What Grace Kelly Taught the World About Being a Royal
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Pop culture is full of fairy tales where regular people become royalty. While they’re mostly pure fantasy, movies like The Princess Diaries do get one thing right—the royal life takes work. Grace Kelly proves this. When she married Prince Rainier III, she went from Oscar-winning American movie star to Princess of Monaco, swapping one kind of public spotlight for another.
Being Hollywood royalty is not the same as becoming actual royalty, and Grace Kelly knew she was signing up for much more than crowns, gowns, and parties. As a royal, she modeled leadership, generosity, and style—and whether or not you’re in line for the throne, you can take a page from her guidebook and live your life with care and purpose.
1. Make People a Priority
Grace Kelly was a hard-working actress, and she brought that focus to her role as a princess. Her goal? A better world for everyone. When she took over the presidency of the Monaco Red Cross from her husband, it became one of the world’s most generous branches. She then founded the World Association of Children's Friends (AMADE) in 1963, a global network that supports the development, education, and health of children and is now headed by Princess Grace’s daughter Princess Caroline.
Decking out Monaco’s cultural scene was her next priority. She worked to connect with and revitalize the Monte Carlo Ballet, and she made sure the principality’s remaining Belle Époque architecture stayed standing. As part of her ongoing legacy, the Princess Grace Foundation USA continues to support performing artists in America.
Through philanthropy, Princess Grace showed that the true privilege of having a title is the ability to empower communities. As an actress, she was always known for her dignity and kindness. As a princess, she took those traits to new heights.
2. Remember Who You Are and What You Love
The kind of pressure that comes with being in the public eye—first as a Hollywood actress, then as a royal—could have pushed Grace Kelly to lose her individuality. But as much as joining the Monaco Princely family changed the trajectory of her life, Princess Grace stayed true to herself and Her signature style, fully embodying her name: Grace.
When she moved to Monaco, she brought 80 bags of luggage filled with silk scarves for her hair, modest-but-chic swimsuits, and linen separates—designer items that were right for a princess while still on brand for who she was as a person. Her style blended a love for the classics and an interest in dressing for every moment. Even as a princess, she kept her independent spirit and a wardrobe for the ages.
She also never lost touch with her roots. Princess Grace hosted American Week in Monaco, where guests would play baseball and eat ice cream, and the palace celebrated American Thanksgiving each year. She valued her Irish heritage as well—so much so that Prince Rainier III established The Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco in her memory. For Princess Grace, staying true to herself meant cherishing her personal traditions—and making new ones no matter where in the world she found herself.
3. Inspire the Next Generation
Grace Kelly has a lot of clout as an actress and a princess, but she was perhaps most proud of being a mother. She and Prince Rainier had three children together—Caroline, Albert, and Stéphanie—and Princess Grace protected them from the media’s prying eyes. When the cameras did snap the princely family, they showed Princess Grace as a caring parent—no surprise to anyone familiar with her work with AMADE.
Princess Grace was a guide and mentor to her children and her principality—not to mention children all over the world. She took her influence seriously, and invested it in the change-makers of the future.
Royal stories make for great clickbait, but Grace Kelly was more than that. She wasn’t the first American to marry European royalty, but her intentional approach to life—and her care for those around her—make her an example worth a re-watch.
See Grace Kelly’s top five fashion moments to learn more about her lasting impact on pop culture and what it means to be a modern icon.
Credits: Town & Country Magazine, Princess Grace Foundation, princessgracekelly / yehyehgrace, Princess Grace Foundation