02/14/2011 at 01:00 AM EST
Monaco's royal family has always been big on drama-from Prince Albert's fathering of two out-of-wedlock children to Princess Stephanie's short-lived marriage to a circus acrobat. Against that scandalous backdrop, Charlotte Casiraghi has stood out-as much for her discipline and avoidance of the limelight as for the classic beauty she inherited from grandmother Grace Kelly and mother Princess Caroline. "She has an old-world sense of dignity and discretion," says one royal watcher.
Today, at 24, she has her ambitions set on the Olympics (she's an accomplished equestrian), a taste for fashion shows and life in Paris (she grew up nearby, in a home once owned by family friend Karl Lagerfeld) and a devoted boyfriend-British art gallery owner Alex Dellal, 27-who, an insider says, is "very likely" to propose by year's end. "They're a power couple," says a London friend, "but they don't act spoiled."
A happy ending would only be fitting for the young woman who lost her father, Stefano, in a speedboat accident when she was 4-a tragic echo of her grandmother's fatal 1982 car crash. And while a royal wedding would make Casiraghi the center of attention, those who know her say she'd quickly return to her ultraglamorous but private world. Says Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani: "She doesn't want to be a socialite."