wife Charlène and his sisters, Carolina and Estefanía, in a file image. (EFE)

In 1944 he renounced his rights to the throne, which caused that five years later, after the death of Luis II, it was Rainier who assumed the throne of the principality. Meanwhile Carlota was seen on very few occasions, one of them, her son’s wedding, and focused all your efforts in your solidarity work, defending the human rights of French prisoners, including turning his home into a help center for ex-convicts. There he lived with his lover, René Girier, a famous jewel thief whom he never married.

Although society applauded their solidarity work, it came to worry their children, especially during the last years of his life, in which they began to doubt that their faculties were in the best conditions. On 1977, Carlota Grimaldi passed away in Paris at 79 years of age.

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The origin of Charlotte of Monaco: Grace Kelly’s ‘dreaded’ mother-in-law