Decades before Meghan Markle joined the royal family in the United Kingdom, another American actress made headlines for becoming a princess. Grace Kelly famously married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, in what was described as the “wedding of the century” back in 1956. However, if it hadn’t been for a chance meeting with another starlet at the time, Kelly might not have ever crossed paths with her Prince.
A year before their wedding, Kelly traveled to France to attend the Cannes Film Festival, and just so happened to be on the same train as Gone With the Wind actress Olivia de Havilland, and her husband, Pierre Galante. The actresses had never met before, but after hearing about their fellow passenger, de Havilland and Galante quickly began plotting for her to meet his friend, Prince Rainier III. Galante met the prince while growing up in Nice, France, situated right in-between Monaco and Cannes.
“I’m tempted to think it was destiny,” de Havilland told People. After meeting with Kelly on the train platform between the dining car and another carriage, de Havilland described Kelly as a “rather reserved, self-possessed, well brought up young woman.” It speaks volumes to her character that de Havilland was able to glean all of that from one conversation! When she brought up the royal set-up, Kelly immediately agreed, but only on the condition that MGM Studio, who was sponsoring her trip, was on board. Clearly they didn’t have a problem with it, but the meeting between Kelly and Rainier got off to a rocky start.
A labor strike in Cannes caused her to lose electricity, meaning she wasn’t able to style her hair as usual or even iron her outfit. Still, she and Galante made their way to Rainier’s palace about an hour’s drive away from their hotel. Despite the rough morning, de Havilland (who didn’t attend the meeting) said her husband “praised afterward how flawlessly Grace endeavored to observe the protocol required for presentation to the prince.”
When the engagement was announced seven months later, de Havilland wasn’t the least bit surprised, but she was “charmed by it.” You might think the actresses became good friends after all the matchmaking, but they only met one other time after their fateful chat on the train.
“I was lunching with an American friend at a restaurant in Paris and saw Princess Grace at a table across the room with Princess Caroline, then about 10 years of age,” she explained, “When they finished and were leaving, Princess Grace very graciously came to my table to greet me. Of course, I rose and curtsied.”
It’s crazy to think that if either of them had slightly altered their travel plans, Kelly and Rainier might not have ever met! We have to agree with de Havilland — their romance was destined.