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90 Years of Grace: The Princess’s Passions

Special photographer to the Pahlavi Dynasty [Public domain]

During her royal career, Princess Grace was active in supporting Monaco on the global stage. She focused her charity work to support the arts scene in Monaco, as well as flowers and gardening, healthcare, children, and motherhood.

Today, we’re going to take a look at Princess Grace’s patronages and charity work.

One of her first patronages was taking over the presidency of the Monaco Red Cross in 1958. She helped organise galas and benefits, and even the Bal de la Rose, in support of the Red Cross, and hosted children’s parties for the young people who benefitted from the organisation. Under her direction, the Monaco chapter of the Red Cross became one of the most active in the world.

Today, her son, Prince Albert II is the President of the Monaco Red Cross.

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She also officially opened the first daycare in Monaco in 1966 to allow mothers the opportunity to work outside the home; and she frequently visited retirement homes to spend time with the residents.

Princess Grace founded the Princess Grace Foundation in 1964 to provide “direct assistance not only to humanitarian activities for children, but also to cultural projects for students,” according to its website.

For its humanitarian endeavours, the Foundation’s primary aim “is to help children in hospital and their families” and supports numerous pediatrics units in French hospitals. Other aims include providing entertainment to sick children through bedside visits, film screenings or activities; building “Parents’ Houses” so that they can stay with their children; and supporting local associations at Christmas.

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For its cultural endeavours, the Foundation supports emerging artists and especially dancers at the Academie Danse Princesse Grace. It partners with the Fondation Prince Pierre to support young writers and musicians and also administers the Princess Grace Irish Library.

Princess Grace also supported La Boutique du Rocher through her Foundation, which continues to this day under the supervision of a trustee named Luisa Albanese. Through this, “the Foundation lends its support to local handcrafts in the two Boutiques du Rocher” where “many talented local artisans make everyday objects or baby clothes of very high quality by hand.” All funds raised go back to the Foundation.

Upon her death, Princess Caroline was awarded the presidency of her mother’s Foundation by Prince Rainier and helped focus more on the humanitarian efforts.

Also in 1982, Prince Rainier founded the Princess Grace Foundation-USA to support American artists – something his wife had been doing quietly throughout her royal life.

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“The Foundation was created to honour the legacy of his wife, Her Serene Highness Princess Grace…an independent American woman, Oscar-winning Hollywood icon, and globally beloved Princess of Monaco,” according to the Foundation’s website.

“Her family wanted to create an organisation that reflected her love for her native country and her profound dedication to the arts. During her reign, Princess Grace brought arts and culture to Monaco while also quietly supporting countless American performing and film artists. This is the legacy that inspires the Foundation’s mission.”

The Foundation presents the annual Princess Grace Awards that provides funding to American artists to pursue their work by identifying and elevating “emerging talent in theatre, dance and film via game-changing grants in the form of scholarships, apprenticeships and fellowships.”

The Princess Grace Foundation-USA holds all rights to Princess Grace’s image and likeness.

Grace also founded AMADE (Association Mondiale des Amis de l’Enfance), which works towards “the vision of a world where every child, whatever his social, religious or cultural origins are, would have the capacity to live in dignity and security, in full respect of his fundamental rights,” per its official website.

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Since Princess Grace founded the organisation in 1963, it has gone on to be recognised by the United Nations as a non-governmental organisation that “promotes and protects the ‘moral and physical integrity’ and ‘spiritual well-being of children throughout the world, without distinction of race, nationality or religion and in a spirit of complete political independence,’” per the Princess Grace Foundation-USA’s website.

Following her death, Princess Caroline assumed the presidency of AMADE and continues her mother’s work.

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Princess Grace founded the Monaco Garden Club in 1968, non-profit that aims to “promote the art” of arranging flowers and nature to “arouse the desire to appreciate better the beauty” of flowers. The Club hosts international flower competitions and displays, and since her death, is another charitable organisation that Princess Caroline has taken over.

In 1981, a rose was named in her honour: the Princesse de Monaco Rose, which features “creamy-white with gently wavy petals of carmine-pink,” according to its Wikipedia entry, that mimics the flag of Monaco.

Her daughters, Princesses Caroline and Stéphanie, also have roses named after them. Princess Caroline’s is creamy with a pale pink bloom; Princess Stéphanie’s is bright pink with a pale pink bloom.

Following her death, Prince Rainier commissioned the Princess Grace Rose Garden, which lives at the Fontvielle Park, in her memory. “The Rose Garden is laid out according to the principles of an English garden while retaining a Mediterranean character through the planting of hundred-year-old olive trees,” according to the Visit Monaco website.

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It was officially opened in 1983 and expanded several times in the years since.

In the ‘70s, Princess Grace lent her support to La Leche League International, a charitable organisation that promotes breastfeeding. She became the honorary president and spoke at the organisation’s fourth international conference in 1971, which led to the charity gaining widespread attention.

In an interview decades later, the founders of La Leche League International told the Journal of Human Lactation that, “In the old days, we had Princess Grace who was our honorary president, and she gave us a lot of clout, just by letting us use her name. She died prematurely, but she had given us so much authority.”

Speaking at the conference, Princess Grace said, “As a young woman of today, as modern as any, I believe, married with a husband and in normal expectation of a family, I had never considered anything else but breastfeeding when I should have children. I would’ve liked to have nursed my babies for a longer period of time, but, in the beginning, when they needed me, and I them, there were no compromises. State had to wait on [the] mother.

“You who have done and are doing such magnificent work, without fear or favour, in aid of the health and happiness of mother and child, thank you.”

In 1975, Princess Grace, along with Prince Rainier, launched the Academie Danse Princesse Grace to “establish a high-level dance school in the Principality of Monaco,” per the Les Ballets de Monte Carlo website.

Following her death, in 1984, the Princess Grace Irish Library was opened by Prince Rainier “as a tribute to the attachment his wife felt for her Irish origins.” Her grandfather had been during the Great Famine in 1847 in County Mayo, and she visited the two-room cottage during her state visit in 1961.

Housed at the Princess Grace Irish Library is her personal collection of Irish books as well as the complete collection of Michael E O’Donnell’s music scores, which she had acquired in 1978. The Library has also acquired other Irish tomes since its foundation, and also hosts conferences and symposiums in support of Irish culture.

The Princess Grace Irish Library is administered by the Fondation Princesse Grace.

In 1981, she helped renovate the Beaux-Arts Theatre in Monaco. It was renamed the Theatre Princesse Grace following her death. She also hosted poetry readings at the Edinburgh Festival yearly beginning in 1976; and formed the Printemps des Arts Festival (Spring Arts Festival) to support musicians and dancers.

About author

Jess is a communications professional and freelance writer who lives in Halifax and has a passion for all things royal, particularly the British Royal Family.