In everyone’s life, there is a most important person whose gifts and influences stay with you forever. Grace’s ‘super’ person was a young man named Harper Davis.
Grace met Harper Davis in September 1943, he was the classmate and friend of her brother Kell, from the William Penn Charter School. At this point, Grace had turned from the thin, sickly, and fragile little girl to a stunning teenage girl. Grace was fourteen and Harper was almost 17. He was her first date (a dance at her school) and will become her first and greatest true love. His first gift to her was an Orchid for the dance.
As soon as he reached 18 years old, he joined the Marines to fight in WWII. They wrote daily letters, something Grace would eventually do with Rainier. Grace kept a scrapbook, which is housed at the palace archives to this day, with all her dates and meeting with Harper, such as theater tickets, even gum wrappers. A Wrigley gum wrapper has the notation in Grace’s handwriting “Chewing Gum Harper gave me on New Year's Eve.”. In the same scrapbook is an envelope with a small card that reads “To Grace with Love, Harper”, and the notation “My Pearl Bracelet”. No date or reason is given.
In late 1946, almost two years after he joined the Marines, Harper was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Harper battled the disease for more than 6 years. He died in 1953 in his mid twenties. Grace visited him so often at the hospital, she was holding his hand when he died. Grace asked the director of the movie 14 hours, to give her two days off so she could attend his funeral. When she returned to the shooting, Grace made sure she had one of his ‘Peal Bracelets’ on for the rest of her shots. Every movie and every important occasion in her life, including her wedding day to Prince Rainier, she had on at least one of his ‘Pearl Bracelets’.
The bracelets were bought by Harper, a young man of little means (his father was a ‘Buick Salesman), and we believe he bought these bracelets, one at a time for different occasions, at an FW Woolworth store. Most of the ‘pearl essence’ was worn off, but that did not stop Grace from wearing any of the bracelets for the most important occasions of her life, and for everyday use when she wanted to look just ‘pretty’.