LOn September 13, 1982, Grace of Monaco’s fate was shattered in the barrels and broken windows of her Rover, on the heights of Monaco. She is 52 years old, the Monegasque freezes, the adventure ends, the legend takes shape… With its procession of rumours, conspiracies and improbabilities. It is said that his daughter Stephanie drove the car, that the engine was sabotaged by the mafia or by the sect of the Sun Temple, which would have seduced the princess but would not have paid a large sum, contrary to its promises. .
What do we know about the accident forty years after the events? This morning, September 13, Grace decided to follow her daughter Stéphanie to Paris and leave the heights of the Roc Agel, this private estate built by Rainier hundreds of meters above the cliff. The “Hurricane” princess – who has yet to release her summer hit – must make her comeback and attend haute couture classes, although she is particularly keen to find her Parisian gang, especially her boyfriend at the time. , Paul Belmondo.The car is ready to go to Monaco, the driver is waiting, but Grace decides to drive, especially to avoid creasing her dresses, which take up the back seat. The driver protests, he knows his boss hates the bends on the Corniche, but nothing helps. Grace leaves the estate at 9:30 and begins the descent that includes dozens of switchbacks, some of them hairpins. Mother and daughter are chatting, they haven’t buckled their seat belts when tragedy strikes: around 10:05 the Rover speeds straight into a turn, hovers for a while in the void before plunging into the trees and brush and to finish its route around forty meters lower on the edge of a kitchen garden.
Stéphanie manages to get out through the front door on the left and shout: “Mother is dead! Mother is dead! “She has a broken vertebra, but is coming out of it despite the concussion and will have to wear a neck brace for a while. On the other hand, grace’s condition is dramatic: crushed lung, collapsed chest, bleeding in the stomach, broken right femur, wound on the forehead… The princess is unconscious, her eyes glassy, her head on the rear window, in a deep coma, already at death’s door .
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Repatriated to the hospital that bears her name, she was immediately operated on and then put on artificial respiration. His vital prognosis is activated, a scan revealed irreversible brain damage. The next morning the electroencephalogram is flat, Grace is considered clinically dead, Prince Rainier is devastated: he understands that his wife has been reduced to a vegetative state and makes the difficult decision to authorize the disconnection of the machines. The princess died at 10.35pm without ever regaining consciousness.
ALSO READCannes: when Grace Kelly is ambushed by Prince RainierIt is then that the rumors get carried away, as for Diana fifteen years later. How do you accept, for an audience nourished by stories and glamorous pages, to see a princess swept away in a simple traffic accident? The most persistent – and the most cruel – will be to blame her daughter Stéphanie, who is suspected of driving without a license in her mother’s place: didn’t she go through the left front door of the Rover? In reality, if she did, it was because it was the only way for her to get out of the vehicle, as the car was heavily flattened on the right side.
Minutes before the accident, several witnesses clearly saw a blonde woman driving the Rover, including the driver of a truck who followed the car and saw her negotiate several turns before heading straight for the abyss. What actually happened? The CT scan performed on Grace shows that she may have suffered a mild stroke, affecting her movement and reaction at the worst possible moment. Rainier will acknowledge that his wife often complained of migraines at the time and was being treated for hypertension.
The Shadow of the Sun Temple
Another clue: the princess would have been the victim of the revenge of the Order of the Sun Temple, a sect she had just joined… A far-fetched hypothesis which was the subject of a documentary broadcast in 1997 by British television Channel Four, which angered the palace . We learned that the princess had joined the sect through a relative of Prince Rainier and made a contribution of 60 million francs, while the guru demanded 100 million, which created great tension.
A case that Rainier himself denied to the historian Jean des Cars years later, citing a rumor linked to one of his friends who was interested in the Knights Templar and the hunt for the Grail. “Everything is deliberately distorted,” explained the Sovereign Prince. I wasn’t interested, neither was the princess. As an Irish Catholic, she was fiercely opposed to sects. He had arranged an old commandery near La Turbie. We have never attended any ceremony of any kind in his house…”
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Could the car have been tampered with and sabotaged before the course to harm the royal family? On the day of the accident itself, the Rover was carefully examined under the supervision of the public prosecutor in Nice, the director of public security in Monaco and Roger Bencze, the police officer in Menton in charge of the investigation. Nothing abnormal was reported, the policeman assured that no one had come to hinder his investigation and that “the car’s engine was not defective in any way”, according to comments reported by the historian Jean des Cars in his biography dedicated to Grace. A finding confirmed by Rover’s experts, who judged the vehicle to be in perfect condition after an extensive check of the brakes, steering and gearbox – the prince, a great car lover, has always maintained them with care.
So why were so many rumors and mysteries raised during the tragedy? For Jean des Cars, the simplest explanation is poor communication from the palace, which proved messy and clumsy. “There was only a territorial mess, when the accident took place on French territory, it was therefore necessary to warn several authorities, who had to agree,” explains the historian today. Added to this is a media mess, since the head of the principality’s press center, Nadia Lacoste, was on holiday in the Black Forest at the same time. When she got home, took the press releases in hand, the silences and approximations had done their undermining work…”
Read : Unforgettable Gace of Monaco, by Jean des Cars, Editions of Rock (2022)