Pity the poor subjects of Monaco. For years the principality’s 30,000 residents have found tracking the beaux of playgirl Princess Stephanie as amusing a numbers game as anything inside the casino. And now here she was talking about her “growing maturity” and announcing her intentions to settle down with not a celebrity or a rock star but a run-of-the-rumor-mill real estate agent, Jean-Yves Le Fur, 26. To make matters more tame, the engagement, announced last week, had the blessing of her strict, conventional father, Prince Rainier. The only topics left for Monegasques to wag their tongues about were the couple’s short courtship-Stephanie, 25, met her man at a friend’s country home outside Paris last September—and her gushing comment to Paris Match, “I know my life is at his side.”
Admittedly, her relationship with Le Fur flies in the face of Stephanie’s accustomed dating logic, which seemed to consist of passionate flitting between the bad and the beautiful. The youngest Grimaldi has dallied with actors Rob Lowe, 26, and Christopher Lambert, 33, as well as the progeny of two French film idols: Jean-Paul Belmondo’s son, Paul, 27, and Alain Delon’s son, Anthony, 25. As recently as last fall, she was thought to be almost engaged to American record producer Ron Bloom, 39, her L.A. love since mid-1988. Bloom was an improvement over Stephanie’s earlier escort, L.A. nightclub owner and sex offender Mario Oliver, 37, whom Rainier banned from his not-quite-square-mile kingdom.
In contrast, Le Fur, the son of an architect, has already built a foothold in Stephanie’s life. By all accounts, the athletic, dark-haired Jean-Yves is the mysterious stranger who set sail with Stephanie in the Caribbean over the Christmas holidays. Caught kissing him clad in a tank top and skimpy bikini, Stephanie was next seen in February (and in more clothing) skiing with her Parisian love in the French Alps. In March, the princess was photographed in her Los Angeles backyard, engaged in a topless tiff with Le Fur. Breathe easy: The argument ended in a clinch.
Proof of Jean-Yves’s respectability surfaced in early April, when he squired Stephanie to Monaco’s annual Festival of Magic and a boxing match, where he joined his future father-in-law and Steph’s siblings, Caroline, 33, and Albert, 32, in the royal loge. In a matter of days, talk of an engagement was in the air.
On Saturday, April 21, Stephanie, dressed in black Yves Saint Laurent and sporting a Boucheron diamond, broke the news at a private party for 50 at Le Telegraphic, a trendy Paris restaurant on the Left Bank’s Rue de Lille. While her father skipped the do. Caroline and Albert were there, as was a none-too-camera-shy De-Ion. Sharing in the good wishes was another delighted duo, Thierry Roussel (the ex of Christina Onassis) and Gaby Landehage, who are tying their own knot May 12. After a dinner of caviar, fish with truffles, filet of beef and a bitter chocolate dessert—all washed down with champagne—the couple drove off to their newly acquired apartment on the outskirts of Paris.
Left in their wake was speculation over when the wedding would take place—it was rumored to be in June, but as of last week no date had been set—and which Paris designer would make the bride’s dress. Some skeptics questioned if Stephanie would make it to the altar at all. Still, she insisted that this was at long last love. “I’m tired of people saying whatever they please about my life. I want to set the record straight,” she told Paris Match. “My love story with Jean-Yves is something very important to me, and I don’t want people to talk about it in the wrong way.”
—Tim Allis, with bureau reports