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
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders