Grace Dale, Prince Albert and Joan Dale (1987)
About the Book
Some years before my
mother, Joan Dale, passed away, I was helping her to sort through various boxes
of memorabilia. As we came across programs from elegant galas in Monte Carlo
and menus from luncheons and dinners at the Palace, she recounted stories from
the years that she had lived in Monaco while my father, Martin Dale, was Prince
Rainier's closest advisor.
My parents were at the Palace several times a week for formal events, and enjoyed many intimate occasions in Grace and Rainier's private apartments, as well as at their mountain retreat of Rocagel. They watched movies, danced, played golf together and even went bowling! Joan and Grace were the closest of friends, raising their eldest children together and going on month-long family vacations together, including a 17-day family cruise the month before Princess Grace's tragic death.
My mother wrote hundreds of letters to her parents, recounting the events of the day as they were taking place. She wrote regularly, as most people did in those days, openly sharing everything that was happening in her life, from embarking on adventures in Europe as the wife of a young U.S. Diplomat, followed by letters describing their dazzling life in Monaco. These letters provide a diary of her lifelong friendship with Princess Grace, and excerpts of these letters form the foundation for this book.
Over the years, Princess Grace had written over a hundred warm notes and chatty letters to Joan, sharing her thoughts and details of her family life and her endless duties as Princess of Monaco. These were almost always handwritten in her unique writing style, often on her monogrammed stationery. She also wrote postcards from her many travels around the world. She never forgot our birthdays, and always sent me gifts with loving notes to her goddaughter.
Prince Rainier also wrote about one hundred letters to my parents, carrying on correspondence until shortly before his death. Even after my father, Martin, left his service as Privy Counselor and Economic Advisor, the Prince often wrote to him asking for advice and counsel, repeatedly saying that my father was one of the only people he could trust.
The crown came with very heavy burdens for Prince Rainier, which he shared candidly with my father. His letters were full of deep philosophy, wistful regrets, endless frustrations and concerns, tremendous humor, and pride for his children. Many people think that royals can do whatever they want, but his letters often expressed that he was not a free man but was bound by duties and responsibilities, and committed to a small nation of people who depended on him. He devoted his life to protecting their rights and welfare to the best of his ability, and securing the future of his country.
In Prince Rainier's last letter to my mother shortly before he died, he sent a beautiful photograph of her and Princess Grace dressed in gorgeous gowns for a gala, with a note saying, "Dear Joan, going through old memories and pictures of those 'Good old days.' I think this shot would amuse you. Affectionately, Rainier."
Princess Grace visited us many times in our various homes in New York City, and we were invited to the Palace and to stay as guests at Rocagel, their private mountain hideaway above Monaco. However, most people did not know how close my mother was to Princess Grace, and even fewer have ever known that I was her goddaughter.
Princess Grace was an exceptional human being, and the experience of her love and light left an indelible impression on one's heart and soul. The energy around Princess Grace was warm and cool at the same time, calm like a placid lake and soothing like a gentle breeze. She spoke gently in her slow and thoughtful manner, with a voice that was almost hypnotic (her voice was so unique that one can easily still recognize it as hers to this day). She giggled and laughed often; when she laughed, she was even more radiant and enchanting. The only time that she was not smiling was when she was concerned about someone else's well-being, or when she was speaking about any form of injustice in the world.
Her Serene Highness was the perfect title for her, for she was the very embodiment of Grace and Serenity. She had a brilliant aura that shone so brightly, it could light up a movie screen and come right through the television, which is why Grace Kelly has continued to shine as a worldwide star for decades. As an Oscar-winning actress, she has become an enduring icon of style and beauty, and her Hollywood legend has long outlived her; but there were many more dimensions to her, and it is my hope that this book gives insight into the multi-faceted woman beyond Grace Kelly.
Some people may think that Princess Grace was "too good to be true," and some have dug deep in muddy waters in order to sling dirt on her memory. Whenever my mother got upset at the nonsense and lies printed about Princess Grace and her family, she would pick up her pen to write the truth – ultimately leaving copious pages for posterity. "My Days with Princess Grace of Monaco" lets you know the real Princess Grace, as my mother knew her.
This memoir was originally intended for my nieces and nephews, so they could know who their grandmother was, because they were born very late in my mother's life, and she was well aware that they were too young to really know or remember her. In honor of my mother and my godmother, I feel called to share these loving memories of two lovely women who led extraordinary lives in an extraordinary place at an extraordinary time.