Travelling to her wedding in style: Never-before-seen photos reveal how Grace Kelly relaxed with her family in luxury on cruise ship as she steamed towards her fairytale wedding to Prince Rainier III in Monaco.
Never-before-seen photos of Hollywood A-lister Grace Kelly on the way to her real-life fairytale wedding in Monaco have emerged for sale after more than 60 years.
The Rear Window star’s marriage to Prince Rainier III was dubbed ‘The Wedding of the Century’ by the press in 1956, and she and her family had to provide a dowry of $2million for the marriage to go forward.
Ahead of the wedding, Kelly, her family, bridesmaids and more than 80 pieces of luggage boarded the SS Constitution for the eight-day trip to the French Riviera and were seen off by thousands of fans.
It’s likely the group didn’t take a flight because jetliners had yet to be commercialized, so transatlantic flights were long and often turbulent. Having 80 suitcases was likely another factor in the decision.
Nine slides, capturing the Kelly on board the SS Constitution in 1956 on the journey to become Princess of Monaco, were taken by her godmother Pauline McCloskey and other relatives.
They are now being sold by McCloskey’s great-granddaughter alongside a collection of documents related to the wedding and handwritten thank you notes from the icon.
The collection has been put up for sale with US-based Heritage Auctions with an estimate of $1,960 (£1,500).
One of the pictures show the glamorous actress in a large hat and sunglasses having her photo taken by the world’s press, while others reveal a more relaxed side to the starlet, wearing a cardigan and headscarf as she pets her dog and smiling surrounded by family and friends.
There are another 20 slides depicting Kelly’s family and friends on the ship, as well as documents from the voyage such as passenger lists, dinner menus, cocktail invitations and newspaper clippings.
Philadelphia-born Kelly had already dazzled cinemagoers for five years with films such as ‘Dial M For Murder’ and ‘Rear Window’ when she headed for Monaco.
Some 400 reporters applied to get on the ocean liner en route for Monaco but most were turned away. However, fellow passengers did take pictures of the beauty and sell them to the papers.
More than 20,000 people lined the streets of Monaco to greet her when she arrived.
The wedding involved two ceremonies and was attended by 700 guests, including well-known A-listers Cary Grant, Ava Gardner and Aristotle Onassis.
The actual ceremony took just 16 minutes, People reported, but was followed by a full 25 minutes spent listening to the 140 new titles that now belonged to Kelly as Princess of Monaco.
And then the newlywed couple had to repeat the whole thing again for news crews.
The second ceremony took place at the Saint Nicholas Cathedral. As 30million people looked on, Kelly arrived in a fairytale dress comprised of 300 yards of antique Belgian lace and 150 yards of silk, taffeta and tulle.
The veil, itself made of 90 yards of tulle, had been crafted to ensure that Kelly’s face would not be obscured from cameras, and her shoes and Juliet cap were decorated with pearls.
It had taken 36 seamstresses three weeks to make the gorgeous clothing, and Kelly did each one of them proud, entering the cathedral looking every bit the princess she now was.
And while his new wife glided serenely under the watchful gaze of millions, Rainier was a little more nervous, and Kelly had to help him slip the ring onto her finger.
The wedding concluded with a traditional offering to St. Dévote, Monaco’s patron saint, and a feast of caviar, lobster, champagne and more for 600 people, before the prince and princess boarded the prince’s yacht, the Deo Juvante II, for a seven-week honeymoon.
Godmother Pauline McCloskey was a close family friend and clearly heavily involved in the nuptials.
Her great-grandaughter revealed Pauline gave Kelly a book called Bride’s Manual: A Manual of Catholic Devotions with Mass for Marriage Ceremony and the Nuptial Blessing, which the actress carried on her wedding day. It is now on display at the Phildelphia Museum of Art.
She stayed in touch with the Princess for some years but less so after Kelly had her second and third children. She stayed in touch with Kelly’s mother until her death in 1986.
The items up for auction include postcards, various invitations relating to the wedding festivities, a wedding invite and a wedding program.
Margaret Barrett, from Heritage Auctions, said: ‘These slides have never been seen before as they were taken by a member of Grace’s private entourage.
‘She was taking the voyage to get married and become a princess – her real life was replicating a fantasy fairytale.
‘Although she’s not that close to the camera and facing away in some of the shots, you can still see how stunningly beautiful she was – she just epitomized true glamour.
‘Even though she was already a major A-list movie star at the time with worldwide fame, she probably had no idea how dramatically her life was going to change once she became a titled princess.
‘These slides show her right before that colossal change in her life took place.
‘This is an important collection if you’re a Grace Kelly fan since there is a ton of ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘not known’ information about the festivities in the weeks and days leading up to the wedding.
‘The handwritten notes show that Kelly was a proper young woman who knew how to write a proper thank you letter – an art form that is surely fading in the 21st century.
‘They reveal her kindness, sense of humour and desire to ‘stay connected’ in the years after her wedding.
‘She includes a personal titbit in virtually all the notes about what she was doing or where she was going, which are fun to read all these years later.
‘Kelly was a great actress and almost all of her films still withstand the test of time today, so she is still a very popular person with collectors 35 years after her death.
‘From biographies we know it isn’t 100 per cent true, but the surface of Kelly’s life represents ultimate fantasy and glamor. It’s impossible to predict what it might go for.’
Kelly embarked on an acting career aged 20 in 1950 and had leading roles in multiple films before retiring from acting at the age of 26 to take up her new role as princess.
She died aged 52 in 1982 after suffering a stroke while driving which caused her to crash her vehicle.
The collection will be sold on Saturday.
Originally published at Daily Mail