by Susan Flantzer
Born on December 28, 1920 in Paris, France, Princess Antoinette of Monaco, Baroness de Massy (Antoinette Louise Alberte Suzanne), was the eldest of the two children of Princess Charlotte of Monaco, Duchess of Valentinois and Count Pierre de Polignac. Antoinette had one younger brother:
- Prince Rainier III of Monaco (1923 – 2005), married Grace Kelly, had three children including Prince Albert II of Monaco
Antoinette’s mother Charlotte was the illegitimate daughter of the future Prince Louis II of Monaco and his mistress Marie Juliette Louvet. Her parents had met the previous year in Paris, where Marie was working as a hostess in a nightclub. Because Louis was unmarried and without an heir, the Monegasque throne was likely to pass to a distant cousin, the German Duke of Urach. In order to avoid this, Louis’ father, Prince Albert I, had a law passed recognizing Charlotte as Louis’ heir and part of the princely family. Her grandfather created her HSH Princess Charlotte of Monaco and Duchess of Valentinois. Upon Louis’ accession in 1922, Charlotte became Hereditary Princess of Monaco. Charlotte and her husband Pierre divorced in 1933. Having been born illegitimate, and now divorced, Charlotte knew that she would never be fully accepted by the very Catholic Monaco, so she renounced her rights to the Monegasque throne in May 1944 in favor of her son Rainer.
Antoinette married three times:
(1) Princess Antoinette had a long-term affair with Alexandre-Athenase Noghès, a tennis player. The couple had three illegitimate children who were later legitimized when their parents married in 1951. The marriage lasted only three years. In 1951, Antoinette was created Baroness de Massy. Her children’s original surname was Grimaldi, the surname of the Princely Family of Monaco. The children changed their surname to de Massy and began to use the titles Baron and Baroness although not entitled to do so. After they were legitimized, Antoinette’s children were in the line of succession to the throne of Monaco until the death of Prince Rainier II in 2005.
- Baroness Elisabeth-Anne de Massy (born 1947)
- Baron Christian Louis de Massy (born 1949)
- Baroness Christine Alix de Massy (1951 – 1989)
(2) Princess Antoinette married Dr. Jean-Charles Rey, President of the Conseil National, Monaco’s legislature, in 1961. Before they married, Antoinette and Rey had a long-term affair. During the 1950s, Antoinette and Rey sought to obtain the throne of Monaco for Antoinette’s son Christian. They spread malicious rumors that Prince Rainier’s fiancée, actress Gisèle Pascal, was unable to have children. This resulted in the cancellation of Rainier and Gisèle’s engagement and Antoinette’s estrangement from the princely family for years. She did not fully reconcile with her family until after the death of Princess Grace in 1982. Antoinette and Rey had no children and divorced in 1974.
(3) In 1983, Princess Antoinette married a former British ballet dancer John Gilpin. Gilpin died from a heart attack six weeks after marrying Antoinette.
After her estrangement with her family, Antoinette lived in her villa Le Bout de Monde in Èze-sur-Mer on the French Riviera with her many dogs and cats. She was the president of Monaco’s Society for the Protection of Animals.
Princess Antoinette died at The Princess Grace Hospital Centre on March 18, 2011, at age 90. She was buried at the Chapelle de la Paix in Monaco beside her parents, her daughter Christine who died in 1989, and her last husband, John Gilpin. Stefano Casiraghi, second husband of her niece Princess Caroline, who died in a boating accident in 1990 is also buried at the Chapelle de la Paix.
YouTube: Funeral of Princess Antoinette
Structurae: Chapelle de la Paix (in French)
- De.wikipedia.org. (2017). Antoinette Grimaldi. [online] Available at: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoinette_Grimaldi [Accessed 27 Jul. 2017].
- En.wikipedia.org. (2017). Princess Antoinette, Baroness of Massy. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Antoinette,_Baroness_of_Massy [Accessed 27 Jul. 2017].
- Fr.wikipedia.org. (2017). Antoinette de Monaco. [online] Available at: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoinette_de_Monaco [Accessed 27 Jul. 2017].
- Unofficial Royalty. (2017). Princess Charlotte of Monaco, Duchess of Valentinois. [online] Available at: http://www.unofficialroyalty.com/september-30-1898-birth-of-princess-charlotte-of-monaco-duchess-of-valentinois/ [Accessed 27 Jul. 2017].