Who Is Princess Caroline's Ex-Husband, Philippe Junot?

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In 1977, Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco phoned her sister, Lizanne LeVine, in a state of despair. The cause for the actress' panic? Her eldest daughter, Princess Caroline of Monaco, was engaged to Philippe Junot, a mysterious older man with a playboy reputation. And, Grace could simply not feel happy about the match. LeVine would later recall the way that her older sister tortured herself over Caroline's unadvisable decision — hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

Speaking to the biographer, J. Randy Taraborrelli for his book, "Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier," LeVine remembered Grace asking, "What do you do, Lizzie, when you know your child is headed for disaster and you can't stop it from happening?" The ever-caring younger sister apparently replied, "You let her get hurt, Gracie. There is no other way. Then you just have to be there to pick up the pieces."

In the end, this is exactly what transpired. Caroline and Junot made it down the aisle in an opulent but undeniably controversial royal wedding, only to divorce just two years later. But, before the pair parted ways, they were the center of a string of tabloid scandals that involved media stalking, public arguments, and even rumors of infidelity. After all, Junot's uniquely attention-grabbing jet-setter lifestyle was not a good fit for Caroline. And, the rumors that swirled around him were hardly beneficial for the Monegasque crown.

Philippe Junot was rumored to have come from an illustrious family

Born in Paris on April 19, 1940, Philippe Junot was not raised as a prince, but his family was hardly struggling either. His father, Michel Junot, was a career politician who would eventually become the deputy mayor of Paris, and his mother, Lydia Thykjær, came from a moneyed Danish background. Over the years, some have whispered that Junot was descended from Andoche Junot, the first Duke of Abrantes.

However, in reality, it is very difficult to determine whether or not this connection truly exists, and rumors of Junot's so-called "blue-bloodedness" were probably just rumors. Author and royal expert J. Randy Taraborrelli explained, "There were also stories — which Junot did not deny — that he was a descendant of Andoche Junot, the first Duke of Abrantes." And, for a time, this alleged connection was so well-known that it reportedly made an appearance in the French edition of "Who's Who." 

In the end, though, separate investigations into Junot's bloodline have put these claims into question. Per Taraborrelli's research, Princess Caroline's father, Prince Rainier, began studying the Junot family as soon as the Frenchman began dating his daughter. As the royal expert put it, "When Rainier checked that claim [of nobility] further, he found it to be untrue."

A sense of secrecy surrounded his professional endeavors

Regardless of whether Philippe Junot was really ever of noble blood, the truth was that nothing about him was particularly clear. If anything, his whole past was shrouded in mystery. Part of the reason for this lack of transparency might have been Junot's tendency to bend the truth. At one point in his youth, Junot was even said to have lied about his educational background. Indeed, as reported by J. Randy Taraborrelli in his book, the flirtatious Frenchman "said that he had graduated from the New York Institute of Finance, but it wasn't long before the press learned that the Institute was not issuing diplomas at the time he said he graduated."

For many years, these sorts of contradictions made it very difficult for people to get a good feel for who Junot really was. And, to make matters worse, Junot was known for being ultra-secretive about his professional endeavors. Apparently, the young man hated being asked what he did for a living. As revealed by Taraborrelli's research, "Being pressured to answer what he called 'that question' was inappropriately invasive of his privacy, he said. How he earned a living was nobody's business, he insisted." In the end, though, the overall sense of secrecy surrounding Junot probably made him all the more interesting to the tabloid press. It also seemed to fascinate a number of young women.

Junot had a playboy reputation

Although few could say what Philippe Junot did during the day, everyone seemed to know what he was up to at night. The mysterious businessman was known for hitting club after club on just about any night of the week — and the ladies seemed to love him for it. As royal expert Jeffrey Robinson noted in his book, "Grace of Monaco: The True Story," Junot's antics made him "well known in Parisian circles as a playboy."

But, some sources allege that Junot was not just a playboy — he was the playboy. One 1987 piece from the Chicago Tribune effectively portrayed Junot as one of the most archetypical playboys of all time, writing, "Philippe Junot is a playboy watcher's delight, the prototype. Thrice-weekly gym sessions keep his figure trim. His hair is thick and dark, his tan light but as constant as George Hamilton's. A 'hard day' at the office hardly ruffles the European-cut suits on Junot."

These characterizations aside, it has been said that Junot resented the "ladies' man" label — and even spoke out against it. In his book, "Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier," J. Randy Taraborrelli noted that Junot once told the press, "I was a man who wanted to have a good time like anyone else. The difference between me and other people was that I actually did it ... There was nothing wrong with the way I lived."

Philippe Junot and Princess Caroline met at a nightclub

Because Philippe Junot spent so much time at nightclubs, it is perhaps unsurprising that he met Princess Caroline out on the town. The 19-year-old princess and the 36-year-old playboy were said to have first crossed paths during the summer of 1976 at Regine's nightclub in Paris.

According to J. Randy Taraborrelli, Junot approached Caroline first, calling her "fatty." Apparently, this rather unusual greeting was not enough to warn the princess off of her suitor, and the two began to get to know each other. As Taraborelli noted, "She didn't seem to mind [the opener]" — on the contrary. Before long, Junot and Caroline were an item, and things didn't take too long to get serious.

In fact, things between Caroline and Junot got so serious that the princess began second-guessing her plans for the future. At the time that she started going out with Junot, Caroline was planning to study at the prestigious Princeton University. However, as she fell harder and harder for the handsome Frenchman, the princess became increasingly convinced that going to the U.S. would be a mistake. Ultimately, Caroline decided to study at the Sorbonne in Paris to be closer to Junot.

Junot and Caroline were the biggest royal scandal of their day

Almost inevitably, Princess Caroline and Philippe Junot's relationship attracted media attention. From the early days of the courtship, the princess and the playboy became one of the biggest tabloid sensations of their era. As noted in Jeffrey Robinson's "Grace of Monaco: The True Story," Caroline and Junot could barely go out for a night on the town without a summary of their antics making the papers. In fact, the pair were such a big deal that Robinson claimed, "At least for a short time, they rivaled Burton and Taylor, the Windsors, Grace and Rainier, and maybe even Romeo and Juliet in history's 'most-hyped-love-affair' category."

Over-hyped or not, Caroline and Junot's relationship was scandalous, and royal fans loved to learn about it. On one occasion, Caroline told her parents, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace, that she was going to Paris — when, in reality, she was getting ready to sneak off to St. Tropez with Junot. Far from getting away with this secret Mediterranean escapade, Caroline and Junot were stalked by the paparazzi. At one point on the trip, someone snapped a picture of the Frenchman kissing Caroline's nude breasts. Scandal ensued. 

In the face of this embarrassment, Caroline's dad tried to remain calm. In "Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier," J. Randy Taraborrelli quoted the monarch, who apparently said, "Worse has happened, and worse will in the future."

Caroline's parents disapproved of Junot

While Prince Rainier tried not to get too upset about Princess Caroline's photographs with Philippe Junot, you could hardly say that he approved of the relationship as a whole. He and his wife, Princess Grace Kelly, were generally understood to oppose the match due to Junot's party-going personality. Thus, when the Frenchman asked Caroline to marry him in 1977, Rainier and Grace were aghast. According to some sources, the couple went so far as to consider placing a princely ban on the wedding.

Speaking with J. Randy Taraborrelli for his book, "Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier," royal insider Antoinette Brucatto claimed that Grace was a huge proponent of the ban. According to Brucatto's interview, the idea was that Rainier would use his position as monarch to prevent Caroline from getting married in the principality of Monaco. Grace's hope was, apparently, that this measure would help Caroline understand that marrying Junot was a bad idea.

Ultimately, though, Rainier and Grace decided that this plan was too extreme to actually go through with — and, Caroline decided to marry Junot. Interestingly, though, the princess would later tell royal expert Jeffrey Robinson that she wasn't even interested in marriage at the time. As the specialist relayed in "Grace of Monaco: The True Story," Caroline said, "I was 20 or 21 and didn't really want to get married ... I really didn't know him very well."

Junot and Caroline wed in a multi-day ceremony

On June 28, 1978, Princess Caroline of Monaco married Philippe Junot in a civil ceremony. Just one day later, the pair wed again in a religious ceremony, per Monegasque princely tradition. And, although the event was a full-blown royal affair, it also boasted a bit of a Hollywood twist. From the aristocratic side of things, blue bloods like Queen Anne of Romania and Baroness Marie-Hélène de Rothschild were in attendance. Meanwhile, other guests included Ava Gardner and her ex-husband Frank Sinatra.

Of course, the wedding was an extremely lavish event beyond the impressive guest list. As reported by Tatler, in one of her best fashion moments, Princess Caroline wore the Princess Grace tiara — a jeweled piece that boasted 200 diamonds set in platinum. She also donned a custom-made wedding gown by French designer Marc Bohan, who was one of the biggest names at Christian Dior. Fascinatingly there was a little bit of extra fuss made over the dress design, as some of the sketches made it into the tabloids prior to the wedding. This all forced Bohan to redesign parts of the gown at the last minute.

Reflecting on the fuss of her nuptials, Caroline would later tell biographer Jeffrey Robinson that she struggled to handle all the attention. Per "Grace of Monaco: The True Story," Caroline called her wedding day "not one of my better days." Bad memories aside, however, Caroline admitted, "It's amazing. I married Philippe because I was in love with him."

The couple divorced after a tabloid war

The way that Princess Caroline remembers things, it didn't take long for her to realize that Philippe Junot was not the right man for her. As she told Jeffrey Robinson for his book, "Grace of Monaco: The True Story," she began to regret the wedding just days after it took place: "I guess I started to wake up and wonder what I'd done while we were still on our honeymoon." Apparently, Junot invited a photographer friend of his to their getaway, promising him the exclusive right to their honeymoon shots. This behind-the-scenes deal left a sour taste in Caroline's mouth. Soon after this incident, she and Junot began to argue — and it seems that they never really stopped.

One of the couple's biggest rows took place in 1980 at the Monte Carlo Grand Prix — much to the dismay of the public and Caroline's father. According to a letter obtained by J. Randy Taraborrelli for his book, "Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier," Prince Rainier apparently wrote a friend, "Poor Caroline's marriage is not going well. She's been hurt."

Part of this hurt could stem from the fact that the princess and the playboy were in the midst of a tabloid war. Taraborelli wrote, "Paparazzi not hired by Junot caught him in the [seemingly romantic] company of others ... Soon after, Caroline was doing the same thing." They divorced in 1980.

Junot continued his playboy lifestyle

After Philippe Junot and Princess Caroline were able to separate formally, the mysterious French playboy returned to his former ways. For years after the divorce, Junot could be spotted between glamorous nightclubs and chic resorts. As explained in J. Randy Taraborrelli's "Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier," Junot was known for being extremely "loyal" to his crew. The royal expert revealed, "He seemed to feel obligated to keep them entertained. Perhaps betraying a deep insecurity about himself, he was the one who organized social gatherings, he was the one who felt responsible for the enjoyment of all participants." Because of this intense dynamic, it is most likely that the newly-divorced Junot doubled down on showing his drinking buddies a good time.

Naturally, Junot's single status also allowed him to mingle with all sorts of people. And, throughout most of the 1980s, he continued to go out with many different women. Interestingly, however, following his marriage with Caroline, the playboy seemed to be most interested in blue-bloods from high-profile families. As reported by the Chicago Tribune in 1987, Junot was linked to several aristocratic names — generating scandal in upper-crust circles. Per the report, the Frenchman "has spent the last seven years escorting Princesses Sophie de Hapsburg (much to her parents' dismay) and Beatrice von Auersperg (ditto)." As a result, Junot spent the 80s leaving a trail of scandalous headlines in his wake.

Phillippe Junot got remarried and started a family

While Philippe Junot is perhaps most famous for his playboy past, he did eventually settle down. In 1987, it was announced that the French partygoer was engaged to the Danish model Nina Wendelboe-Larsen. At the time, he was 47 years old. Wendelboe-Larsen was just 24. Despite this age difference, Junot insisted that his second marriage would be much more serious than his first. According to a piece published in the Chicago Tribune that same year, Junot told the press that he and Wendelboe-Larsen were planning "a small family [wedding] in Denmark." The engagement ring was also said to be stunning. Junot announced, "I have given her a beautiful ring with two hearts, one of sapphires and the other of rubies surrounded by diamonds."

Unfortunately, though, there were several major problems with this match. While Junot was known to be a worldly man with almost five decades of jet-setting experience, his gorgeous companion was from a much more sheltered background. Before meeting the playboy, Wendelboe-Larsen did not even know who Junot was. This sense of naivité may have led to the ultimate failure of the relationship. Indeed, the couple separated in 1997 after a decade together. 

However, before they parted ways, Junot and Wendelboe-Larsen welcomed three children: Victoria, Alexis, and Isabelle. After the end of the relationship, Junot would go on to have one more daughter, Chloé, with jewelry designer Helén Wendel.

These days, he lets his daughter take the spotlight

As the years have gone by, Philippe Junot has also taken a massive step back from the spotlight. Indeed, it appears that Junot — who is now in his 80s — has lost interest in being the same headline grabber of his youth. Instead, the Frenchman has seemingly allowed his children to shine, and, from what we can tell, Junot's daughter, Isabelle Junot, is particularly ready to make her mark on society.

On April 2, 2022, the gorgeous young brunette walked down the aisle with one of Europe's most eligible young men, Álvaro Falcó, 4th Marquess of Cubas. The wedding was considered one of the biggest society events of the year, attracting guests like Prince Hubertus of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and billionaire heiress Marta Ortega Pérez.

Beyond all the pomp, though, the most important part of the wedding was the emotional element. As the father of the bride revealed in an interview with Hola!, Isabelle "has a lot of charm, of course, she is adorable and cute." When reminded that he cried during the ceremony, Junot responded, "Well, it seems to me that must happen to many parents, right? It's very exciting." At one point, however, the former playboy took a minute to remember his own nuptials to Princess Caroline, noting that they had made the cover of Hello! in 1978. Junot laughed as he thought about how long ago that was. "Mucho tiempo," he said.