In a rare treat, Prince Albert of Monaco opened the palace doors for a rather personal tour. The reigning monarch took CBS Sunday Morning through the Monaco palace, poignantly remembering his mother, Grace Kelly, along the way. Set high on the sparkling Mediterranean shore, the palace dates back to the 12th century, seemingly splashed with memories of Grace in every corner.
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Grace with her children and Albert (all grown up) with his at the palace Photo: Getty Images
“There’s a famous picture of my – I think it’s famous, you can tell me that! There’s a picture of my parents exchanging glances with the view of Monaco in the background,” Albert said, while walking the palace grounds during the interview. His parents, of course, were Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly. Their 1956 wedding transformed Grace from a Hollywood royal into a real-life Princess.
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco at their wedding Photo: AFP/Getty Images
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Grace, who is celebrated for films like Rear Window and To Catch a Thief, became an Oscar-winner for her performance alongside Bing Crosby in The Country Girl. She retired from acting at 26-years-old to marry Rainier and raise their children (Albert and his sisters, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie). “She was a very loving and caring mother,” Albert told CBS Sunday Morning. “She not only made sure that she gave us enough attention and enough love and that we had everything we needed, but she was so caring toward other people, too.”
Princess Grace and her family in 1976 Photo: AFP/Getty Images
However, just because Grace gave up acting didn’t mean she left behind her Hollywood friends. Albert recalled the glittering list of visitors his mother used to host at the palace: “Alfred Hitchcock, Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra… how could you forget them!” Albert then laughed saying: “he [Cary Grant] and my father used to have a have a field day telling jokes!”
The palace shines with bright memories of Albert’s mother Grace. On the tour, the Prince showed viewers where he played growing up, and a rather modern looking pool designed by Grace. Inside, the Salle de Garde (the old guard’s room) is currently used as a family room. The Prince said his mom wasn’t originally fond of the decorating style, so she asked his father if she could redo it. “We’ve had these blue-colored walls since then,” Albert said, gesturing to the rich-colored paint.
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Princess Grace presides over the formal reception room with a stunning portrait. Done by American artist Ralph Cohen, shortly after Grace’s wedding, the large painting looms on the wall. Grace’s history is carefully conserved at the palace with her childhood photos, letters, passports, clothing and jewels existing in the home like museum. Perhaps most notably preserved there are the gown she wore to accept her Oscar and her engagement ring from Prince Rainier.
Grace in her famous Oscars gown Photo: Getty Images
Prince Albert and his wife, Princess Charlene, are ensuring that Princess Grace’s legacy also lives on through her charity. After Grace’s death in 1982, her husband began the Princess Grace Foundation-USA to give scholarships to students in the performing arts. This was because Grace had long offered support to struggling new performers in private. “It’s to celebrate Princess Grace’s living legacy for supporting the up-and-coming artists, emerging talent, and giving hope and inspiration to many others out there,” Princess Charlene said of the foundation. “She knew what young artists go though,” Albert added, “and what their aspirations are, and sometimes that they don’t have the means to continue their careers.”
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Over almost 35 years, the foundation has given more than 850 grants out. Some recent recipients include: Oscar Isaac (seen in the Star Wars films) and costume designer Paul Tazewell and actor Leslie Odom, Jr., won Tony Awards for their work on Hamilton. “It was an encouragement,” Leslie said, “a wink from this industry that I love so much, and this business that I was preparing for saying ‘We believe in you,’ and there might be a place for you here.”
When asked about his favorite "Grace Kelly film," Albert was torn: “I kind of hesitate between High Noon and Rear Window.” With Grace’s last movies made over 60 years ago, her son is enthralled with how lasting her legacy is. “It’s incredibly rewarding and touching to see how much people still admire her, and that her name still resonates today,” he said.