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- June 25, 1984
- Vol. 21
- No. 25
A New Beginning for Monaco's Princess
Five and a Half Months After Her Surprise Wedding, Grace's Volatile Daughter Caroline Gives Prince Rainier His First Grandchild
To be sure, Caroline's untitled infant—he will be known simply as Andrea Albert Casiraghi—is only fourth in line of Monaco's succession. Moreover, his appearance is noticeably premature, having arrived less than six months after his mother's marriage to Stefano Casiraghi, 23, son of an Italian industrialist. The palace downplayed the birth, issuing a three-line announcement; Nadia Lacoste, the royal spokeswoman, was on an extended trip to the U.S. The Monégasques preferred to look the other way at Caroline's out-of-wedlock pregnancy but outsiders were more outspoken. "Princess Grace was a wonderful woman. But her daughters—ugh!" said a frequent visitor from Paris, Madame Jean Busnard.
Rainier too was saddened and angered—not just by Caroline's premature pregnancy, but by her choice of Casiraghi. According to one palace insider, "The Prince thinks Stefano is a wimp." The young businessman has not been awarded any of the more than 50 titles Rainier can bestow. Still, the Prince supported his daughter. After Andrea's arrival he sent telegrams to friends and relatives: "I am happy to announce that I'm the grandfather of a little boy named Andrea Albert, born this night at 10:50. Caroline and the baby are doing well."
At 7 p.m. the Princess and Stefano arrived at Princess Grace Hospital, where a second-floor suite had been prepared for her in the maternity wing. They were joined a short while later by Rainier and Caroline's brother, Albert. When the Princess gave birth, without anesthesia, Stefano was waiting outside the delivery room. Andrea Albert, named after both a friend of Casiraghi's who died of a pulmonary embolism a few years ago and Caroline's brother, was delivered by Parisian obstetrician Emile Hervet. The doctor had also presided at the birth of Caroline and her siblings. Cradling Andrea in her arms, Caroline beamed as her father and husband took turns snapping pictures.
Since her mother's death two years ago, the Princess has been committed to her role as Monaco's First Lady, and that is not expected to change. Until last month she worked from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day in an office in the palace. Meanwhile, Casiraghi, who has been given no official responsibilities, spends his days exercising his new royal connections. He recently bought into the franchise of Monaco's two Dior boutiques with some Italian friends. The young man has also purchased a former Ford dealership, where he plans to sell fancy cars. The palace press office describes him as "an enterprising, creative young businessman."
Stefano also has tried car racing, competing early in May in a Subaru at the Atlas Rally, a cross country ordeal beginning in Lyons, France, and ending in Agardir, Morocco. His car overturned in a hole in the Erfoud trail in the southern Moroccan desert. Stefano was rescued by paparazzi who had pursued him. They drove him to the nearest town, 45 minutes away. Casiraghi carried their film of the incident back to their publications in Paris.
The most recent of his racing appearances has been on water, in the second annual Grand Prix Offshore Riccaronna Trophy in late May in Monaco. Caroline watched the start through binoculars from a palace window. After 10 minutes her husband's boat blew an engine and disappeared in a cloud of black smoke, forcing Stefano to drop out of the event. "Stefano has read too many comic books," says a friend. "He gets behind the wheel of a fast boat or car and lives out his hero fantasies without really knowing what he's doing."
Friends hope the new baby will strengthen the couple's marriage, which was tainted from the start by Rainier's disapproval. Says one observer, "The Prince makes it obvious that he feels Stefano is not good enough to be married to his daughter."
There was a time when Caroline's leading escort was Robertino Rossellini, the 34-year-old son of Ingrid Bergman. Rossellini, a real estate agent turned stockbroker, is a close friend of Prince Albert and a confidant of Princess Stephanie. "Suddenly Caroline threw Robertino out the door for a 23-year-old with no apparent profession," says a pal. "She was pregnant, so there was very little Rainier could do. I doubt Stefano will ever endear himself to the Prince."
At palace functions Stefano seems awkward and out of place. So far he has not demonstrated the charm and stamina necessary for a ceremonial life. Bland and taciturn, he is overpowered by the vibrant, tempestuous Caroline. "The main attraction is that she can tell him what to do—'Drive me to the airport,' 'Come shopping with me,'—and he'll never complain," says an acquaintance. "Stefano is an eager lapdog."
But not necessarily a faithful one. Casiraghi has already displayed habits reminiscent of Philippe Junot, the rakish Frenchman whom Caroline divorced in 1980 after a disastrous 28-month marriage. Last March, when Caroline was in England working on a charity film, Casiraghi and two male friends went skiing at St. Moritz. One afternoon paparazzi snapped the 10-week bridegroom romping on the slopes with a 20-year-old beauty, Christine van Schrabel. Later Stefano loaded Christine's skis into his white Land-Rover, and the pair drove off to spend the evening together at a friend's chalet.
The incident sparked Stefano's first serious quarrel with Caroline. Says one friend, "She told him to quit his playboy behavior and remember that he was a married man. Of course, Stefano claimed that it was an innocent episode, but he had a harder time explaining that to Rainier."
The Prince tolerates Stefano for Caroline's sake but has not exactly adopted his son-in-law's family. In Rainier's opinion the Casiraghis are nouveau riche. (Stefano's grandfather saved the small salary he earned as a railroad-crossing guard in Lombardy so that Stefano's father could become a schoolteacher; instead, Giancarlo Casiraghi made a fortune in oil and real estate.) The day after the wedding, journalists were surprised to find Stefano wandering like a tourist around the lobby of Loews Hotel in Monte Carlo looking for some of his relatives. Members of his immediate family had not been invited to stay at the palace but were put up in one of the Principality's chic hotels. They dined with Rainier at just one prenuptial dinner and have seldom been invited to the palace since. "Stefano's not likely to complain," says one friend. "Being married to a princess is more than he'd ever hoped for in life."
Caroline continues to seek a declaration of nullity of her marriage to Junot so that she can wed Casiraghi in a Catholic ceremony. No judgment has yet been handed down by the Vatican. Before her death Princess Grace visited Rome to press the matter. Both Caroline and Rainier have made similar appeals to the Pope. Her pregnancy concealed by Dior outfits designed especially for her, Caroline arrived in Rome last February and checked into Monaco's embassy. Next morning she appeared before the Sacra Rota in the Piazza Delia Cancelleria, presumably to testify. She is also believed to have had a personal papal audience. According to one source, the Pope told Caroline that he was extremely disappointed in her and that he did not approve of her superficiality. "Did you ever make a sacrifice to save your marriage?" he asked her.
For now Caroline is preoccupied with her baby. Three days after Andrea's birth she left Princess Grace Hospital embracing her newborn son and smiling joyously for the press. Unlike many of the privileged, Caroline does not plan to consign the care of her child to servants. Andrea, who has no nanny at present, is sleeping in a nursery next to his mother's bedroom at Clos St. Pierre, the Princess' pink and green villa. Like her mother before her, Caroline will be breast-feeding her offspring. As Princess Grace once observed, "With the first pangs of birth, one begins to say farewell to one's child. For no sooner has it entered the world than others begin to demand their share. With the baby at one's breast, one keeps the warmth of possession a little longer."
- Roger Laing,
- Cathy Nolan.
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