The Stunning Transformation Of Monaco's Princess Caroline

Born to Hollywood — and actual — royalty, Her Royal Highness Caroline Louise Marguerite — daughter of stage and screen legend Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco — seemingly has it all. An heiress to the throne of Monaco since 2005, the style icon is known for her multiple philanthropic endeavors and epic fashion sense.

Though she was born into a life of wealth and privilege, Caroline is an educated woman who speaks five different languages. She's also had her fair share of tragedy — more than once: Her iconic mother died in a car crash when Caroline was only 25, and, many years later, her husband and father of her three oldest children died in a tragic boating accident (per the Prince's Palace of Monaco).

Through it all, she has remained poised and elegant, embodying the royal values of hard work, family, and helping others. Rarely giving interviews, she tells her story through her gifts to the world: her work, her style, and her family. This is the story of Princess Caroline's stunning transformation from child royal to philanthropic leader to doting mother and grandmother.

Princess Caroline was raised with a sense of duty

On January 23, 1957, Princess Caroline was born to Princess Grace (better known as American actress Grace Kelly) and Prince Rainier III in the Prince's Palace of Monaco to much excitement. Later that year, baby Caroline was officially introduced to the public, when her parents showed her off for the first time on the palace balcony. She was raised alongside her younger brother, Prince Albert, and younger sister, Princess Stephanie, according to Town & Country

When it comes to princesses, Caroline is the real deal. By birth, she belongs to the House of Grimaldi. And, as a descendent of the Dukes of Polignac, she is also, by birth, a member of the historical French nobility, according to her profile on the official Monaco website. As such, a strong work ethic was instilled in the young princess from the time she was little. "I was raised with a sense of duty, obedience, and guilt. What I had to do always came before what I wanted to do," she once said (via Hello!). 

Her mother once spoke to People magazine of Caroline and her younger sister, Stephanie, describing their talents both inside and outside the classroom, before adding, "But, above all, my children are good sports, conscious of their position and considerate of others. They are sympathetic to the problems and concerns in the world today" (via Hello Monaco).

Princess Caroline was closer to her nanny than her parents as a child

Although Princess Caroline traveled and attended social engagements with her family, she was reportedly closer to her nanny than her parents while growing up. In a biography of her brother, Prince Albert, "Albert II of Monaco, The Man and The Prince," by Isabelle Rivère and Peter Mikelbank, Caroline opened up about her childhood, revealing more about the relationship she and her brother shared with their former nanny, Maureen Wood. "For my brother and I, Maureen was the key figure in our life," she said. "When we were little, we were probably closer to our nanny than to our parents." 

In fact, the young siblings were so close to their nanny that they would cry when Maureen would leave every summer for vacation. "When she was leaving [the palace], Albert and I would yell 'Don't go, don't go!'" the princess described. "We were sad for days. Most often than not, our mother would end up calling her to ask her to come home earlier than planned."

During her childhood, Princess Caroline spent time in the U.S.

While she was raised in the small European country of Monaco, Princess Caroline spent a lot of time in the U.S. as a child. In fact, the city of Philadelphia was like a second home to her, as she spent time there visiting her maternal grandparents, aunt, and uncle, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

An April 1973 article from the city newspaper even detailed one of Caroline's many visits to the states alongside her family. Aged 16 at the time, Caroline was described as taking a break from her studies at a boarding school in London to attend a gala cocktail party at a country club where her mother was the guest of honor. Her sense of royal duty was on full display when she and her cousin stood outside of a Lord & Taylor department store seeking Easter Seals donations. "It was fun. I enjoyed it very much," Caroline described.

According to the newspaper, teenage Caroline and her family enjoyed sightseeing in the City of Brotherly Love before heading to California where they were guests at Frank Sinatra's house in Palm Springs. Though Prince Albert was said to have been back at school in Monaco at the time, the newspaper reported that he later joined the rest of the family out west.

Princess Caroline is educated and multitalented

As a young royal instilled with a strong work ethic, Princess Caroline was expected to earn an education while developing her talents. In 1974, she graduated with honors, receiving her French Baccalauréat (aka a high school diploma), as noted by Monaco's official website.

In 1982, her mother, spoke about Caroline and her sister to People. Kelly described them both as smart, funny, and multitalented, saying, "Besides being good students, they are good athletes: excellent skiers and swimmers. Both can cook and sew and play the piano and ride a horse."

After graduating from high school, the multitalented Caroline went on to study at St. Mary's School Ascot in the U.K., then later receivied a degree in philosophy, with minors in psychology and biology, from the Sorbonne in Paris (via the Prince's Palace of Monaco). We're sure she received an excellent education, as she is fluent in five different languages: English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian. 

The royal divorced Philipe Junot not long after their lavish wedding

At age 21, Princess Caroline got married — in quite the lavish wedding. But would you expect anything less of a princess? On June 28, 1978, she wed banker Philipe Junot — who exhibited a playboy reputation — in front of 600 family members and friends, including Hollywood legends Frank Sinatra and Gregory Peck, Hello! reported.

Sadly, however, the fairy tale romance wasn't meant to last. After only two years, the young couple split up. Reflecting on their failed union, Caroline referred to herself as "young and in love" and hinted at family pressures to get married. "Everything happened too quickly," she said. "Since I had been little, everybody wanted me to get married," the magazine noted. 

Additionally, sources told the magazine that Caroline's mother did not approve of the marriage and had even predicted it wouldn't last (per Biography TV). According to Hello Monaco, the marriage was eventually annulled by the Catholic Church.

Her mother, Grace Kelly, died in a car crash when Caroline was 25

While Princess Caroline's divorce was her first setback, she experienced a far greater one after learning that her mother, Hollywood screen legend Grace Kelly, died in a tragic car crash. While the media had swirled with differing accounts of the accident, Caroline set the record straight in a 1989 interview with Jeffrey Robinson for his book, "Rainier and Grace: An Intimate Portrait," according to the Chicago Tribune. According to her, on September 13, 1982, her mother and younger sister, Princess Stephanie, had been on their way to take a train to Paris, where Stephanie was to start school. Grace had offered to drive the car instead of her chauffeur. At some point, the actress missed a turn, sending the car through a retaining wall and over a steep cliff.

While Stephanie survived the accident, Grace did not. Hospitalized from her injuries, Stephanie missed her mother's funeral — which was watched by millions on TV at the time — and didn't learn of her mother's death for two days.

Additionally, Caroline stated that only she had learned from Stephanie the entire heartbreaking story. "She said that Mommy was in a complete panic," Caroline described, explaining how her younger sister said she had pulled on the hand brake but to no avail. Caroline also revealed that her mother apparently had not been feeling her best at the time, describing her as "incredibly tired" and not "in great form."

Princess Caroline had big shoes to fill after her mother's passing

After her mother's tragic death, Princess Caroline's whole life seemingly changed in an instant. Though she had been well-prepared for a life of service, no one could have known that she'd be forced to step up years before she was ever meant to, taking on her mother's role as First Lady of Monaco far too early.

Her father, Prince Rainier III, was delighted with the way his daughter handled the transition. A year after Grace Kelly's death (via Hello!), he reportedly said that "a miracle happened. Princess Caroline stepped into her mother's shoes. She has the same spirit as her mother. The way she is handling the jobs I have given her is a source of great satisfaction to me."

These various "jobs" included leadership roles with charitable organizations, including the Red Cross, the Garden Club of Monaco, the Springtime Arts of Monte-Carlo (per Hello Monaco), and the Princess Grace Foundation, which the prince established to honor his late wife. The foundation reflects the iconic actress' love of her home country and commitment to the arts by giving away scholarships and grants to deserving young performing artists.

Princess Caroline tragically became a widow in 1990

Not long after her mother's death, Princess Caroline remarried and had three children. However, in 1990, she faced tragedy again when her husband of seven years, Stefano Casiraghi, died in a boating accident while racing in a world championship game, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time. Casiraghi's boat hit a wave and flipped over. Witnesses said Casiraghi was strapped to his seat at the time of the impact and was unable to break free. However, the driver of the boat, Patrice Innocenti, survived his injuries. The outlet reported that weather conditions that day were normal.

In an interview with The Royal Observer, Innocenti said he was shocked the accident occurred. "I don't know what caused the boat to turn over," he said. "We've been racing this boat for four years in all kinds of seas — and it had never happened before."

According to the outlet, rumors of foul play surrounded the mysterious incident, as Casiraghi had received death threats not long before his passing. This led the princess' father, Prince Rainier, to request a police investigation. To this day, however, the rumors are still just that — with no supporting evidence to prove otherwise.

Princess Caroline moved her family to France before marrying her third husband

After becoming widowed in 1990, Princess Caroline moved with her three children — Andrea Casiraghi, Pierre Casiraghi, and Charlotte Casiraghi — to the village of Saint Remy-de-Provence in France. There, they could live a quiet, normal life away from the paparazzi, as she had intended, according to Hello Monaco.

Caroline managed to lead the low-key life she wanted, that is, until she began dating an old friend, her soon-to-be third husband, Prince Ernst-August of Hanover, a great-grandson of Britain's King George III. The relationship allegedly led to controversy, as Ernst-August was reportedly married and a dad of two. In 1997, he divorced his wife, and on January 11, 1999 — days before marrying Caroline — Queen Elizabeth II, his distant cousin, bestowed her official royal blessing upon the couple. This marked the marriage official in Britain, as stated by the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. Caroline and Ernst-August were married on her 42nd birthday, after which she became known as Princess of Hanover, according to Express.

In July 1999, the princess gave birth to her fourth child and the couple's first together, a girl named Alexandra Charlotte Ulrike Maryam Virginia of Hanover (per the official website of Monaco).

Princess Caroline is known for her sense of style

As both European and Hollywood royalty, it was almost expected that Princess Caroline would become a style icon. Her looks over the years display her elegance and glamour while keeping things fresh — clearly following in her late mother's fashion footsteps. The royal is a regular at Paris fashion shows, often spotted with members of Europe's fashion elite, even to have been seen several times with close friend and former Chanel creative director, the late Karl Lagerfeld. In May 2022, she appeared alongside her daughter, Charlotte Casiraghi, a Chanel brand ambassador, at a Chanel show during Paris Couture Week, according to Tatler.

As Hello Monaco reported, the U.K. public took note of Caroline's sense of fashion after BBC's 2020 documentary series "Inside Monaco: Playground of the Rich," where she shined in a Chanel feathered gown at the Casino de Monte Carlo.

In June 2020, Vogue named her "one of Europe's most stylish royals" and reflected on her style through the decades — the highlights included her laid-back '70s style complete with denim and stripes, while accessorizing with her must-have bandana, and sexy evening looks, like a silky white dress with plunging neckline. The '80s saw the princess turn heads in a pink, tiered, one-shoulder gown and a buttoned-down, collared maxi dress in luxurious purple velvet. Vogue wrapped up with the heiress seen in a light blue, double-breasted skirt suit and black wide-brim hat in 1997.

Princess Caroline separated from husband Prince Ernst-August of Hanover in 2009

While we were all delighted to see Princess Caroline find love again after losing her second husband in a tragic boating accident, it appears that their relationship was not as it seemed. In 2009, the princess separated from her third husband, Prince Ernst-August of Hanover, whom she had married a decade earlier.

A September 2009 article from the Daily Mail claimed the two had been living separate lives, with Caroline reportedly moving back to Monaco away from the family chateau she shared with Ernst-August south of Paris. The article further referenced a long-held superstition that the family was cursed by a 13th-century witch who claimed the family would not have long-lasting marriages. Though the exact reason for the split was never officially revealed, the prince's rumored infidelity was alleged to be the cause.

The former couple, who share a daughter, have yet to officially divorce. And, considering how costly — and, therefore, messy — a divorce could be, this likely is why they continued to stay married on paper, as Daily Mail published shortly before their separation.

Princess Caroline is committed to the arts

Personal drama and tragedy aside, Princess Caroline of Monaco has been committed to a number of causes throughout the years. One such cause she holds near and dear to her heart is performing arts.

As the daughter of an Oscar-winning American actress, it's no surprise that the princess is committed to the arts herself. In addition to launching the Ballet of Monte Carlo in 1985 — a longtime wish of her late mother — Caroline has served as the president and chairperson of the Monte Carlo Opera, Philharmonic Orchestra, Garden Club, the Spring Arts Festival and, of course, the Princess Grace Foundation, her mother's legacy and commitment to the performing arts (per According to her profile on the Prince's Palace of Monaco official website, the princess began serving as president of the Prince Pierre Foundation and its literary board in 1988. Four years later, the Artistic Board of the International Contemporary Art Prize named her as president.

In 2005, the royal was recognized for her longstanding commitment to the arts by being named Commander of Cultural Merit. That's quite the track record. 

Princess Caroline has been recognized for her extensive philanthropic work

While Princess Caroline has long supported the arts, this represents just one of her philanthropic interests. She's also contributed her passion and leadership to many charitable causes for children, teens, and disabled individuals. According to her official biography for the Prince's Palace of Monaco, in 1981, she founded Jeune J'écoute, an organization that helps troubled youth through a hotline run by trained professionals. 

Additionally, the princess is honorary president of the Guides of Monaco — Monaco's version of Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts of America — having taken part herself during childhood. And she's president of Amade Mondiale, an organization her mother founded to help children facing physical and psychological abuse. 

Outside of Monaco, Caroline is a patron of Peter Le Marchant Trust, a British boating organization benefiting the disabled. In 2007, she and her brother, Prince Albert, organized a fundraiser generating €2.5 million (approximately $2.6 million) for Nelson Mandela's foundation for underprivileged kids, according to Hello Monaco. Albert is in awe of his older sister's efforts. "What she's done over the years, helping Monaco in various ways, on the cultural and charitable sides," he told People. "She's often the first person on board."

As such, Caroline has been repeatedly recognized over the years — by UNESCO, in 2003, while appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for working to advance girls and women's education; by UNICEF, in 2006, when receiving their Children's Champion Award; and, in 2011, by the Worldwide Association of Children's Friends.

She is a devoted mother and grandmother

Princess Caroline has always seemed wise beyond her years. Having to step into her mother's shoes after her death to help her father lead Monaco — something Caroline did so skillfully — surely made her grow up quickly.

Having always wanted to be a mother, it makes sense that she's always had a strong maternal instinct. As noted by the Los Angeles Times, she even once reportedly said, "I was overwhelmed by the desire to have children." Motherhood was not only something the princess had wanted, however. It was also something in which she excelled. 

The royal's younger brother, Prince Albert, is quite fond of her parenting skills, too. "She's a very good mother, and probably an even better grandmother now if that's possible," he once told People. "She really raised her kids well ... I'm incredibly proud of her children and to have them turn out as they have — that's a tribute to her."

In addition to being a mom, the princess is a grandmother of seven (via Town & Country). During Monaco's National Day in November 2018, Caroline appeared alongside her four children and five of her seven grandchildren to mark the public debut of her two youngest royal grandchildren, born a month apart.