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Granny Knows Best: the grandparents of Albert II of Monaco

By The Chancellery of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, CC BY-SA 3.0 pl

Today we’re looking at the grandparents of Albert II of Monaco: a Monegasque princess, a French count, an Olympic rower, and a gym teacher. Unfortunately for Albert, none of his grandparents were alive to see him ascend to the throne in 2005.

Prince Pierre, Duke of Valentinois

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Prince Albert’s paternal grandfather was born in France in 1895 as Count Pierre de Polignac. His early life was spent in France, and in 1920, he married Princess Charlotte, heir to the Monegasque throne, changing his name to Grimaldi. They had two children: Princess Antoinette and Prince Rainier (who later ascended as Rainier III).

The couple spent their early married life in Monaco, and worked to improve the image of the principality, however by 1930 they were separated and their divorce was finalized in 1933. Not much is known about his later life, though he died of cancer in Paris in 1964.

Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois

Princess Charlotte, grandmother of Prince Albert II (Wiki Commons)

Prince Albert’s paternal grandmother, Princess Charlotte, born in 1898, was the daughter of Louis II of Monaco and Marie Juliette Louvet. Her parents weren’t married, and despite a law passing in 1911 that stated she was Louis II’s daughter and heir, it wasn’t until 1919 (when a new, valid law was enacted) that allowed her legal adoption as daughter and heir that she became a member of the Monegasque Princely Family.

Princess Charlotte married Count Pierre de Polignac in 1920, and the couple had two children, including Prince Rainier, born in 1923. The day before her son’s 21st birthday, in 1944, Princess Charlotte renounced her rights to the throne of Monaco, and in 1949, he ascended as Prince Rainier III.

Later in life, Princess Charlotte spent her time at the Grimaldi Family’s house outside Paris, and died in 1977.

John B. Kelly, Sr.

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The maternal grandfather of Prince Albert was Olympic rower John B. Kelly, Sr. John, known as Jack, was a prominent member of Philadelphia society. He was a business magnate who built his fortune in construction; but he was also one of the most decorated Olympic rowers in history, having medalled at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp and the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

When he retired from the sport, he married Margaret Majer and raised four children in Philadelphia: Peggy, John, Grace, and Elizabeth. He and his wife pushed their children to excel in all of their pursuits, and expected them to be athletic and outdoorsy (John Kelly Jr. was also an Olympic rower). His third child, Grace, later became a famous actress and Oscar-winner, though he never set much store by her accomplishments—he often told friends and family that his eldest daughter should’ve been a star instead of Grace.

When Grace announced her engagement to Prince Rainier of Monaco, John was involved in the planning, but made it known that he wasn’t impressed by royalty to the media, quipping “I told the Prince that royalty didn’t mean that much to us, and that I hoped he wouldn’t run around the way some Princes do.”

Jack died in 1960.

Margaret Kelly

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The maternal grandmother of Prince Albert, born Margaret Katherine Majer, was a German-American physical education teacher who promoted healthy lifestyles along with her husband. She became heavily involved in social and civil events after her children, including the later Princess Grace, began to attend school, and held prominent positions for educational and medical associations.

Margaret died in 1990, the longest-lived of Prince Albert’s grandparents.

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.