The Principality of Monaco got a new Princess on the 23rd of January 1957, when Princess Grace gave birth to baby Caroline Louise Marguerite.
Born within the Palace’s walls, the new baby weighed 8lbs 2oz (or 3,6 kgs) and was presented to the Monégasque population a few days after her arrival into the world.
For 14 months, she was heiress to the throne, until her brother, Prince Albert, was born on the 14th of March 1958. Strangely, it would not be the only time in her life when she was next in the line of succession.
Baby Princess Caroline was christened on the 5th of March 1957 in Monaco’s Cathedral (also known as Our Lady Immaculate Cathedral, or St Nicholas Cathedral). Her godparents were Margaret Davis, her maternal first cousin, and Prince George Festetics de Tolna. The Prince is the grandson of Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton and her second husband, Prince Tassilo Festetics de Tolna. Lady Mary Victoria’s first husband was Prince Albert I of Monaco, and they became parents of Prince Louis II, Caroline’s great-grandfather.
The Princess and her siblings had pretty “normal” childhoods, spending time with their grandparents in Philadelphia, United States, and attending summer camps. She was also a part of the Guides of Monaco, the Principality’s version of the Scouts.
Princess Caroline attended St Mary Ascot School, in the United Kingdom, where she obtained A levels, and graduated in France, obtaining her baccalaureate with honours in 1974.
Following one semester in the prestigious Science Po university, she moved to La Sorbonne, where she graduated with a major in philosophy and two minors in psychology and biology.
The Princess then made her way back to Monaco to carry out her duties as a Royal.
In 1978, when she was just 21 years old, she married French banker Philippe Junot, 17 years her senior. The wedding was attended by about 65 guests, including Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra.
In 1979, she was appointed by her parents as President of the Monegasque committee for the International Year of the Child, a role that demonstrated the esteem in which she was held by her parents, despite her marriage, which was contracted against her parents’s wishes.
In 1980, she divorced Junot, ending the marriage without children. In 1992, the Catholic Church’s tribunal, the Sacra Rota, granted an annulment of the religious wedding, allowing the children from her Casiraghi marriage to be recognised as born into a Catholic wedding and, therefore, take their place in the line of succession.
In 1981, Princess Caroline founded “Jeune j’écoute”, which in turn set up a hotline which young people could call to chat about their issues with qualified personnel. This was another accomplishment that her parents were very proud of.
This was confirmed in April of 1982, when, in an interview to People magazine, Princess Grace said of her daughters: “[They are] warm, bright, amusing, intelligent and capable girls. They’re very much in tune with their era”.
And then, five months later, tragedy struck the Principality. Princess Grace suffered a stoke while driving, which resulted in an accident that claimed her life, and left her youngest daughter, Princess Stéphanie, with severe injuries.
Princess Caroline was 25, at the time, and, distraught by the death of her mother, she had to step up to serve as the Principality’s First Lady, a role she kept until 2011.
In December of 1982, she received several appointments from her father, including Monaco Garden Club and Monaco’s Arts Festival; most importantly, by Sovereign Decision, she was named President of the Princess Grace Foundation.
In 1983, she became patron of the Guides of Monaco, which in 1992 was renamed Association of Guides and Scouts of Monaco.
In December of the same year, Princess Caroline married Italian industrial heir and sportsman Stefano Casiraghi. The wedding was only celebrated in a civil ceremony, as for the Catholic Church she was still married to Junot.
On the 8th of June of 1984, she gave birth to Andrea Albert Pierre Casiraghi at the Princess Grace Hospital’s Maternity ward.
In 1985, during a press conference in Paris, Princess Caroline announced the establishment of Monte Carlo’s Ballets, fulfilling a wish of her late mother, who loved ballet.
On the 3rd of August 1986, the Princess gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Charlotte Marie Pomeline.
On the 5th of September 1987, the couple’s third child came into the world, again at Princess Grace Hospital; it was a baby boy, whom they named Pierre Rainier Stefano.
In 1988, Prince Ranier named his eldest daughter President of the Administration Council and President of the Literary Council of the Prince Pierre of Monaco Foundation.
In 1990, just 8 years after losing her mother, Princess Caroline had to endure the loss of her husband. Stefano Casiraghi died in a sailing accident during a race, right under the horrified watch of his wife, who was cheering him on from the shore.
Shortly after Stefano’s death, Princess Caroline decided to move her entire family in France, to a small village, where she could focus on healing and giving her children the privacy that the Principality had never awarded her.
In 1992, she received the Presidency of the Artistic Council of the International Contemporary Art Prize.
In 1993, she became President of AMADE (Association Mondiale Amis De l’Enfance, or World Association of Friends of Childhood in English), an NGO founded in 1963 by Princess Grace, with the aim of protecting the physical and moral integrity of children.
On her birthday in 1999, she married Prince Ernst August of Hannover in a civil ceremony at Monaco’s Princely Palace. Six months later, Princess Caroline of Hanover, as she is now titled by marriage, gave birth to her fourth child, a daughter. Princess Alexandra Charlotte Ulrico Maryam Virginia of Hanover was born on the 20th of July 1999 in Vöcklabruck, Austria, and was named after each of her godmothers.
In 2003, Princess Caroline was named Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO by then-General Director Koïchiro Matsuura, for her work in protecting children and guaranteeing education for girls and women.
On the 6th of April 2005, Prince Rainier passed away, following years of health issues. A few days earlier, because of his declining health condition, Prince Albert hadbeen made regent, and upon the death of Prince Rainier, he became Sovereign Prince.
Prince Albert was not married at the time and his two illegitimate children were not eligible to inherit the throne (before 2002 they would have been if the Prince had adopted them; however, with the change in Monaco’s constitution, that option was struck down), and so Princess Caroline not only kept her role as First Lady, but she also became once again Heiress Presumptive to the Monegasque throne.
In December of 2005, her brother awarded her the honours of Commander of the Cultural Merit for her work in promoting culture and the arts in the Principality.
In 2011, Princess Caroline got the job of designing the dresses for Prince Albert and Princess Charlene’s wedding. As patron of the Monte Carlo Ballet, she collaborated with them to design the flower girls’s dresses, which were a copy of Monaco’s traditional dress, and each of them was personalised to each of the six girls that got the role.
In May of 2014, she was promoted to Commander of the Order of Arts and Literature in France by Culture and Communication Minister Aurélie Flippetti.
In July of the same year, Army general Jean-Louis Georgelin, Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honour in France, awarded Princess Caroline the honour of Commander of the Order of Agricultural Merit.
Since December of 2014, she is no longer the Heiress presumptive to the throne, following the birth of her niece and nephew, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella. Despite Princess Gabriella being older than her brother by 2 minutes, male precedence still applies in the Principality, making Prince Jacques the next in line to the throne.
In 2002, Prince Rainier passed Princely Law 1.249 (which, in accordance to the Franco-Monegasque treaty of 1918, was ratified by France in 2005), which stated that “if the Sovereign Prince assumes the throne and then dies without a legitimate direct heir, the throne will pass to his dynastic siblings and their descendants according to the rule of male-preference cognatic primogeniture”. Before this law, the throne could only be inherited by the direct descendants of a Sovereign Prince, thus excluding parallel bloodlines, such as siblings and nephews.
Princess Caroline turns 65 this year, and she does so in a strong position within the Principality. She still retains many of her patronages and roles, and is currently resuming her role next to her brother, since her sister-in-law, Princess Charlene, has been away from the Principality for the better part of 2021, and is currently recovering from a mysterious illness in an undisclosed facility.