Did Curse Put the 'Grim' in Grimaldi?

ByABC News
April 13, 2005, 10:19 PM

April 15, 2005 — -- The scene will be a familiar one as Prince Rainier III is laid to rest today beside his wife, the former movie star Grace Kelly. The Grimaldis know how to do grief all too well.

Legend has it that back in the 13th century, Prince Rainier I kidnapped and raped a beautiful maiden, who became a witch to get her revenge. She cursed the prince's family for generations to come, saying, "Never will a Grimaldi find true happiness in marriage."

Looking at the marital histories of certain members of the clan, it's hard to say the witch was wrong. In fact, some believe her curse has gone beyond its original scope.

The family's most shattering tragedy occurred in 1982, when Princess Grace died of injuries sustained in a car accident. She was just 52.

For Monaco, the death of the popular princess was a terrible blow. For the Grimaldis, it was an incalculable loss.

The worst-hit was her youngest child, Princess Stephanie, who had been in the car when the accident occurred. She would be haunted by rumors that she, not her mother, had been the one behind the wheel.

"I was not driving, that's clear," Stephanie said in an interview with the French magazine Paris Match 20 years after the fatal crash.

The princess said she had had to bear the double trauma of "losing my mother at a very young age, and being at her side at the moment of the accident.

"You cannot imagine the suffering I have endured, and that I endure still," she said.

Since the accident, Stephanie, now 40, has been through a series of scandalous romances. In the 1980s, she made several stabs at a career -- as a model, fashion designer, pop star -- but nothing took.