Tragic Details About Monaco's Princess Caroline

Meghan Markle isn't the first American actor to marry into a royal family, since long before her, Hollywood icon, Grace Kelly, married Monaco's Prince Rainier III way back in 1956. With that said, it makes sense that the world was once fascinated with Monaco's royal family, even if it seems like it's usually the British monarchy making most headlines these days. Prince Rainier and Princess Grace have since died, but their children, Princess Caroline, Prince Albert II, and Princess Stephanie have continued the family legacy.

Unfortunately, the Grimaldi family has faced more than their fair share of tragedies over the years, so much so that many believe that a witch had cursed their bloodline. One of those devastating events was the unexpected death of Princess Grace in 1982. Her eldest child, Caroline, had to then take on her role as the country's First Lady. Her father praised her for showing strength in a difficult time, saying, (via Hello!), "Princess Caroline stepped into her mother's shoes. She has the same spirit as her mother."

These days, Caroline keeps a low profile but that doesn't mean she's still not an important figure in Monaco. Her brother, Prince Albert, even told People, "What's she's done over the years, helping Monaco in various ways, on the cultural and charitable sides — she's always there." But let's not forget Caroline has had to overcome a lot of hardships in her own life too. So let's break down tragic details about Monaco's Princess Caroline.

She didn't have the happiest childhood

Princess Caroline might have grown up in a palace but that doesn't mean she had the happiest childhood. In fact, she's said that she grew up with a lot of pressure presumably because she was in the public eye. She once admitted, "I was raised with a sense of duty, obedience and... guilt," even adding, "What I had to do always came before what I wanted to do" (via Hello!).

Caroline's mother, Princess Grace, inferred that she held her and her sister to high standards too. "Besides being good students, they are good athletes: excellent skiers and swimmers," she told People magazine. She went on to add that they were also aware of their positions as royals, implying that they had to carry themselves a certain way. That pressure didn't let up when Caroline attended university either, because she suggested that she felt she had to prove that she deserved to be there.

What had to make things more difficult for Caroline was that her own parents apparently didn't have a big role in her adolescence. In the book, "Albert II of Monaco, The Man and The Prince" (via People) Caroline revealed, "When we were little, we were probably closer to our nanny than to our parents." She added that she and her brother, Prince Albert II, would get so upset when their nanny went on vacation, that they'd cry until their mother called her back early from it.

Princess Caroline's first marriage was a disaster

It's safe to say that every princess wants to find her happily ever after, but Princess Caroline's first marriage was basically a disaster. In 1978, at only 21-years-old, she married a French banker 17 years her senior named Philippe Junot. Her parents, particularly, her mother Princess Grace, didn't like Junot from the beginning, and seemingly felt the marriage was just a way for Caroline to rebel. They turned out to be right with their assumption that it wouldn't last either, because it was over just two years later.

Caroline was probably more embarrassed than heartbroken, because Junot was known to be quite the casanova, and was rumored to have cheated on her throughout their relationship. Even when the couple had just separated, Junot was seen traveling with another young woman, whom he once supposedly said was his "secretary." He then claimed, per The Washington Post, "Our marriage is no more than a formality. There is nothing holding us together."

Junot didn't stop putting Caroline on blast there. He later told Ladies Home Journal that she'd gotten jealous when he was seen dancing with an ex and retaliated by flirting with other men. He then suggested that it was okay for a man to be unfaithful to his wife, as long as he doesn't make his affair obvious. Yet, Junot blamed the media for their split, saying, (via UPI), "The press is responsible for creating an atmosphere of infidelity between Caroline and me."

Her mother, Princess Grace, died unexpectedly after a car crash

Perhaps one of the first major tragedies that Princess Caroline dealt with was her mother's unexpected death when she was just 25-years-old. Princess Grace had died at age 52 after she suffered a stroke while driving her other daughter, Princess Stephanie. Their car had gone off the side of a steep mountain and plummeted 100 feet down a ravine. Stephanie survived the wreck, but Grace died the next day.

Caroline was said to be the only family member Stephanie initially confided in about the crash, and reiterated what Stephanie told her in the book ”Rainier and Grace: An Intimate Portrait.” ”Stephanie told me, 'Mommy kept saying, I can't stop. The brakes don't work' ... She said that Mommy was in a complete panic," she recalled, (via The Chicago Tribune). Prince Albert II later revealed that the family was shocked by the crash, while Stephanie shared that they really leaned on one another in the aftermath.

It was Caroline though, who seemed to take on the most responsibility, by stepping into her mother's shoes to help her devastated father, Prince Rainier III, lead their country. "The way she is handling the jobs I have given her is a source of great satisfaction to me," he said, (via Hello!). Caroline made sure her mother's charities were attended to as well, especially those she was passionate about. For example, she reportedly re-established Monaco's National Ballet Company as a way to honor Princess Grace.

Her second husband was killed in a speedboat crash

It seemed that things were turning around for Princess Caroline when she married Stefano Casiraghi in 1983. The palace spokesperson even released a statement saying, (via Hello!), "Happiness has finally returned to a family which recently has had its share of personal tragedies." Sadly, that happiness didn't last long. In 1990, Casiraghi was killed in a speedboat crash when he was just 30-years-old after his catamaran flipped over during a race in the French Riviera.

Caroline had been in Paris when her husband died and rushed home after being informed of it. She later made what had to be the difficult decision to leave her native Monaco for a village in France, so she and their young children, Andrea, Charlotte, and Pierre, could rebuild their lives in private. Her brother, Prince Albert II, seemingly commended her for that, telling People in 2017, "She really raised her kids well. Without a father for many years, that's important."

The princess didn't publicly discuss Casiraghi's death, but he was widely regarded as her true love. Their daughter, Charlotte, however, later shared that her father's untimely death had left her with a feeling of loneliness throughout her life, which had to be hard for Caroline to hear. Per Daily Mail, Charlotte told L'Observateur de Monaco, "My personal experience has been of sad events, such as my father's early death, but these are things that happen to everyone, no matter where he comes from."

Princess Caroline was tormented by the press

Princess Caroline has always had a bad relationship with the press and it appears to be rightfully so. She'd been hounded by reporters as a teen, making headlines for any rebellion. A 1975 People magazine article seemingly blamed her for that negative attention, by citing how she flunked her university exams, smoked in public, and once wore a gown with a high slit. Then, there were rumors that she was photographed nude on a beach, which were supposedly fabricated for blackmail.

That same article even rudely noted, "The beginnings of her father's double chin rather than the classic unmatchable beauty of a woman 27 years her senior, who also happens to be her mother, and Caroline's difficulties become understandable." Princess Grace was aware that her daughter hated the media attention at least, saying, "She can't live the life of a normal student." The former Hollywood movie star had been used to the public's fascination, but Caroline was much different. She once clarified, per The Sun Sentinel, "I don't want to compete in mother's field."

Years later, Caroline worked hard to live her adult life privately. In 2004, she sued a German tabloid for publishing photos of her children, and won, what turned out to be, a "landmark" case. She filed another lawsuit against the German media in 2012 after photos of her and her husband, Prince Ernst August of Hannover, on vacation were printed. Unfortunately the court didn't side with her that time.

Her third marriage to Prince Ernst August of Hanover was also messy

Princess Caroline has been rather unlucky when it comes to love, considering that her third marriage was another embarrassing mess. The royal married Prince Ernst August of Hanover in 1999 amid scandalous rumors that she was already pregnant with his child. What was even more juicy for the press though, was that Caroline had been friends with his first wife, Chantal Hochuli, who reportedly learned of their relationship from a tabloid!

Like her first husband, Philippe Junot, Ernst was widely rumored to be unfaithful to Caroline. In 2009, for example, he was spotted canoodling with a French socialite, which led Caroline to move out of their home. Yet, the most obvious incident of his infidelity had to be in 2010 when Ernst was photographed at Christmastime, kissing another woman on a beach in Thailand. A French tabloid published the photos, and per People, wrote, "The Prince and his friend only had eyes for each other."

Caroline was in Switzerland at the time, skiing with their children, and had no doubt been humiliated to have another cheating husband. The tabloid even printed "Monaco's First Lady Is Being Publicly Duped." The couple finally separated though, and Caroline took their daughter back to Monaco with her. While they've never officially divorced, Ernst went on to date a slew of quite younger women since then. That, again, has had to be difficult for Caroline, especially since they share a child.

Her husband fell into a coma right before her father died

Prince Ernst August of Hanover obviously wasn't an ideal husband, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he wasn't there for his wife, Princess Caroline, while she mourned the death of her beloved father, Prince Rainier III. The palace announced the royal's death in 2005 with a statement that read, per ABC News, "His Most Serene Highness Prince Rainier III died ... following broncho-pulmonary, cardiac and kidney disorders."

Caroline was presumably devastated to lose her father, as she appeared to have grown close to him after her mother's death. Yet what had to make things more difficult for her was that her husband, Ernst, fell into a coma the day before Rainier died. He had been hospitalized for acute pancreatitis and once awakened from his coma, was placed in intensive care. That means on top of her grief, Caroline was probably worried about her husband's health.

While that wasn't necessarily Ernst's fault, his disease and hospitalization was connected to his heavy drinking. He was eventually able to return home but the palace revealed he'd need constant medical attention. The Prince admitted to Hello! (via Royal Musings) that the whole ordeal changed him for the better, since it served as a wake-up call. "My lifestyle was more than heavy ... But from now on, that's going to change," he said, adding, "Only now I have realized the real danger. I could have died." Unfortunately, however, that change of heart didn't last long.

Her husband's violent behavior made headlines

It appears that Princess Caroline wasn't only mortified by her husband, Prince Ernst August of Hanover's, alleged cheating, since his violent and inappropriate behavior frequently made headlines too. A few of those incidents happened in front of Caroline, like in 1999, when he reportedly assaulted a journalist with an umbrella outside their home. Then there was the time he was accused of assaulting a nightclub owner in Kenya in 2004. 

Ernst's drinking seemingly caused a lot of problems for Caroline — and her position in Monaco. For example, in 2000, he was photographed publicly urinating at the Expo 2000 event on the Turkish Pavilion. That resulted in a diplomatic situation since Turkey thought it was an insult. The prince's behavior seemed to get worse after they separated too. In 2018, for instance, Ernst was hospitalized after his son, Prince Christian's wedding, for food poisoning. However, there were rumors that he had really gotten sick from over drinking.

Then in 2020, Ernst was arrested in Austria for drunkenly attacking police officers, who responded to his home after he reported an employee was threatening him. He later told an Austrian newspaper, (via Tatler), "A policeman hit me. I think they were drunk, at least they gave the impression. They chained me to an ambulance." Ernst was taken to the psychiatry unit that night, and later received a 10 month suspended jail sentence. Months later though, he was arrested again, for threatening his employees.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Caroline felt her role in the family was taken from her

At this point, it's clear that Princess Caroline is a very important member in Monaco's royal family, and has been since her mother's death in 1982. However, it's her younger brother, Prince Albert II, who became the country's Sovereign Prince when their father, Prince Rainier III's health was failing in 2005. Albert wasn't married at the time though, and had illegitimate children. That led Rainier to change Monaco's constitution to make it possible for Albert's siblings to inherit the crown if Albert didn't have heirs of his own. Because of that, Caroline remained the country's matriarch for years and became Heiress Presumptive to the throne.

That all changed in 2011 when Albert married former Olympian, Charlene Wittstock. Princess Charlene then not only assumed Caroline's role as Monaco's First Lady, but then had twins, which knocked Caroline out of her position in line for the throne. That apparently negatively affected her, since she was upset that her role was reduced within the royal family.

There are also reports that dynamic caused tension between Caroline and Charlene, because Charlene felt dismissed, as well. Albert seemed to have contributed to that, because he told People that he often goes to his sister for advice. He explained, "I confide in my wife as well. But Caroline's my sister, and I've known her a little bit longer so usually I'll try and bounce things around her when I'm not sure about a situation."

She had to step in again when Princess Charlene got sick

Princess Caroline's relationship with Princess Charlene may have been strained, but she was seemingly upset when her sister-in-law got very ill. In November 2021, sources told Page Six that Charlene came close to death while visiting her native South Africa. It was later discovered that she suffered complications from a sinus surgery, and had to have multiple corrective procedures. Then when Charlene returned to Monaco over six months later, she went to a rehab for exhaustion. She later told Monaco Matin, "My state of health is still fragile ... The road has been long, difficult and so painful."

During that time, Caroline reportedly stepped in to assume Charlene's role as Monaco's First Lady, alongside her brother, Prince Albert II. That was similar to what she had to do for her father, when her mother, Princess Grace, died. During an event in 2022, royal commentator, Brittani Barger, explained to Express, "She's been at his side for many events. She's been right there with Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques. Playing the doting aunt, holding their hands and kind of being like a temporary 'first lady of Monaco.'"

Caroline is no stranger to stepping up and holding it together for her family during a crisis, having done it before. In any case, it's clear she has had to overcome many tragedies in her life. Yet, Caroline seems to always come out the other side stronger, like a true leader would.