When they first met, Grace Kelly was an Oscar-winning actress and Prince Rainier was . . . a prince. And though their relationship may have been more high-profile than most, their courtship had some surprisingly “normal” elements.
These everyday moments — as well as the extraordinary ones — are examined in the new book, Grace Kelly: Hollywood Dream Girl, by Jay Jorgensen and Manoah Bowman. In the book, Lizanne Kelly LeVine, Grace’s sister, says Rainier fell into their family almost immediately. She and her husband Don LeVine had Grace and Rainier over for dinner in the days that followed their 1955 engagement, and were pleased with how seamlessly the royal meshed with them, even taking on chores that he’d likely never done at the palace — including the doing the dishes!
“Don and I were at our own little apartment, and we asked them over for dinner,” she said. “He fit in very well—even helped with the dishes. Rainier, when we first met him, I think might have been a little shocked with us when we’d say ‘Come on, Rennie,’ you know. But he fit into the family beautifully.”
Just before their engagement, Rainier visited Grace at her childhood home just outside Philadelphia for her family’s annual holiday party, where he got to know the star and her family better. He stayed in the area for two more days, where they truly fell for one another — and Rainier proposed.
“[They were] away from all public focus, walking in the woods, driving through the mountains and talking about life and values — and they fell in love,” said Judith Balaban Quine, an actress and one of Grace’s eventual bridesmaids during her 1956 wedding to Rainier.
They didn’t make their engagement public until January 1956, and the month before, Grace hosted a party in New York to introduce her friends to her new fiancé. Balaban Quine says that the two were clearly “wildly in love” and “adorable together.”
“They were both these wonderfully attractive people that had all this romantic charm, intelligence and wit, and coziness,” she said.
The next month, they announced their engagement, and shortly after, Grace started filming what would be her final feature film, High Society. Production had been sped up to accommodate her April 1956 wedding, and it wrapped in time for her to sail to Monaco on April 4 and say “I do” just over two weeks later.
“[It was] so hectic and quick and frantic,” Grace later recalled of her engagement. “There was no time to sit and think about anything.”
Buy it! Grace Kelly: Hollywood Dream Girl by Jay Jorgensen and Manoah Bowman, $28; amazon.com