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The Princess Grace Foundation turns 60

Dressed in a satin gown, a dazzling 25 year old woman from Philadelphia reaches a milestone that most actors can only dream of. Her hair is held up with flowers, her hands are covered in long white gloves. Her eggshell-blue dress is broadcast in black and white to 43 million viewers across the United States during the 27th Oscar ceremony, Grace for the second time featured in the national telecast of the Oscars. Grasping a golden statuette, the young actor’s elegance and joy is absolutely palpable. Her voice wavers slightly during a short and tender speech. “The thrill of this moment keeps me from saying what I really feel. I can only say thank you with all my heart to all who made this possible for me,” she says.

1954 will forever be known as the year of Grace. She had four top-budget films released that year and a fifth already begun. Her photo was on the cover of the April 1954 issue of Life Magazine with the caption ‘Hollywood’s Brightest and Busiest New Star.’
Just one year later, Grace Kelly meets a young Prince in Monaco. Falling for him means a whole new life with very different pinnacles, worlds away from the film sets of Hollywood. In 1956, Grace Kelly retires from the screen to marry Rainier III and become Monaco’s princess.

The Princess Grace Foundation turns 60
Grace Kelly holding her Best Actress Oscar for “The Country Girl” on March 30, 1955 © Alamy.com

“All people are capable of great things,” — Princess Grace

When Grace Kelly retired from acting at age 26, she threw herself into her duties as Princess of Monaco. She began charity work, focusing on young children and the arts. In 1964, she established the Princess Grace Foundation, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
The aim of the Princess Grace Foundation is to help children in hospitals and their families. It purchases equipment for the treatment of young patients and helps provide entertainment for sick children (booking clowns to make hospital visits, organizing cultural events and celebrating holidays). The Foundation also helps children’s parents by paying for stays close to their child’s hospital and financing the construction of Parents’ Houses. Seventeen parents’ houses have been renovated or created by the Foundation all over France, in cities like Paris, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lyon and Nice.

Award-winning studies in Medical Research for children

The Foundation also supports pediatric medical research and is currently supporting three renowned French medical laboratories who specialize in children’s diseases. At the Necker children’s hospital, under the direction of Professor Jean-Claude Weill, the Foundation supports the study of immunological memory in vaccination and auto-immune diseases.
Secondly, Dr. Nadine Cerf-Bensussan’s studies on gut microbiota and the unexpected identification of a unique bacterium essential in protecting the intestinal immune barrier is also supported by the Foundation. The project aims at transforming this bacterium into a vaccine against enteric infections, which remain a major cause of mortality in children in developing countries. This work was awarded with the INSERM Research prize in 2014 and the Mäki prize from the University of Tampere (Finland) in 2018.
Thirdly, at the Robert Debré Hospital in Paris, directed by Professor Pierre Gressens, the Foundation supports a laboratory which focuses on foetal and newborn brain development. Preterm birth is the most common cause of death and disability in children under 5 years of age in the developed world. There is no treatment to prevent or mitigate these issues. In recent years, the laboratory has significantly contributed to designing potential strategies for neuro-protection.

The Princess Grace Foundation turns 60
Princess Caroline, Hereditary Prince Albert and Prince Rainier III of Monaco attend the Princess Grace Foundation Dinner in Washington DC, February 18, 1984© Alamy.com

Princess Grace Foundation-USA: Sown by the seeds of grief

During her reign, Princess Grace brought culture and a focus on the arts to Monaco while also quietly supporting countless American performing and film artists. After Princess Grace’s tragic death, her family decided to create an organisation that reflected the love she had for the USA and her profound dedication to the arts. In 1982, Prince Rainier III honoured the legacy of his wife by creating the Princess Grace Foundation USA.

“I would like to be remembered as someone who accomplished useful deeds, and who was a kind and loving person. I would like to leave the memory of a human with a correct attitude and who did her best to help others,” — Princess Grace said.

The Princess Grace Foundation-USA upholds the legacy of Princess Grace by elevating emerging artists in theatre, dance and film through career-advancing grants. Open to artists currently living and working in the United States, the Foundation’s Princess Grace Awards offers cash grants of $15,000 to extraordinary artists every year.

The CEO of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA is two-time Tony Award winning Broadway producer and investor, Brisa Carleton. She has the personal distinction of being one of only 100 investors for the smash musical: Hamilton. Her successful multi-million dollar investment portfolio has been involved in financing over 30 Broadway shows and global live entertainment properties. On behalf of Prince Albert II, Brisa Carleton is also the Chief Executive Officer of Grace Influential, which is commissioned by the Princess Grace Foundation.

The Princess Grace Foundation turns 60
Princess Grace of Monaco in 1982 © Alamy.com

Princess Caroline, President of the Princess Grace Foundation

After Princess Grace passed away, Prince Rainier III appointed Princess Caroline as the President of the Princess Grace Foundation. In her new role, the Princess of Hanover decided to give financial assistance to cultural activities. Emerging dancers from the Princess Grace Dance Academy in Monaco and musicians from the Académie Rainier-III are given grants through the Foundation as they embark on their artistic careers. In connection with the Fondation Prince Pierre, the Foundation also awards annual prizes to young writers and musicians.

The Princess Grace Foundation turns 60
Christian Louboutin, Princess Caroline of Hanover, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and Stéphane Valeri attend the traditional charity Rose Ball in March, 2023 © Pierre Villard / SBM

40 years of the Princess Grace Irish Library

A jewel of culture in the Principality, the Princess Grace Irish Library was inaugurated by Prince Rainier III four decades ago as a tribute to his wife and the affection she had for Ireland. The library houses a superb collection of rare books and Irish-American musical scores that the Princess had collected throughout her life.
Placed under the aegis of the Princess Grace of Monaco Foundation, the library currently has an online catalog which includes Princess Grace’s personal collection of more than five hundred Irish books and a thousand rare Irish-American musical scores.
Precious works of art and photographs of visits to Ireland carried out by the princely family of Monaco since 1961 are also part of the library’s collection. An important hub of Irish culture, the library is widely respected for its contribution to Irish studies around the world. The library’s President is Princess Caroline and Prince Albert II is its Vice-President.
For 60 years, the legacy of an Oscar-winning icon and a globally beloved Princess continues to thrive in the noble and compassionate work of the Princess Grace Foundation.

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