Princess Antoinette: Member of Monaco's royal family decried for her attempt to meddle with the succession

The Mediterranean principality of Monaco owes much of its international profile to the Grand Prix, first held there in 1929, and its subsequent Formula One incarnation, and to Prince Rainier III's fairytale marriage to the Grace Kelly in 1956. Described as "The Wedding of the Century", the event enshrined Monaco's standing as the playground of the rich, while the private lives of the couple's three children, Albert II, the current ruler and Sovereign Prince of Monaco, Caroline, Princess of Hanover, and Princess Stéphanie of Monaco became staples of gossip and celebrity magazines throughout Europe.

Rainier's older sister, Princess Antoinette of Monaco, was a devoted aunt to Albert, Caroline and Stéphanie, but before they came along she had been a meddlesome presence in the Palace, while her private life also set tongues wagging. In 1943, after the Nazis replaced Mussolini's fascists as the occupying force, she took up with a German officer and intended marrying him until her grandfather Louis II intervened and decreed "this young girl will not marry anyone as long as the war continues."

After the war she began a relationship with Alexandre-Athenase Noghès, the Monégasque tennis champion whose father Anthony had been the founder of the Automobile Club de Monaco and the Grand Prix. She bore him three children out of wedlock, Elisabeth-Anne in 1947, Christian in 1949 and Christine in 1951, the year they eventually married, though they divorced in 1954.

Before Rainier met Kelly at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955 he had had a well-documented 10-year liaison with the French actress Giselle Pascal. The couple shared a villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, and considered marriage but, when Rainier ascended to the throne in 1949 on the death of Louis II, Antoinette began plotting a possible alternative to the succession.

Hoping to change the constitution that installed the eldest male heir as head of state, and become Princess Regent and have Christian replace or succeed her then childless brother, she began spreading rumours that Pascal was infertile. A doctor was said to have examined her and confirmed this, though she went on to marry the actor Raymond Pellegrin and bear him a daughter. But the whispers contributed to the end of Rainier's relationship with Pascal, and, for a while, made Antoinette persona non grata in the principality. She moved to neighbouring Èze, where she lived the rest of her life in a villa overlooking the Mediterranean called Le Bout Du Monde, surrounded by cats and dogs.

She was born in Paris in 1920, the daughter of Prince Pierre of Monaco (formerly Comte de Polignac) and Princess Charlotte, Hereditary Prin-cess of Monaco through Prince Louis II, who belatedly adopted Charlotte, the 20-year-old daughter he fathered with the cabaret singer Juliette Louvet in French Algeria, thus reinforcing the family's claim to the Monaco throne. Antoinette's parents divorced in 1933 and she and her brother spent most of their time with their grandfather in Monaco and Paris.

She was encouraged to interfere in the succession by Jean-Charles Rey, a lawyer and the then president of the Conseil National, who became her lover in the early 1950s and was her husband from 1961-74. Even if she still occasionally rowed with Rainier after his wedding to Kelly, he seemed to have forgiven her scheming. She got on well with Kelly and grew closer to her brother after his wife's death in a car crash in 1982. The following year, her third marriage, to the British ballet dancer John Gilpin, whom she had first met in Monte Carlo in the 1940s, also ended tragically when he died of a heart attack in London six weeks after the wedding.

Antoinette shared her brother's love of animals and established a sanctuary in Èze. She was president of Monaco's Society for the Protection of Animals. The rules of the succession were amended in 2002, three years before Rainier's death, and effectively sidelined Antoinette and her family's claim to the throne. Prince Albert is due to marry the former South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock in July. The current second in line is Caroline, Princess of Hanover.





Antoinette Alberte Suzanne Grimaldi, Princess Antoinette of Monaco, Countess of Polignac, Baroness of Massy: born Paris 28 December 1920; married 1951 Alexandre-Athenase Noghès (marriage dissolved 1954; one son, one daughter and one daughter deceased); 1961 Jean-Charles Rey (marriage dissolved 1974), 1983 John Gilpin (died 1983); died Monaco 17 March 2011.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Web Hosting Support Agent

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading web hosting pr...

Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled Maintenance Engineer - Electrical Bias

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Grantham, Lincolnshire...

Recruitment Genius: Data Centre & Systems Support Engineers

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This accelerated growth ISP company is current...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003