Ln September 13, 1982, the destiny of Grace of Monaco was shattered in the barrels and the broken windows of her Rover, on the heights of Monaco. She is 52 years old, the Monegasques freeze, the fairy tale ends, the legend takes shape… With its procession of rumours, conspiracies and implausibilities. It is said that his daughter Stephanie was driving the car, that the engine was sabotaged by the mafia or by the sect of the Solar Temple which would have seduced the princess but which would not have paid a large sum, contrary to its promises…
What do we know about the accident, forty years after the events? This morning of September 13, Grace decided to accompany her daughter Stéphanie to Paris, leaving the heights of Roc Agel, this private estate laid out by Rainier hundreds of meters above the Rock. The “hurricane” princess – who has not yet released her summer hit – must make her comeback and join haute couture classes, even if she is especially eager to find her Parisian gang, in particular her boyfriend at the time. , Paul Belmondo.The car is ready to go to Monaco, the driver is waiting, but Grace decides to drive, in particular so as not to have to crumple her dresses which occupy the back seat. The driver protests, he knows that his boss hates the bends of the Corniche, but nothing helps. Grace leaves the estate at 9:30 a.m. and begins the descent that includes dozens of switchbacks, some of them hairpins. Mother and daughter are chatting, they haven’t fastened their seat belts, when tragedy strikes: around 10:05 a.m., the Rover rushes straight into a bend, hovers for a while in the void before tipping into the trees and brush and to finish its route about forty meters lower on the edge of a vegetable garden.
Stéphanie manages to get out through the front left door, shouting: “Mommy is dead! Mom is dead! “She has a broken vertebra but will get out of it despite the concussion and will have to wear a neck brace for a while. On the other hand, the state of Grace is dramatic: crushed lung, sunken chest, hemorrhage in the stomach, broken right femur, wound on the forehead… The princess is unconscious, her eyes glassy, her head on the rear window, in a coma deep, already at death’s door.
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Repatriated to the hospital that bears her name, she was immediately operated on and then placed on an artificial respirator. His vital prognosis is engaged, a scanner revealed irreversible brain damage. The next morning, the electroencephalogram is flat, Grace is considered clinically dead, Prince Rainier is devastated: he understands that his wife is reduced to a vegetative state and takes the difficult decision to authorize the disconnection of the machines. The princess died at 10:35 p.m., without ever regaining consciousness.
READ ALSOCannes: when Grace Kelly falls into the ambush of Prince RainierIt is then that the rumors get carried away, as for Diana fifteen years later. How to accept, for an audience nourished by stories and glamorous pages, to see a princess swept away in a simple road accident? The most tenacious – and the most atrocious – will be to blame her daughter Stéphanie, suspected of having driven without a license in her mother’s place: didn’t she leave by the left front door of the Rover? In reality, if she did, it was because it was the only way for her to get out of the vehicle, the car being heavily flattened on the right side.
A few minutes before the accident, several witnesses clearly saw a blonde woman driving the Rover, including the driver of a truck who was following the car and saw her negotiate several turns before heading straight for the precipice. What really happened? The CT scan performed on Grace shows that she may have suffered a mild stroke, affecting her gestures and responsiveness at the worst possible moment. Rainier will acknowledge that his wife often complained of migraines at the time and was undergoing treatment for hypertension.
The Shadow of the Sun Temple
Another track: the princess would have been the victim of the revenge of the Order of the Solar Temple, a sect she had just joined… A far-fetched hypothesis which was the subject of a documentary broadcast in 1997 by British television Channel Four , infuriating the Palace. We learned that the princess had joined the sect through a relative of Prince Rainier and made a contribution of 60 million francs, while the guru claimed 100 million, causing great tension.
A case that Rainier himself denied to the historian Jean des Cars years later, citing a rumor linked to one of his friends who was interested in the Templars and the quest for the Grail. “Everything has been deliberately distorted,” explained the sovereign prince. I wasn’t interested, neither was the princess. As an Irish Catholic, she was fiercely against sects. He had arranged an old commandery near La Turbie. We have never attended any ceremony of any kind at his house…”
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Could the car have been tampered with and sabotaged before the course to harm the princely family? On the very day of the accident, the Rover was closely examined under the supervision of the public prosecutor of Nice, the director of public security of Monaco as well as Roger Bencze, the police officer of Menton in charge of the investigation. Nothing abnormal was reported, the policeman assuring that no one had come to hinder his investigation and that “the engine of the car was not defective in any way”, according to comments reported by the historian Jean des Cars, in his biography devoted to Grace. A finding confirmed by Rover’s experts, who judged the vehicle to be in perfect condition after an extensive check of the brakes, steering and gearbox – the prince, a great car lover, has always maintained them with care.
So why were so many rumors and mysteries raised during the tragedy? For Jean des Cars, the simplest explanation is poor communication from the Palace, which proved messy and clumsy. “There was first a territorial mess, since the accident took place in French territory, it was therefore necessary to warn several authorities who had to agree, explains today the historian. Added to this is a media mess, since the head of the press center of the principality, Nadia Lacoste, was at the same time on vacation in the Black Forest. By the time she got home, took the press releases in hand, the silences and the approximations had done their undermining work…”
To read : Unforgettable Gace of Monaco, by Jean des Cars, editions of the Rock (2022)
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