“And they lived happily ever after”… Not every love story has a happy ending, especially when it comes to the bluebloods. Sometimes they do not have the luxury of marrying the person they love because their marriage has been arranged. But does that mean royals ca never be happy in marriage?
The Princely family of Monaco has one of the most intriguing stories. For 700 years, love problems have haunted every member of the House of Grimaldi. Each royal wedding gives hope to the Monegasque people for a bright future for the newlyweds, whilst the media keep a close watch on every step they make.
Legend has it that in 1297, a Genovese nobleman, Francesco Grimaldi, captured the Rock of Monaco. Dressed as a monk he entered the fortress, opened the gate and seized Monaco’s castle with his men. Drunk with power, Francesco started cruelly killing heretics and witches. Even his beloved could not escape this terrible fate. Dying at the stake, she cursed the Prince’s family for generations to come, saying, “Never will a Grimaldi find true happiness in marriage.”
We can only imagine what happened back then, but looking at the history of the Grimaldis, full of treason, divorces, tragic events and deceptions, one unwittingly becomes superstitious.
For instance, Catherine-Charlotte, wife of Prince Louis I, up and left her spouse. The French aristocrat accustomed to the splendour of Versailles, preferred to be a mistress of the French king Louis XIV.
Since then, the list of cuckold husbands has increased significantly. Mary of Lorraine, wife of Prince Antoine I, was unfaithful to her husband, Catherine de Brignole – wife of Prince Honoré III – left her husband and chose to stay with Prince of Condé. The marriage of Honoré IV with Louise d’Aumont-Mazarin failed as well. The couple broke up after 11 years of marriage. Charles III was also affected by the family curse. His wife Princess Antoinette died young.
The eminent scientist and explorer Prince Albert I was also haunted by the curse of love trouble. In 1869, the 20-year-old ruler of Monaco married Mary Victoria Hamilton, but after 11 years the couple ended up separating. Nine years later, Albert tried his luck again tying the knot with Alice Richelieu. Princess Alice turned out to be a great patron of art, and thanks to her efforts the theatre of Monte Carlo became popular throughout Europe. But thirteen years later, the royal couple broke up with a scandal. Ironically, the episode took place in the theatre, where Albert I (in front of all the high society) accused his wife of infidelity and slapped her in the face.
Half a century later, another tragedy shook the Rock. Princess Grace had a stroke while driving her Rover back to Monaco from Mont Agel. The car drove off the road and fell down a cliff. As expected, the car accident involving the former Hollywood star provoked hype. The details of the car crash fuelled rumours saying that Grace’s daughter Stephanie was at the wheel of the Rover. It took 20 years for Princess Stephanie to break the silence and deny this version of the event. The official cause of death was a minor stroke, which caused the accident.
Unable to bear the loss of his beloved wife, Prince Rainier III never married again. In 2005, he was buried next to Grace in the Grimaldi family vault. Their happy 26-year marriage seemed to have broken the curse, but eventually the curse proved stronger than love.
Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace’s children weren’t as lucky in love as their parents. Princess Stephanie was on the bad end of an affair. In 1995, she married her bodyguard Daniel Ducruet giving him two children. But soon after, the new member of the Grimaldi family was caught by paparazzi in the arms of Muriel Mol-Houteman, Miss Bare Breasts of Belgium, 1995. However, Princess Stephanie bounced back and in 2003 married a Portuguese acrobat. But that marriage ended in divorce on 24 November 2004.
Princess Caroline was as lucky in love as her little sister Stephanie. In 1978, the 21-year old Grimaldi married a Parisian banker named Philippe Junot. The couple divorced two years later, after the French quadragenarian turned out to be a bon vivant and a playboy. In 1980, Princess Caroline was granted a canonical annulment of the marriage by the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1983, Caroline could not resist the charm of Stefano Casiraghi, Italian businessman and heir to an industrial fortune, and walked down the aisle again. The happy couple had three children. But after seven years the curse caught up with the princely family: Stefano was killed during the boat race in 1990.
Caroline’s present husband is Prince Ernst August V of Hanover. However, the couple lives separately. From time to time Princess Caroline goes to Monaco, where her 17-year-old daughter Alexandra lives.
After tragedy and loss, Caroline is now enjoying her days. Her eldest son Andrea and his wife, Tatiana Santo Domingo, welcomed a grandson after eight years of marriage. Caroline’s youngest daughter, Charlotte, is often compared to her beautiful grandmother Grace and could have become a world style icon. Instead, Charlotte chose family life with the French actor-comedian Gad Elmaleh, and spends her time with charities and horse riding. Nevertheless, in May 2016, Gad announced their breakup in New York, saying that Charlotte and their 2-year-old son Raphael “live in Europe” where Gad goes occasionally to see his family.
Another promising union for Monaco – Pierre Casiraghi and his wife, Beatrice Borromeo, who comes from an ancient aristocratic Italian family. Their wedding took place last August. Well, this classic equal marriage between the representatives of blue blood cannot cause misalliance.
The current ruler of Monaco, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II, was in no hurry to tie the knot and enjoyed life of a rich price. The blue-blooded bachelor had allegedly dated Sharon Stone, Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and many other well-known beauties. However, in 2011, the Monegasque Prince chose his Princess as a professional swimmer from South Africa, Charlene Wittstock. But shortly before the wedding, rumours flew around Monaco saying that the future Princess tried to escape to South Africa the night before the wedding. Fortunately, the wedding did take place, and in 2014, Charlene gave birth to twins – Jacques and Gabriella. Perhaps the arrival of the babies will strengthen the Royal couple’s bond and will finally put an end to a series of family tragedies and love failures of Monaco’s Princely family.
Legends are often just legends, but the history of tragic Grimaldi love stories makes one wonder whether the curse of the Flemish witch is real or if it is just the price for the free will in choosing life partners.