Grace Kelly first met Prince Rainier III on a spring afternoon during the 1955 Cannes Film Festival. She had agreed to be photographed with Prince Rainier III of Monaco for French magazine “Paris Match”, and it nearly didn’t happen. The morning of the shoot, Grace’s hotel lost power and she seriously considered canceling, only to arrive and have Prince Rainier III detained from a prior engagement. Grace easily could have left without meeting the Prince whatsoever, and almost did. Yet, fate would have other plans. After the successful photo session concluded, Prince Rainier III and Hollywood actress Grace Kelly were seen walking and conversing in the garden of the palace together. This would mark the beginning of something truly magical.

As soon as Grace returned to America, they began a nearly daily correspondence. Their letters continued to be frequent but remained private as to keep the public unaware of their secret communications. Feelings for each other developed quickly and deeply. By December, Prince Rainier III wanted to see her again and flew to America where he not only met with Grace, but also met with her family. Three days after his arrival, he demonstrated his utmost certainty of his choice and proposed with the first engagement ring.

The Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly was about to take on her greatest role ever. It would be a little less than a year after her first visit to Monaco, that Grace returned by ship with her closest friends and family. On April 18, 1956, she and the Prince had an intimate civil ceremony in the Throne Room of the Palace. However, the following day, the exquisitely beautiful bride and handsomely uniformed Prince Rainier III were married in a formal ceremony in Monaco’s St. Nicholas Cathedral. On April 19, 1956, and at only 26 years of age, Grace Patricia Kelly became known to the world as Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco.

It was the wedding of the century, watched by 30 million people around the world, at a time when there were televisions in very few homes. Tens of Thousands of well wishers filled the streets. Over 1500 reporters descended on the tiny Principality, whose population was only 23,000 at the time. There were more reporters covering the wedding than had covered the entirety of WWII.

In February of 1957, the birth of Princess Caroline assured the succession of the Grimaldi reign. Fourteen months later, Prince Albert II was born and became the male successor. Princess Stephanie followed in 1965. The devoted parents went to great lengths to build a warm and nurturing home and limited the exposure of the children to the public. Spending quality time as a family was important to them and with trips and outings, they ensured that their family ties to the United States remained as strong as those in Monaco.