Since the tragic death of Princess Grace of Monaco in 1982, her family has never been the same. Her husband, the late Prince Ranier never remarried. Princess Caroline has been de facto First Lady of Monaco for 23 years. Her youngest daughter, Princess Stephanie, lives under the shadow of rumors and questions regarding the accident. Out of her children, her death has probably affected Prince Albert and Monaco's future, the most.
Prince Albert has stated on several occassions, the difficulty of finding a spouse who can live up to the inevitable comparisons to his mother. And there is a tremendous amount to live up to. Elegant, serene, beautiful, Grace Kelly was the best thing to ever happen to Monaco; she put the country, smaller than New York's Central Park, on the map. It's also hard to compete with someone whose grave is Monaco's major tourist attraction.
Until the 2002 changes to the constitution allowed for Prince Albert's sisters and their children to inherit the throne in the event he remained a bachelor, there was concern about when he would get married, to whom, and when he would produce the requisite heir to save Monaco from losing its independant nation status to France. To the relief of everyone, the law was changed. The discussions about Prince Albert's love life haven't.
Every woman that Prince Albert has ever openly dated, stood next to, or talked briefly with, have been compared to his mother. The stunning supermodel Claudia Schiffer, with her blonde hair and blue eyes, came close to matching Princess Grace's loveliness. Should she have married him, she too would have kept people talking about Monaco. Alas it was not meant to be.
Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie, although glamourous and beautiful, cannot be compared to their mother physically or tempermentally. It must be difficult to live up to a mother who publicly never put a foot wrong. Which is really too bad. Thus the pressure on Prince Albert to find a replacement.
In the absence of a wife for Albert, her grandchildren have now come into play. Her eldest granddaughter, Charlotte Casiraghi, has been compared to having the elegance and stylishness of her grandmother; despite looking absolutely nothing like her. The Princess'genetics continue with Andrea and Pierre Casiraghi, both of whom look like they've stepped out of a Calvin Klein ad. As of yet, Princess Stephanie's children are too young to know whether they can fill the void.
Princess Grace's death was more than just a tragic accident. Monaco lost a special, irreplaceable jewel in the process.
Time will tell if they can ever replace it.
© Marilyn Braun 2005
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