04/13/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT
AT MONACO'S RECENT BAL DE LA Rose, Princesses Stephanie and Caroline both carried bouquets of the fragrant flowers. But for Stephanie, 33, the blooms served more than a decorative function: When time came for an official family photo to be taken, the roses helped hide the single princess's newly bulging tummy.
Her pregnancy, however, did not shock the 900 guests at the March 28 soiree. Rumors that Prince Rainier's wild child was carrying Baby No. 3 had begun circulating in February, when the usually stick-thin Stephanie—who divorced husband and former bodyguard Daniel Ducruet in 1996 after photos emerged of him frolicking with a stripper—suddenly looked curvier (and happier) and traded jogging for swimming. But despite her obvious condition—she is due in August—neither princess nor palace will confirm the pregnancy or, more mysteriously, the father. Most likely it is Stephanie's latest bodyguard turned beau, Jean-Raymond Gottlieb, 30, who has shared her Monaco villa since last fall, though rumors that the two split up surfaced after the princess traveled to the French ski resort of Auron without Gottlieb last month. Some speculate that Ducruet, the father of Louis, 5, and Pauline, 3, may have wormed his way back into his ex's good graces.
Most Monegasques are rooting for Gottlieb, who has reportedly won Rainier's approval and differs from the men in Stephanie's past in one important way: "He's a very nice guy," says a source close to the palace.