What was it like to be best friends with a Princess
who became an iconic legend as movie star Grace Kelly
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.
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.
About the Authors
Joan Dale married American diplomat, Martin Dale, whom she met while they were both Fulbright Scholars at the University of Strasbourg in France. Martin had graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University and Joan had graduated with Honors from Mills College.
With a Masters degree in Economics from Tufts’ Fletcher School, Martin quickly rose through the diplomatic ranks to become the youngest Consul in the United States Foreign Service. When Prince Rainier III of Monaco asked Martin to be his Privy Counselor and Economic Advisor in order to grow and develop the tiny Principality, Joan and Princess Grace became lifelong friends. Over twenty-five years, Joan spent many wonderful days with Grace, in Monaco and around the world.
From galas to picnics, from month-long holidays together to the last family vacation, Joan and Princess Grace were there for each other through life’s joys and sorrows, including three shared pregnancies and devastating miscarriages.
Joan and Grace were two young American women in Europe who bonded like sisters. In fact, Joan was often mistaken for one of Grace’s siblings, and even for Grace herself, which continued up until the seventeen-day cruise that Joan took with Grace and the Princely Family just weeks before Princess Grace’s tragic death.
Joan remained friends with Princess Grace and with Prince Rainier until their deaths. Before Joan passed away in 2005, she worked together with her daughter, Pamela Grace, to write and record the memoirs of her extraordinary experiences.
Pamela-Grace Dale was named after her godmother, Princess Grace. Throughout the book, she is referred to as Pam or Pamela, however, she has chosen to go by the name Grace for most of her adult life. Although Grace was only 15 when Princess Grace passed away, she has vivid memories of spending wonderful times with her in New York and in Monaco, especially celebrating her 13th birthday with her godmother for several days at Rocagel.
Grace has been happily married since 1990 and lives in Canada with her husband, where she is a relationship coach for clients all over the world. Her intuitive approach enables her to get to the heart of the matter to resolve issues and conflicts in relationships of all kinds, and at all stages (from facilitating harmonious beginnings, to avoiding acrimonious endings). Grace has been on extended sabbatical from her practice while completing her upcoming book:
"This is absolutely a huge tribute to Princess Grace. And nothing happens for no reason, so i believe Joan had foreseen all this to happen and therefore wrote and carefully kept her memoirs in case it would be needed someday.
A true friend she was for Princess Grace, no doubt. And thank you so much again, Grace Dale, for estimating and approaching this situation the right way by your choice (which was a far from easy choice to make for you & your family) to use your mother's memoirs for such good cause resulting in your lovely, truthful book and page which is a HUGE contribution in keeping Grace & Rainier's beautiful and valuable legacy alive. - R.B.