Grace of Monaco is an attempt to portray the early married life of the late Grace Kelly, who became Princess Grace of Monaco. Played with elegance as well as vivacity by Nicole Kidman, the Princess Grace in the picture was not the icy image of perfection with which outside observers may be familiar, but behind the frozen-frame pictures was a thoughtful and compassionate person who was trying to do the best for her children and her charity causes, make her relationship work with her husband, who had become increasingly distant, and fulfill peoples’ expectations of her as a princess. She also struggles with the temptation of going back to work in the movies after marriage and children, back when such a thing just “wasn’t done”. This becomes especially acute when Alfred Hitchcock pays her a personal visit to the palace offer her the leading lady role in Marnie.
Though Grace of Monaco does not claim to be a documentary, it does attempt to make a dramatic portrayal of true historical events, and Grace’s role in them, which had been largely obscured by larger historical events and the passing of time. Grace is shown to have had a subtle but nonetheless important role in helping to persuade De Gaulle, then leader of France, to apply a looser hand to Monaco, whom he had been threatening with blockage and taxation. During this particular crisis of international relations, the workings of the government of Monaco are shown. Though Monaco is a principality, and Prince Ranier was the reigning prince at the time, it was shown to operate with a cabinet of advisers and top decision-makers, much like more modern forms of government. However, unlike the US, Monaco does not have formally written separation of Church and State in its governmental charter, and a Catholic priest serves in an advisory capacity at some council sessions, as well as as a spiritual adviser for the royal family. The priest hardly seems to be grasping for influence for himself or on behalf of the church, but the church nevertheless has more of a direct influence on the government of Monaco than perhaps other countries. Monaco’s history is intermingled with that of the Catholic Church when it still exercised influence over the secular politics of Europe. During a history lesson for Grace from palace personnel, it is said that one of the events in Monaco’s past was its successful fight for independence from France when Monagasque troops “disguised as Franciscan Friars” stormed a strategic fortress on a rocky cliff. The lines between the machinery of the government and the private life of the family are blurred. In the movie, this chaplain, an American, native English speaker, was portrayed as having a close and friendly relationship with Grace, and attempting to help her bridge the gap between her and her husband. In the movie portrayal, he went so far as to write the Vatican, asking for reassignment back to America, after the couple is shown using him as a “go-between” rather than airing their grievances and discussing their problems directly with each other. When Grace became aware of this (after having barged into the priests’ quarters and riffled through his personal correspondence, something a mature and well-behaved Catholic layperson was unlikely to have ever done), he claimed at in his present position in Monaco, he was a “bad priest” and that at a new assignment in America, he would have the opportunity to be a “good priest”. He seemed initially like someone Grace might have known before she married Ranier, and had invited along as her private chaplain. But this was not the case in the historical record, where it is written that the American priest was assigned as chaplain to the royal family of Monaco, and had been a “cool” priest when previously associating with Ranier, rather than the traditionally-garbed figure in the black biretta and soutane seen in the movie. How much influence Ranier had on the priest and how much influence the priest had on Ranier might never be known. But it is known that Ranier and the priest had previously made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1954 before Ranier married Grace, ostensibly to pray for a suitable bride for Ranier. Whereupon, in a case of synchronicity that devout Catholics would regard as an answer of divine origin to their prayers, Grace said that her confirmation name had been Bernadette, the name of the saint who saw the vision of the Blessed Virgin at Lourdes, thus linking Grace Kelly with the petition publicly made at Lourdes!
Tucker was the Prince’s personal chaplain and assigned by the Vatican as his personal advisor. An American was appointed because both France and Italy were interested in the position and the Vatican did not want to chose between those two nations. …This doesn’t necessarily add up with the serious figure Frank Langella portrays in the film, at least from what I’ve seen in the trailers. It also doesn’t confirm whether Tucker had as close of a relationship with Kelly as he does in the movie. How much does the film get right? It would make sense that Princess Grace, alone in a foreign country and with a role she never imagined playing, would confide in another American who was in a similar position. It’s difficult to tell just how much of this particular storyline is true, and what has been fictionalized, so as viewers we’ll just have to decide for ourselves.

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