Monaco Royal Family scandals, tragedies and heartache

Monaco Royal Family scandals, tragedies and heartache


The ‘curse of the Grimaldis’: Inside the Monaco Royal Family scandals, tragedies and heartache – so is an eight-word hex uttered by vengeful witch to blame?

  • Monaco’s royal family has suffered tragic deaths, sudden divorces and scandals 
  • But is the ‘curse of the Grimaldis’ to blame for Prince Albert’s family tragedies? 
  • For all the latest Royal news, pictures and video click here 

Monaco’s Royal Family has suffered tragic deaths, sudden divorces and headline-grabbing paternity claims all because of the ‘curse of the Grimaldis’ – or so the legend would have you believe.

The family has been rarely out of the headlines with their tangled love lives and stormy feuds but was it the curse, or merely cruel luck and unhappiness?

It is said a spell was put on the Grimaldi family – which has ruled Monaco for more than 700 years – that meant none of their marriages would ever survive. 

Some say it all dates back to 1297, when the first Grimaldi, Francesco the Spiteful, tricked the principality’s defenders by disguising himself as a monk, only to kill them. 

Other myths suggest the curse was put on the family by a witch after she was either raped or kidnapped by one of the Grimaldis and sought revenge.

‘Never will a Grimaldi find happiness in marriage,’ she is supposed to have uttered. 

How the Daily Mail reported Princess Grace’s death on September 14, 1982, following the devastating crash she was in while driving with her daughter Princess Stephanie

And the curse was supposedly given renewed vigour in 1515 by Claudine of Monaco when she warned on her deathbed that no Grimaldi should ever ally himself with a foreign power.

But whatever the truth may be, utter devastation struck in 1982 when Prince Rainier’s fairytale marriage to Hollywood legend Grace Kelly ended in tragedy.

Meanwhile, in recent months current ruler Prince Albert II, 65, and his wife Princess Charlene, 45, have been dogged by speculation about their marriage.

Here, we explore the Monaco Royal Family’s turbulent and tragic marriages…

Princess Caroline’s three marriages 

Princess Caroline’s love life has been chequered with sadness. 

The eldest child of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier has had three marriages, one of which ended in her being widowed. 

While studying philosophy, psychology and biology at the Sorbonne in Paris, she met and married French playboy Philippe Junot in 1978 – much to her parents’ dismay.

The princess bride was just 21, while the groom was 17 years older.

Princess Caroline pictured on her wedding day to Philippe Junot in 1978, with her father Prince Rainier pictured left and her mother Grace Kelly behind

The couple shared a 17-year age gap and divorced after two years together

Her parents were said to be dismayed by the relationship, here the couple are pictured on their honeymoon 

But it was not meant to be, and, after two tumultuous years, they divorced. 

It would be in 1983, a year after her mother Princess Grace’s sudden death, that Princess Caroline would find love again and marry Stefano Casiraghi, the son of an Italian businessman. 

As her first marriage to Philippe had not yet been annulled, they wed in a civil service rather than a religious one. The couple went on to have three children – Andrea, Pierre and Charlotte.

But tragedy struck for the Princess when Stefano died aged 30 in a speedboat racing crash off the Monaco coast in 1990.

Reports at the time said his catamaran hit a wave at 93mph before it somersaulted. He had been defending his powerboat champion’s title and it was said to be the last competition he was planning to participate in. 

Husband number two: Princess Caroline pictured with Stefano Casiraghi and their children Charlotte, Pierre and Andrea at the christening of Pierre in 1987

The Princess in mourning: Caroline pictured at her husband Stefano’s funeral while being supported by her father Prince Rainier

Caroline was in Paris when the news was broken to her. Their children were aged just six, four and three. 

A friend who saw the accident said at the time: ‘He told me only a day ago that it would be his last race. It was too dangerous and he was too fond of his family to take any more risks.’ 

It was the second time in eight years that the family had been plunged into mourning after the death of Princess Grace. Stefano lay in state, with his open coffin illuminated by glittering chandeliers as crowds filed past, paying their last respects.

Princess Caroline would go on to marry for a third time in 1999, her groom being Prince Ernst-August of Hanover, a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth.

Husband number three: The royal, now 66,  is separated from her third husband, Prince Ernst-August of Hanover (pictured together)

From left to right: Princess Caroline’s son Pierre Casiraghi, his wife Beatrice Borromeo, Andrea Casiraghi, his wife Tatiana Santo Domingo, Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, Christian Louboutin, Charlotte Casiraghi, her husband Dimitri Rassam, Ben-Sylvester Strautmann and Alexandra of Hanover at the Rose Ball in Monaco in 2022

Six months later, their daughter Princess Alexandra, was born.

But Caroline was faced with more heartbreak when just days after the death of her father Prince Rainier in 2005, it was revealed her husband was in a coma in hospital. 

Officials at Princess Grace of Monaco Hospital said at the time he had ‘life threatening’ pancreatic problems. 

He would go on to recover but became somewhat of a controversial figure and was known for his tempestuous nature.

The pair separated in 2009. The grandmother is now 66, and has not remarried.

Princess Stephanie’s colourful love life

A 17-year-old Princess Stephanie had been the only passenger in the car crash that killed her mother.

She was seriously injured and suffered immensely after the incident, including being hounded over false reports suggesting she had been behind the wheel at the time of the crash.

She was dubbed the wild child of the family, and had a series of romantic liaisons that were said to have left her father Prince Rainier on the brink of despair.

Stephanie dabbled in modelling and singing, and was linked to a string of celebrity lovers including Rob Lowe, Jean-Claude Van Damme and former Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.

In 1991, she became involved with her former bodyguard, Daniel Ducruet, and the pair had two children out of wedlock – Louis and Pauline – before marrying in 1995.

It was reported that Princess Stephanie’s father Prince Rainier was reluctant to give his consent.

A year after walking down the aisle, the marriage was left in tatters when Stephanie’s husband was caught cavorting with a woman who had previously won the title, Miss Nude Belgium.

Princess Stephanie (pictured with her first husband in 1996), now 58, became involved with her former bodyguard, Daniel Ducruet in 1991

Then in 1998, Stephanie welcomed a daughter, Camille, but controversy surrounded her birth after the Princess would not reveal who the father was.

As such, Camille is not included in the line to the Monegasque throne, unlike her brother Louis and her sister Pauline.

Camille herself has identified former palace security guard Jean Raymond Gottlieb, who is understood to have been head of Stephanie’s security detail when they started a relationship, as her father in a gushing birthday post shared on Instagram in 2017.

Camille is the daughter of Stephanie and former palace security guard Jean Raymond Gottlieb, who is understood to have been head of the princess’s security detail when they started a relationship. Pictured, the pair in 1997

Daddy’s girl: Although he is not named on her birth certificate, Camille has no problems publicly referring to Jean-Raymond as her father on social media 

Although Camille shares Gottlieb’s surname, his name is not on her birth certificate and Stephanie has never publicly confirmed that he is Camille’s father.

In 2001, Stephanie eloped with an elephant trainer, along with her three children, before returning to Monaco.

That relationship came to an abrupt end and, two years later, she married Portuguese circus acrobat Adans Lopez Peres, almost 10 years her junior, in secret.

It was suggested that none of her three children, or siblings Prince Albert and Princess Caroline attended. A mutual friend of the couple at the time said: ‘Love hit them both like lightning.’ 

But the marriage ended in divorce 10 months later.

In 2003, the royal wed a Portuguese circus acrobat Adans Lopez Peres (pictured together) – a marriage which also ultimately ended in divorce less than a year later

Princess Stephanie and her children in 2021:  Pictured is Pauline Ducruet (left) Princess Stephanie of Monaco, Camille Gottlieb and Louis Ducruet

The marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene

As he approached his 50s, Prince Albert seemed destined to be a bachelor having never married, or had a serious public romance. The well-heeled residents in Monaco were desperate for a Princess and royal baby who would be next in line to the throne.

Then in 2000 he met South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock at a Monaco aquatic competition. The pair – who have a 20 year age gap – began dating soon afterwards but didn’t appear in public as a couple until 2006. 

Their star-studded three-day wedding – thought to cost around £53million – took place in July 2011.

But it supposedly wasn’t the fairytale wedding it seemed, with Princess Charlene said to have attempted to flee the country days earlier using a one-way ticket to Johannesburg.

During the wedding, she was also in floods of tears, while her husband looked on impassively, sparking much speculation. Later in the year, Princess Charlene confessed she felt ‘very lonely’ in Monaco.

The couple shared another awkward kiss during the religious ceremony on July 2

Their twins – daughter Gabriella and son Jacques – were born three years later and are seen as the family’s official heirs, despite Albert having fathered two illegitimate children before he dated Charlene. 

In May 2005, just before he was enthroned as Prince of Monaco, Albert confirmed he was the biological father of Alexandre, whose mother was Nicole Coste, a former Air France flight attendant from Togo.

A DNA test in May 2006 also confirmed Albert was the father of Jazmin Grace, the result of an affair with Tamara Rotolo, an American estate agent he met while she was on holiday in the South of France in 1991.

In 2021, Charlene took a medical hiatus in South Africa and Switzerland, just as  another paternity suit surfaced for Albert. 

She spent most of that year away from her husband and children in her native South Africa after contracting an ear nose and throat infection. 

Shortly after her return to Monaco the royal was admitted to a European treatment facility in Switzerland for exhaustion, both ’emotional and physical’. Charlene missed the seventh birthday of her twins Gabriella and Jacques and her tenth wedding anniversary with Albert.  

Blended family! In November, a photo showed Prince Albert of Monaco II pictured in New York together for the first time with two children by two of his former lovers, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, 31 – whose mother is American waitress Tamara Rotolo – and her half-brother Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, 19, the son Albert shares with Nicole Coste.

Prince Albert II of Monaco, Princess Charlene of Monaco, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella attend the traditional Christmas tree ceremony as part of the Christmas holiday season, at the Monaco Palace in December 2022

After spending time in a private clinic in Switzerland, Princess Charlene was the picture of health when she attended Paris Fashion Week 

The couple’s time apart prompted concern about their marriage among royal watchers. 

In interviews, Albert explained he had stepped up to play a bigger role in his children’s lives as the family coped with Charlene’s ongoing health issues.

Princess Charlene returned to public duty last May. 

In January, sources said that the transformation is down to her increasing devotion to her Catholic faith, as well as the close proximity of her parents Lynette and Mike who have joined her brother in the principality from their native South Africa to support the Princess.    

‘My family and those I love are my rock,’ Charlene said in a rare interview over the New Year holiday.

Princess Charlene’s parents Michael and Lynette Wittstock, pictured at their daughter’s wedding in 2011, have moved to Monaco to keep an eye on their daughter. Her brother Gareth (right) made the same move 10 years ago, while her sibling Sean (back) is on the phone from South Africa every day to check on her 

Now Charlene (pictured with Prince Albert II of Monaco in November) is returning to the official duties that the Prince is reportedly paying her the equivalent of £10million a year to fulfil

Another Monaco-based source said: ‘Serious illness and other personal problems, including marital issues, have prompted Charlene to turn to God as much as she can.

‘She is inspired by Catholicism, and it has helped her through some very dark times.’ 

The Prince himself admits it has been a rough ride, saying over Christmas that there had been ‘tough years’ for Charlene.

But their marriage was once again in the spotlight in March, when the couple were forced to deny ‘the malicious rumours’ that they are separating after almost 12 years of marriage.

A spokesman said: ‘I would like to formally deny the malicious rumors peddled by the French magazine Royauté. Please disregard this article which is totally unfounded.’

The rumour gained momentum when the article was repeated by gossip sites, which sparked speculation on social media.

Princess Grace’s devastating death 

Prince Rainier of Monaco led a life of unimaginable luxury and was married to one of the world’s most beautiful women, American actress Grace Kelly.

Her death aged 52 on September 14, 1982 as she drove along a hairpin bend had a deep effect on her husband. His face was etched with grief as he followed her coffin and paid his final farewell. 

The couple met during Cannes Film Festival in 1955 and at the time, there were claims Rainier was in danger of losing control of his throne after World War II, so aides suggested he break tradition and marry an A-lister instead of a royal to help improve tourism in the principality.

Prince Rainier of Monaco and Princess Grace on their wedding day in April, 1956

After exchanging letters in a hushed romance, Rainier asked Grace to marry him days after Christmas that year. But the engagement wasn’t announced to the press until January 5, 1956, as Grace’s parents had to be firmly swayed to grant their permission. 

Grace’s father told the Prince of Monaco before giving his consent: ‘Royalty doesn’t mean anything to us. I hope you won’t run around the way some princes do, because if you do, you’ll lose a mighty fine girl.’ 

Alas, the princess was always enamored with her prince. 

She once said of her husband: ‘He’s enormously sweet and kind…he wants a close and loving family, just as I do. He’s very bright, has a wonderful sense of humour, makes me giggle, and is very, very handsome…he’s a good person. And I love him.’

How the Daily Mail reported Princess Grace’s death in 1982

Crowds lined the street as Princess Grace’s coffin was taken to the cathedral for her funeral

Prince Rainier wept and his face was etched with grief as he walked behind his wife’s coffin with their children

They got married in 1956 and crowds gasped at her beauty as she walked down the aisle. 

And Grace never regretted the decision that took her away from the American film world to a life of royalty in Monaco. 

She is quoted as saying: ‘Of course, life in Monaco is rather like living in a goldfish bowl. everyone can see every move you make. 

‘But that doesn’t worry me. I know what I’m about, although I don’t come from a small-town background like this. ‘If you are honest and if you are true, living In a goldfish bowl shouldn’t embarrass you. And it doesn’t me.’ 

Prince Rainier never remarried and immersed himself in his work. He died in 2005.

Princess Charlotte’s divorce

It’s not only the recent generation which has been unlucky in love; Princess Grace’s parents-in-law, Count Pierre de Polignac and Princess Charlotte had an unhappy 10-year marriage.

Princess Charlotte wed Pierre in 1920, and the couple had two children, including Prince Albert II’s father Rainier, born in 1923.

They welcomed their first child, Princess Antoinette Louise Alberte Suzanne in December 1920.

Pierre, who was selected by Charlotte’s father Prince Louis II, should have been a model husband, having been close in age to Charlotte and fond of the arts.

Yet it’s not only the recent generation which has been unlucky in love; Princess Grace’s parents-in-law, Count Pierre de Polignac and Princess Charlotte (pictured in 1925) had an unhappy 10-year marriage

The couple’s daughter and Prince Rainier’s sister – Antoinette (right) – pictured with her daughter Elizabeth Anne de Massy in 2001. Both have since died

However, it soon became clear that Pierre was homosexual. The couple quietly split in the mid-1920s, with Pierre wanting his sexuality to be kept a secret, before they later officially divorced in 1930.

Princess Charlotte reportedly engaged in several affairs during their relationship, even moving in with one of her lovers after separating from Pierre.

Princess Charlotte died in 1977, and Prince Pierre in 1964. 

Prince Louis II’s love child

Princess Charlotte’s father Louis II of Monaco’s love life was equally filled with drama after fathering her out of wedlock with his lover cabaret singer Marie Juliette Louvet.

He met Marie Juliette while stationed in Algeria, having enrolled in the prestigious Saint-Cyr military college and later served with the French Foreign Legion.

Although the couple never married, he had a child with her, Charlotte Louise Juliette, who was born on 30 September 1898 in Constantine, Algeria.

Serving with the French Army from 1895 to 1899, he returned to Monaco at the end of his service without Marie Juliette or Charlotte.

Princess Charlotte’s father Louis II of Monaco’s (pictured) love life was equally filled with drama after having a child out of wedlock with his lover cabaret singer Marie Juliette Louvet

But in 1911, amid fears over a constitutional crisis about succession, Prince Louis’s daughter Charlotte was recognised as his heir.

However, legally it was ruled unconstitutional, and it was only in 1919 when Prince Louis adopted his daughter after the laws were changed to allow it, that she became his official heir.

Then known as Princess Charlotte of Monaco and Duchess of Valentinois, she later renounced her claim to the throne in favour of her son Prince Rainier III, who became the monarch following the death of Prince Louis II on 9 May 1949.

In his later life, Prince Louis II spent most of his time in Paris at his family’s estate alongside his wife Ghislaine Dommanget, whom he married in Monaco in 1946. 

Prince Albert I whose bride fled 

It’s perhaps no surprise that Prince Louis II relationship didn’t last long, since he didn’t have the best model for a successful marriage when growing up.

His parents Prince Albert I of Monaco and Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton were married for only a year when she fled.

From a well-connected family, Lady Mary Victoria’s father was the 11th Duke of Hamilton and her mother was Princess Marie Amelie of Baden. 

Prince Albert I of Monaco and Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton (pictured), who was born on December 11, 1850, at Hamilton Palace in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, were married for only a year when she fled

Through her mother, Lady Mary Victoria was a third cousin of Emperor Napoleon III of France and first cousin of Queen Carola of Saxony, Queen Stephanie of Portugal, King Carol I of Romania, and Princess Marie, Countess of Flanders (mother to King Albert I of Belgium).

Prince Albert’s mother dreamed of forming a union with the British Royal family through her son’s nuptials, but when that wasn’t possible, she turned to Napoleon who suggested his cousin Lady Mary Victoria.

Neither Lady Mary Victoria or Prince Albert were enthusiastic about the match, but after first meeting at a ball in August 1869 held by Napoleon, the couple were married on 21 September 1869.

They honeymooned in Baden-Baden, with the terrible weather and war between France and Prussia looming, surely a sign for the terrible married future waiting for them.

Mary Victoria, then 19, soon discovered she was pregnant and returned to Monaco with her husband, but the lack of attention she received from him had her fleeing the nation with her mother.    

On 12 July 1870, she gave birth to a son who was christened Louis. 

Albert did not go to see his firstborn and instead signed up with the French Navy as war was declared.

For five years, Albert and Mary Victoria did not have any contact and she soon fell in love with a Hungarian Count named Tassilo Festetics de Tolna, who she would later marry and have four children with.

Mary Victoria refused to see her first husband and eventually asked the Vatican for an annulment of their marriage, which was granted on 28 July 1880.

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