More than 60 years after Her marriage to Prince Rainier III, the sleek and regal motor yacht M/Y Grace is still a symbol of the timeless taste and elegance of Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco.
The Grace’s own historical journey, however, from its jazz-age launch as a sea-going luxury yacht to its current berth in the Pacific as a high-end charter for wildlife enthusiasts, is even more remarkable.
Constructed in South Hampton, England by the legendary Camper & Nicholsons in 1928, the 147-foot yacht Grace was originally owned by a wealthy Argentinian entrepreneur who named her Monica after his daughter which he used as a personal shuttle across the Atlantic.
Later, at the beginning of World War II, the yacht was “enlisted” by the British
Government. Stripped of her exquisite furnishings and teak paneling, the newly renamed HMS Rion was armor-plated and fitted with machine guns and depth charges to hunt and sink German submarines. Winston Churchill was even a passenger. Her finest hour, however, was when the Rion successfully rescued hundreds of British soldiers trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk.
After the war, Rion was purchased by billionaire Aristotle Onassis who restored her to her original classic beauty and renamed her Arion before offering her as a wedding gift to Prince Rainier.
Welcome to Monaco
The princely family of Monaco’s love affair with the sea is over 700 years old which young Grace Kelly discovered immediately upon arrival in the principality for Her wedding. Having sailed from America aboard the ocean liner SS Constitution with Her family, bridesmaids, and about 80 pieces of luggage, She was greeted in Monaco Harbor by the Prince aboard the newly re-christened Deo Juvante II. It was an amazing and romantic spectacle witnessed by more than 20, 000 spectators who lined the shore awaiting their new princess.
After the wedding, the royal couple began their honeymoon with a short stay in Mallorca, Spain, followed by a cruise aboard the yacht along the coasts of Corsica and Sardinia. The Deo Juvante II (named after the Monaco national slogan “with God's help”) was once again the elegant hostess to carefree, glamourous parties. The princely couple used the vessel to entertain friends, celebrities and heads of state on day-long excursions along the French and Italian Rivieras, as well as for holidays with their growing family.
In the following four decades, the yacht was passed on to other owners bearing new names such as, the Daska, the Angela, and the Zein, and plied the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas, primarily as a charter, and at one point, heroically rescuing residents fleeing the Lebanese Civil War.
A Brave New World
In 2007, she was finally rediscovered, lovingly refurbished and renamed M/Y Grace by Quasar Expeditions, a small-group adventure company specializing in trips to the exquisite wildlife destination of Galápagos.
The new owners used the original blueprints for the hull and technical areas and recreated many of the classic luxury features restored to the highest standards, including elegant teak decking, custom leather seating and hand-crafted wooden fittings.
The result of Quasar’s painstaking restoration is a triumph, according to Vogue, “The interiors are polished and smart, and the public spaces flow effortlessly from one to the next. It is a modern vessel, timeless in its design.”
Her remarkable journey has lasted nearly a century across many seas, time zones, and equatorial borders and- what a life, filled with glamour, romance, adventure, and heroics! She remains today, like her namesake the sublime Princess Grace, an enduring icon of elegance and resilience…an eternal classic.
This post was provided by Annette Ross Anderson. Annette is a partner and Marketing Manager at the iconic Monaco restaurant and sports bar, Stars'N'Bars. Over the last 30 years, she has hosted the Monaco multi-mix of royals, billionaires, celebrities, expats, university students, and yachtsmen that make up Monaco's diverse social universe. Annette also oversees the MonacoUSA Association, a social and business network in the principality. A trained journalist and business writer, she is currently working on a screenplay inspired by the legacy of Princess Grace.
Photo Credits: Quasar