March 1, 2015

Prince Albert Reflects on Princess Grace

I’m not sure who out there has read the words with which Prince Albert recently described his late mother, but if you haven’t yet, it might be worth a skim.

I love Prince Albert to pieces, but he’s endearingly tongue-tied when it comes to expressing his affection. Come to think of it, it may just be due to the discomfort of discussing something so personal in such a public forum, and I don’t blame him at all for that. Albert said some lovely things about his mother, but it seemed tough for him to get his thoughts out smoothly. That being said, it’s worth some of our time here to turn the spotlight to Princess Charlene’s predecessor, so we can appreciate her more fully…and tap into what Albert was trying to say.

I love Princess Grace. As a devoted follower of Princess Charlene and royalty in general, she is constantly on my radar. I feel like she’s the one who brought stardom to monarchy, the reason paparazzi lenses are always crusading after royal fashion and whereabouts. Before Grace, monarchies seemed drab and unreachable; her presence, however, pulled royals into the spotlight, giving us royal watching as we know it today.

We all know her as Grace Kelly, the famed Hollywood starlet who won the heart of a prince, right around the same time Disney princesses started popping up all over the place. Granted, she had to give up her career as an actress in order to become a princess, but she knew what she was doing, so I will not bore you with any saga on the matter here. I’d have chosen to be a princess too!

Originally a Philly girl (any readers familiar with Kelly Drive? It was, of course, named after Princess Grace’s family. After many years in Philly myself, I never knew this until now!), Princess Grace’s father was an Olympian, which is a rather strange coincidence for Monaco’s royal family to have so many connections to the Olympics. I can’t help but think that Albert might have been influenced by his mother and her heritage when he first laid eyes upon Charlene…and they don’t look too dissimilar from one another, either. Beauty for beauty.

Indeed, Charlene has a lot in common with her late mother-in-law beyond her looks, Olympic legacy, and Albert. Both Foundations that these royal ladies founded center around things dear to their pre-wedded hearts: the arts and theater for Grace, swimming for Charlene. They both also have an affinity with children, and as most of Charlene’s charitable work is focused around little ones and their wellbeing, so was her predecessor’s. Grace founded the Association Mondiale des Amis de l’Enfance (AMADE), a children’s organization, and she started the yearly Christmas Party for children in Monaco, a tradition which Albert and Charlene faithfully continue every year. In many ways, Grace was the original princess of the people, reaching out and touching children and their families’ lives and pushing community service. Princess Diana followed closely in Grace’s footsteps in this way, very shortly after Grace’s death in 1982, and now the current young royals are following suit.

Something random that draws my interest so fixedly, though, is that she threw her support behind La Leche League, an organization known by moms worldwide for its advocacy for breastfeeding (have a question, day or night? Call ‘em. Too much milk? Too little milk? Just annoyed and need to vent about your breastfeeding pillow that’s not working? They have answers. Praise God for this resource!) Given the time and place in which she was doing this, it made her something of a pioneer – with Monaco’s proximity to France, which is famous for bottle feeding, and the time in which the bottle held superiority, it’s pretty remarkable that she was willing to put herself out there as an advocate for nursing mothers. Her dedication to family health seemed to radiate through every aspect of her voice.

We could talk on and on about her acting career or her famous wedding, but we’ll save those topics for another time. Today, we can just reflect on Princess Grace’s love, how she loved her family and children, and how she extended that love to her community without pause. I think that’s what Albert was trying to say in his brief interview: she was very, very loving, and she cared about people very, very much.

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