Olivia de Havilland once recalled introducing Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier


Olivia de Havilland made an introduction that would forever change Grace Kelly’s life.

On Monday, People magazine reported it was the late Hollywood actress and her former husband Pierre Galante who engineered the meeting between the fellow legend and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

“I’m tempted to think it was destiny,” the “Gone with the Wind” star previously told the outlet.

According to People, de Havilland was a newlywed to Paris-Match editor Galante in the spring of 1955. The couple arrived at the Gare de Lyon in Paris to catch Le Train Bleu, which connected France’s northern point of Calais and Paris with towns and villages along the French Mediterranean coast and the Italian border.

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Actress Olivia de Havilland

Actress Olivia de Havilland
(Photo by Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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The couple was heading to Cannes, where the eighth edition of the film festival was underway. While the pair headed to their compartment, Kelly hurried down the platform.

That’s when Galante had an idea.

“It was an idea that struck [Pierre] for the first time while dining on the train after he learned Grace Kelly was a fellow passenger,” de Havilland recalled.

“My husband had been born in Nice on the Cote d’Azur,” she continued. “He suggested the meeting between Grace and Rainier at dinner with Paris-March editor-in-chief Gaston Bonheur, en route to Cannes – an idea immediately and enthusiastically accepted by Gaston.”

De Havilland, who was urged on by her husband and Bonheur, went to catch Kelly, who was departing.

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Grace Kelly was an Oscar-winning actress before she became Princess of Monaco.

Grace Kelly was an Oscar-winning actress before she became Princess of Monaco.
(Getty)

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“Grace struck me on the first encounter as a rather reserved, self-possessed, well brought up young woman,” said de Havilland, recalling their first meeting “on the small platform between the dining car and the next carriage when I overtook her to ask if she would agree to a meeting with Prince Rainier.”

“She immediately agreed but made the highly professional proviso that such a meeting must first be approved of by the studio sponsoring her visit to Cannes: MGM,” de Havilland shared.

After Kelly agreed, Galante called the Alfred Hitchcock muse and revealed Rainier had invited her to his palace at 4 p.m. on a Friday. However, Kelly declined, explained she was required to attend a Cannes cocktail for her film at 5:30. When Galante called back saying Rainier had consented to move their meeting up to 3, she relented.

But that Friday morning was far from smooth sailing.

According to the outlet, Kelly washed her hair before discovering a labor strike had cut off all the festival city’s electricity. The actress was left with no hair dryer, makeup lights, or even an iron before her meeting with the royal.

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Grace Kelly, circa 1954.

Grace Kelly, circa 1954.
(Photo by API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

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With two cars waiting downstairs Kelly improvised. She pulled her hair back, arranged it with flowers, put on her own unwrinkled outfit, and rushed down several flights of stairs.

After a fender-bender involving photographers that resulted in a delay, Kelly finally arrived – except Rainier was nowhere to be seen. When he did show up, he invited Kelly to see his 225-room palace. In response, Kelly said she’d already had that tour.

Undeterred, he suggested they visit his private zoo. After privately speaking in a garden, Kelly described the prince as “charming.”

“Pierre praised afterward how flawlessly Grace endeavored to observe the protocol required for presentation to the prince,” said de Havilland. “I guess things had gone wonderfully well by Grace’s manner upon returning from her presentation to Rainier.”

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In this Jan. 5, 1956 file photo, actress Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco sit arm-in-arm as they meet the press in Philadelphia, Pa, USA.

In this Jan. 5, 1956 file photo, actress Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco sit arm-in-arm as they meet the press in Philadelphia, Pa, USA.
(AP)

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De Havilland, who also attended the same Cannes cocktail, said something was different about Kelly after her meeting with the prince.

“When she took her place at the head of the receiving line at the American reception, instead of offering her hand for a handshake, Grace extended her hand as if offering it to be kissed,” said de Havilland. “She was in a state of enchantment.”

After their first meeting, Kelly and Rainier began a private correspondence. They kept their romance a secret until Rainier sailed to America and proposed to the star seven months later during Christmas.

De Havilland said she “was not particularly surprised by the news, but I was particularly charmed by it.”

The actress wasn’t able to attend the “wedding of the century” in Monaco because she was expecting the birth of her daughter.

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Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco.
(AP)

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“I saw Grace Kelly only once in the long years after our meeting on the train and Cannes,” said de Havilland. “I was lunching with an American friend at a restaurant in Paris and saw Princess Grace at a table across the room with Princess Caroline, then about 10 years of age. When they finished and were leaving, Princess Grace very graciously came to my table to greet me. Of course, I rose and curtsied.”

Kelly passed away in 1982 at age 52 from injuries she sustained in a car crash.

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Olivia de Havilland, who played the doomed Southern belle Melanie in 'Gone With the Wind,' poses for a photograph Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2004, in Los Angeles.

Olivia de Havilland, who played the doomed Southern belle Melanie in ‘Gone With the Wind,’ poses for a photograph Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2004, in Los Angeles.
(AP)

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De Havilland died on Sunday at age 104 of natural causes in her Paris home.

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