Unless you have been living in a cave for the past weeks and months, you know that there was a royal wedding on May 19, 2018. Prince Harry, younger son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana of Great Britain, married Meghan Markle of the United States.
Nearly 30 million Americans watched the royal nuptials on 15 networks. This number was up considerably from the 23 million who watched the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 on 11 networks. In 1981 just more than 17 million Americans watched on 4 networks as Prince Charles married Lady Diana in 1981.
So, what makes the difference in the number of Americans interested? Surely, we must count improvements in modern technology as a big reason. Maybe people were turned off by the formalities of the weddings of the heirs to the throne and liked the scaled down plans of Harry and Meghan better. Maybe it was the fact that Meghan is unabashedly proud of her mixed race heritage and a wonderful example to other girls and women of color. Surely, it is the ultimate Cinderella story! However, it could be the fact that Meghan was an actress for a few years and had her own following before she married a prince. Maybe it is the fact that people do not remember another American actress who married a prince.
Grace Patricia Kelly began her acting career in 1950 at age 20. “She appeared in New York City theatrical production and more than 40 episodes of live drama productions broadcast during the early 1950s Golden Age of Television.” Other important facts about Grace Kelly are as follow.
In October 1953, she gained stardom from her performance in director John Ford’s film Mogambo starring Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, which won her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination in 1954. Subsequently, she had leading roles in five films, including The Country Girl (1954) with Bing Crosby, for which her deglamorized performance earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Other films include High Noon (1952) with Gary Cooper, Dial M for Murder (1954) with Ray Milland, Rear Window (1954) with James Stewart, To Catch a Thief (1955) with Gary Grant, and High Society (1956) with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.
As you can see from the list of accomplishments and the names of major co-stars, Grace Kelly was among the top actresses in the United States. In fact, she met Prince Rainier III, the sovereign of Monaco, when she led the U.S. delegation to the Cannes Film Festival in April 1955 where he invited her to come to his palace in Monaco for a photo session. There were some delays and complications – including a French actor in her life, but Kelly eventually went to his palace on May 6, 1955.
Kelly returned to the United States to work on The Swan – acting the part of a princess. She also began correspondence with the prince. Prince Rainer arrived in New York City on December 16, 1955, on an officially designated “tour of America” that was scheduled to last for two months, and there was much speculation that he was looking for a wife. The prince met Kelly and her family while on his tour – and proposed three days later. “She accepted, and the families began preparations for what the press at that time dubbed “The Wedding of the Century.”
MGM Studio released Kelly’s last film, High Society, in 1955. “Kelly wore her own engagement ring in the film and sang a duet with Bing Crosby, “True Love,” a song with words and music by Cole Porter.”
There was much preparation for this royal wedding, including repainting and redecorating the palace. The wedding day finally arrived, and the wedding was attended by many famous people, including Aristotle Onassis, Cary Grant, David Niven, Gloria Swanson, and Ava Gardner. Thirty million people watched the wedding on live television.
To satisfy the requirements for both the nation and the Catholic Church, there were two wedding ceremonies for Prince Rainer and Kelly. They were married in a civil ceremony on April 18, 1956, and a religious ceremony on April 19. The couple embarked for their seven-week Mediterranean honeymoon on the royal yacht. They eventually became the parents of three children: Caroline, Albert II (the current ruler), and Stephanie.
Kelly held dual citizenship, American and Monegasque. In spite of having 142 official titles that corresponded to those of her husband, she was known simply as Princess Grace of Monaco. She suffered a stroke while driving home to Monaco on September 13, 1982, and died the following day.
I was a child when Grace Kelly married Prince Rainer, and I remember the excitement of Americans that one of their own was marrying a prince. I can understand American excitement with the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan, but I hope that we will remember that Grace Kelly and Meghan Markle are not the only Americans to marry royalty. In fact, there have been ten other American women who have done so. Meghan is merely joining a small but elite club!