Grace Kellys life – giving up millions, secret will, cause behind fatal crash

Hollywood icon Grace Kelly is one of the most inspirational actresses of all time.

The epitome of the phrase golden icon, her talent and fashion styles made her a beloved star across the world, famous for her performances in Rear Window, High Society and The Country Girl.

However, she went from Hollywood royalty to real life royalty, when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1957.

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For the rest of her life, she continued to inspire and help others through her royal duties, before her tragic death aged 52 years old.

On the 40th anniversary of Grace Kelly's death, Daily Star takes a look at the golden icon's life.

Hollywood fame

Grace Kelly starred in some of the greatest films of the classic Hollywood era, after making her film debut in 1952's High Noon.

She was later cast in the film adaptation of the Broadway play Dial M for Murder, before collaborating with Alfred Hitchcock on some of her most famous work including Rear Window, opposite fellow acting icon James Stewart.

Two years after her feature film debut, Grace also won the Academy Award for Best Actress, following her role in The Country Girl opposite Bing Crosby.

Her final film role came in 1956, when she starred in High Society with Fred Astaire and once again, Bing Crosby.

However, it was her film career that would lead her into the next phase of her life as a princess.

Actress to princess

In 1955, Grace headed the US delegation at the Cannes Film Festival, where she was invited to participate in a photo session with Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

Their meeting was to bring romance, with the Prince and Grace courting for more than one year, before announcing that they were to be married.

Their wedding consisted of two ceremonies, with the first held at the Palace Throne Room of Monaco on April 18, 1956, followed by a reception attended by more than 3,000 citizens from Monaco.

A second church ceremony was held at Monaco's Saint Nicholas Cathedral the following day on April 19, which was watched by more than 30 million people across the globe.

Following their marriage, Grace and her husband welcomed their first child Princess Caroline on January 23, 1957.

Their son Prince Albert was born one year later on March 14, 1958, followed by youngest daughter Princess Stephanie on February 1, 1965.

Reflecting on his parent's marriage, Prince Albert wrote in Paris Match: "If my mother, Grace Kelly, had not been invited to the 1955 Cannes Film Festival, I would not be signing these few lines today."

He also revealed that his parents began to get to know one another when Prince Rainer III invited Grace for a tour of the palace gardens, adding: "It was nearly 4 p.m. when my father finally appeared in the royal antechamber. A few shots were made. The famous handshake photograph, posed.

Then, as they took a tour of the palace gardens, Prince Albert wrote: "The atmosphere changed.

"The couple relaxed… My father, at ease, let his charm work and a dialogue began."

Royal life

After marrying into Monaco's royal family, Grace retired from acting and devoted her life to her royal duties.

She was said to have paid $2m, the equivalent of $20m in 2022, as a dowry in order to marry into the Grimaldis.

This included becoming the Presidents of the Red Cross Of Monaco, the Garden Club of Monaco and the organising committee of the International Arts Foundation.

Grace devoted her duties to philanthropic work, holding an annual Christmas celebration with presents for orphaned children in Monaco.

She also formed the Princess Grace Foundation in 1964, which supported local artists.

However, she did not leave the world of entertainment entirely, as she provided narration for documentaries including The Children Of Theatre Street and The Poppy Is Also A Flower during the sixties.

Grace also became one of the first female board members at 20th Century Fox Film Corporation in 1976.

Fatal car accident

In 1982, Grace was involved in a fatal accident.

It is reported that she lost control of her car and subsequently, the vehicle drove off a mountainside.

Her daughter Princess Stephanie, who was also in the car with her, said that she had tried to stop the car by grabbing the handbrake.

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, eldest daughter Princess Caroline said: "'Stephanie told me, 'Mommy kept saying, I can't stop. The brakes don't work. I can't stop.'

"She said that Mommy was in a complete panic. Stephanie grabbed the hand brake.

"She told me right after the accident, 'I pulled on the hand brake but it wouldn't stop. I tried but I just couldn't stop the car."

Sadly, Grace suffered fatal injuries in the accident including damage to the brain and thorax, and on September 14, 1982, her husband Prince Rainier III made the heartbreaking decision to turn off her life support.

She died at the age of 52 years old.

Her daughter Princess Stephanie, who was also in the car with her, suffered injuries including a hairline fracture and concussion.

The Daily Express reported that following Grace's death, they discovered that the actress had suffered a "cerebral vascular incident," which had contributed to her losing control of the car.

During a 2015 interview, Princess Caroline explained that Grace had not been feeling well, and that Princess Stephanie had said her mother "seemed to blackout for a moment."

"She was incredibly tired. The summer had been very busy. She hadn’t stopped going places and doing things all summer long," said Princess Caroline.

"She’d done too much. She never mentioned it or complained about it though — but she wasn’t in great form."

The Hollywood icon's funeral was held on September 18, 1982 at the Cathedral Of Our Lady Immaculate, and was attended by the star's close friends including Cary Grant.

At the time of her death, Kelly was said to have $27,000 to her name and her grandfather's cottage in County Mayo, Ireland to her name.

She was then buried in the Grimaldi Family Vault and in 2005, her husband was buried alongside her following his death.

Insider revealed that the Hollywood icon was said to have three wills – one American, one Irish, and a secret one which was kept in the Grimaldi family vaults.

Wealth advisor Gemma Godfrey said: "We've asked to see a copy but the palace said that it's not publicly available," she said. "They've told us that Prince Albert and his family don't wish to disclose its content.

"If you look at the wealth now of that royal family, her successor Charlene Wittstock is rumoured to be worth $150 million."

Legacy

Grace Kelly is the epitome of a golden icon, leaving a legacy as one of the most talented actresses of all time for her work in classic Hollywood films.

As such, she is one of the many icons to have been commemorated with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

Her son, Prince Albert, founded the Princess Grace Awards in 1984 – two years after his mother's death – to recognise emerging performers in film, theatre and dance.

He told USA Today: "We (her family and friends such as Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant) knew it was what she wanted to do; she loved theater, dance and film and she knew how difficult it was at the beginning of careers to make ends meet.

"She thought this would be necessary and meaningful to all these young artists to have this kind of support."

The Princess Grace Foundation was also founded in Monaco by her husband, to continue the philanthropic work that she had carried out in life.

Grace was also considered one of the most fashionable Hollywood stars of all time, and subsequently inducted into the International Best Dressed Hall Of Fame lists in both 1955 and 1960.

Her influence on popular culture has also been felt in the decades since her death, with both Madonna and Mika referencing the star in their songs, and Billie Eilish wearing a gown to the Met Gala 2021, inspired by Grace's dress in the 1955 film To Catch a Thief.

Speaking to USA Today, Prince Albert II of Monaco reflected on why his mother's legacy still endures today, saying: "It was her personality and the way she engaged with people, she touched the lives of so many around the world and not only through her acting.

"When she passed away we got calls from all over the world, from countries she hadn’t even visited. It was unbelievable and still is."

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