Princess Antoinette of Monaco was born into one of the most prestigious royal families in Europe, with all the privileges that were afforded. But instead of feeling grateful, Antoinette only wanted more, and more, and more—until the disturbing day it all unraveled for her.
1. She Came From A Messy Royal Line
The Monegasque royal family, the Grimaldis, may be synonymous with glamour, but they’re also notoriously messy—and Princess Antoinette of Monaco is right in the middle of that mess. Although she would soon become infamous for causing her own adult family drama, the turmoil started when she was just a little girl.
2. Her Parents Were In A Loveless Marriage
Antoinette’s parents, Prince Pierre and Princess Charlotte, had an extremely bitter marriage, and the arrival of Antoinette in 1920 and brother Prince Rainier in 1923 didn’t do anything to help it. They fought constantly—and the royal family hid some dirty little secrets.
For one, Antoinette’s mother nursed suspicions that her father was stepping out with other men. But that was just the beginning of the nightmare.
3. Her Mother Abandoned Her
In 1930, when Antoinette was just 10 years old, the royal marriage broke down entirely. Flouting every palace convention, her long-suffering mother then all but abandoned the family to go live with her Italian lover. Alone and defenseless, Antoinette and her brother Rainier went to live with their grandfather, the reigning Prince Louis II. Unfortunately, the damage was already done to Antoinette. And it was starting to show.
4. She Was An Attention Hog
Princess Antoinette was painfully petite—her nickname in the family was “Tiny”—but she began to develop a very oversized ego, especially with no real parental figures around to check her. Her nanny doted on her to excess, to the point that when her younger brother Rainier came along, Antoinette was filled with jealousy when she paid more attention to him. Well, she was about to get an even ruder awakening.
5. She Nursed A Grudge
When Antoinette was around five years old, she made a brutal discovery. She realized that, thanks to the Monegasque succession laws, her younger brother Rainier was heir to the throne and not her. Antoinette also figured out that this was why the palace staff showered him with compliments and attention, while she got the short end of the stick.
It was a difficult conclusion to come to for a little girl, and it would set the dark pattern of her life.
6. She Struck Up An Affair
As Antoinette entered young adulthood, the press took a cue from her family pet name and christened her “Princess Tinypants”—but behind closed doors, the cutesy young woman was getting up to very adult stuff. By her early 20s, she was in a relationship with Alexandre-Athenase Noghes, an international tennis champion and lawyer. But there was a catch.
7. She Had Several Love Children
As we all know, royal families are usually big on presenting a perfect, unimpeachable image to the public, and often insist their members adhere to conservative morals. Well, Princess Antoinette apparently didn’t get the memo. Throughout her long-standing affair with Noghes, she had no fewer than three children out of wedlock: Elizabeth, Christian, and Christine. Then she made a somewhat bizarre decision.
8. She Was Unconventional
After nearly a decade together, Princess Antoinette and her lover Alexandre decided it was high time to actually get married, if only to legitimize their children. They tied the knot just weeks after their third child’s birth, and it appeared like Antoinette was going to settle down at last and be a “proper” princess. But life threw her a curveball instead.
9. Her Marriage Fell Apart
By some cruel twist of fate, making it official with Alexandre-Athenase Noghes was one of the worst things for their relationship. Marriage apparently ruined their chemistry, and after so long together, they divorced just three years after Princess Antoinette walked down the aisle. Perhaps it was the heartbreak, but this is right about when Antoinette hatched a truly diabolical plan.
10. She Hated Her Brother’s Life
Just before Antoinette’s doomed marriage, her brother Rainier had become the reigning Prince of Monaco. Like so many of the Grimaldis, Rainier had dashing looks and charisma to spare, and his popularity was through the roof. So right after her divorce, Antoinette didn’t rebound on a new man. She rebounded by trying to ruin her brother’s life.
11. She Knew Her Brother’s Weak Spot
Prince Rainier might have looked like he had it all, but he had one weak spot: He hadn’t yet married, so he hadn’t yet produced any heirs. Antoinette, however, and her son Christian right there, and she became convinced that he should be Rainier’s heir. With her ruling as regent until he came of age, naturally. But instead of, you know, trying to convince Rainier of this, Antoinette came up with a truly sinister idea.
12. She Had A Rival
Rainier might not be a husband, but he was in a long-term relationship with the beautiful French film actress Gisele Pascal, who had been his girlfriend since his college days. The Prince of Monaco was head over heels for her, and the pair were obviously planning to tie the knot and make many, many babies, blocking Antoinette’s ascent to the throne. As it turned out, Antoinette used this to devastating advantage.
13. She Started Vicious Rumors
In the 1950s, Antoinette set off a chain of events that shattered the royal family. Terrified her brother was going to marry Gisele Pascal, she began spreading rumors that Pascal was—horror of all horrors—infertile, and thus couldn’t provide her brother with an heir. It was as heartless an act as they come, but Antoinette was just getting started.
14. She Was A Horrible Snob
Not content to merely cast aspersions on Gisele’s womb, Antoinette also loudly sneered to anyone who would listen about her potential sister-in-law’s lowly connections and family background, not to mention that she got her money through the scandalous profession of acting. The thing is, Antoinette wasn’t very sneaky about it, and her brother quickly traced the rumors back to her.
When he begged and then commanded her to stop, she only took it up a notch.
15. She Came Up With A Devastating Lie
Antoinette was as hard-headed as they come, and her brother’s protests—whether he was the ruler of Monaco or not—didn’t make a dent in her resolve to bury Gisele Pascal’s reputation. Instead, she turned around and came up with possibly her most vicious rumor of all: That Pascal had cheated on Rainier with his friends. When that still didn’t work, she changed tactics.
16. She Was A True Meddler
Eventually, Antoinette eased up a little on attacking Gisele Pascal and instead leaned on Rainier himself. She would frequently burst into his rooms, sometimes when he was in a meeting already, and demand that he make her son his heir for the good of their country.
She once told him, “You have the dreams of a common man. How you were born into this family, I’ll never know”. Eventually—as usual—Antoinette finally got what she wanted.
17. She Changed History
Antoinette had released a lot of whispers, but one of those whispers reached a deafening level. After years with the prince, the rumors of Gisele’s infertility got so loud, the palace performed a fertility test on her. The results that came back were devastating.
The report claimed she actually was infertile. Although Rainier and Gisele might have adopted if they truly wanted, it was the nail in the coffin of their relationship, and they broke up soon after. And then came the twist.
18. Her Lies Came Out
In the end, time proved an extremely shocking truth: Gisele Pascal wasn’t infertile at all, and the doctor who performed the examination had made a mistake. The proof of this? Only a few years later, in 1955, Antoinette’s nemesis Gisele married fellow actor Raymond Pellegrin, and later had a child with him. Then again, by that time, Antoinette had even bigger problems to worry about.
19. Her Plans Fell Apart
If Antoinette thought she’d gotten away with anything when it came to breaking up Rainier and Gisele, karma came back for her tenfold. Because Rainier’s next dalliance sure as heck stuck: In the mid-1950s, he met Hollywood actress Grace Kelly (yes, he had a type).
He quickly married her in 1956 in one of the weddings of the decade. Antoinette, you might have guessed, was now absolutely fuming at this point. All her plans were going up in a puff of smoke—so she got another kind of revenge instead.
20. She Got A Prestigious Invite
It goes without saying that Antoinette disliked Grace Kelly on sight, for all the reasons she despised Gisele Pascal. But then Grace gave her a couple more reasons. Ahead of the wedding, Grace asked Antoinette if she would be a bridesmaid in her bridal party, and even went so far as to bring her one of the yellow dresses that she and the other bridesmaids would wear. Antoinette’s reaction was cruel and calculated.
21. She Felt Offended
Princess Antoinette wasted no time becoming utterly offended that Grace would deign to ask her to be a lowly bridesmaid when she was a freaking Princess. She was especially irked that she would be on the same level as Grace’s normie friends. Poor Grace didn’t know what hit her; she cried “I was only trying to be nice” when aides told her the news. Unfortunately, it was going to get a whole lot worse for the new Princess of Monaco.=
22. She Lost Her Place
Antoinette’s grudge against Grace wasn’t just about the inevitable fact that the new Princess would provide Monaco with an heir. It was also because Grace’s presence now made Antoinette seriously tumble down the palace pecking order. After all, it was Princess Grace who would now host all the big events and have Prince Rainier’s ear. Is it any surprise, then, that Antoinette tried to destroy her brother and his family again?
23. She Was A Schemer
By this time, Antoinette was romantically involved with Jean-Charles Rey, a high-ranking Monegasque government official. It was a match made in hell: Rey was just as ambitious as his royal lover, and it wasn’t long before they were scanning for weaknesses in Rainier’s reign to take him down once and for all. When a banking scandal erupted soon after Rainier’s marriage to Grace Kelly, they pounced.
24. She Tried To Depose Her Own Brother
In the wake of the banking scandal, Antoinette and her lover came this close to ousting Rainier in favor of Antoinette’s own son Christian, thanks again to their spreading rumors about Rainier’s involvement in the scandal and his fitness to rule. Rainier, however, found out in the nick of time and managed to shut Antoinette up and save himself. So now it was Antoinette who found herself on very dangerous ground.
25. She Got Off Easy
After discovering that his own sister was plotting against him (again), Prince Rainier’s next actions were extremely surprising. He could have had Antoinette punished for all manner of treason, but he didn’t. Not out of the goodness of his heart, though, oh no.
He only spared Antoinette because of her confounding but enduring popularity within Monaco, which might plummet his own approval if he reprimanded her. And that wasn’t all.
26. She Permanently Broke Her Brother’s Trust
Antoinette’s machinations this time around had been painfully obvious, so much so that even her most devoted admirers began to whisper that there was something rotten in the royal family. Worried that a PR disaster loomed ahead, Rainier came out and full-on denied all accusations of Antoinette’s attempted coup.
He then worked overtime to make sure the public saw he and Antoinette as close allies, setting up photo op after photo op of the two of them together. She really had gotten away with it all. Even so, something broke that day that could never be repaired, and Rainier never trusted Antoinette again. She would live to regret it.
27. Her Enemies Were Coming For Her
In the following months, the tables finally turned on Princess Antoinette. She was no longer the one making dastardly plans, and her enemies were making some for her. In particular, she had made a huge rival of Princess Grace, especially with her plots against Rainier. The reigning Princess decided not to let that stand, and she put her own plot into motion.
28. Her Sister-In-Law Had Her Number
One night after returning from an event with Prince Rainier, Princess Grace struck against Antoinette. Although Rainier was still upset at his sister, he wasn’t exactly doing much about it, and was even still letting her have apartments in the royal residence. “She wants to topple you,” Grace informed her husband. “She wants to see you fall. I’m sure of it”. Before dawn the next day came, Antoinette’s fate was sealed.
29. Grace Kelly Wanted Her Gone
When Princess Antoinette woke up the next morning, she was in for the shock of her life. Princess Grace hadn’t backed down from her plan, and—fearing her husband would renege on his convictions—she told Prince Rainier she would personally deal with Antoinette. So just as Antoinette woke up, Grace had servants bring in an invitation to “chat” with her. It wasn’t going to be a friendly chat.
30. They Kicked Her Out Of The Palace
Antoinette, not knowing she was already on the back foot, entered into the meeting disheveled and puffy-eyed, while Grace looked impeccable as usual. Then the reigning Princess dropped the news: Antoinette was to leave the royal palace at once, and not return unless Prince Rainier wished it to be so. But the hits kept coming.
31. She Disgraced Her Whole Family
Grace was so fed up with her sister-in-law’s antics, she went full scorched Earth. Not only was Antoinette to leave, but she was going to take all her family’s possessions with her, including those that belonged either to her children or to her lover Jean-Charles Rey, who was by now her fiancé.
As one informant put it, by the end of the tête-á-tête, “Antoinette’s jaw was in her lap”. In shock, she numbly offered to start packing up her things immediately. And that’s when Princess Grace dealt her the coup de gras.
32. She Went Down With A Fight
Instead of saying, “Thanks so much for offering, Antoinette,” Princess Grace coolly informed her meddling sister-in-law that palace aides were packing up her things they spoke. As Grace later recalled, Antoinette then spat out, “You’ve had this planned from the start. I’m sure you’re pleased to see the back of me”. But as she went to leave the room, Grace still got the last laugh.
33. Her Sister-In-Law Humiliated Her
Antoinette was all ready to storm out of the room and maintain some shred of her dignity via indignation, but Grace caught her there, too. Her reply was vicious.
Commenting on “the back of her” that Antoinette had just referred to, Grace reportedly purred, “It was the best part of you, darling. Believe you me”. It was a fatality of the first degree, but Antoinette still might not have realized the full, brutal picture.
34. The Palace Completely Cut Her Off
Not only did Antoinette now have to find a new place to live, Grace Kelly had made sure that her humiliation would be extremely public and far-reaching. She banned Antoinette and her entire family, children included, from speaking to anyone else in the royal family, from her husband Rainier all the way down to her then-youngest child Albert. It was complete mortification, and it drove Antoinette off the deep end.
35. She Ran Away From Home
In the wake of her banishment from the royal palace, Antoinette decided to high-tail it right out of Monaco…though she didn’t exactly go too far. She took up residence at Éze in south-east France, just a stone’s throw away from her brother’s realm. That way, if he ever needed her again, she could come rushing back to save him. And it was here she entered an…interesting phase of her life.
36. She Took Up A Strange Habit
While Princess Antoinette lived in Éze, her servants and attendants started to become alarmed at one of her new hobbies. She began surrounding herself with all kinds of animals, and this was no idle hobby. She had packs of dogs, among them boxers, collies, German shepherds, and basset hounds, but she didn’t stop there.
Antoinette also kept cats, plus maintained a menagerie of bird visitors. It might sound idyllic, but it turned into something of a nightmare.
37. She Was “Completely Mad”
As the 1950s rolled into the 1960s, Antoinette’s animal addiction only got worse. Soon, her aides were whispering that she’d gone “completely mad,” as if no longer being able to meddle in her brother’s affairs had pushed her over the edge. In fact, she had so many pets that visitors often complained they couldn’t even get within a close radius of the princess.
It wasn’t the best milieu to make good decisions, and Antoinette’s next ones were certainly suspect.
38. She Tried Matrimony Again
In 1961, Antoinette married her long-time lover Jean-Charles Rey—and while they married in the Parlement de Monaco, they didn’t do so in the principality proper. Instead, the black sheep couple had to settle for nuptials in The Hague, Amsterdam, which still wasn’t shabby, really. What was shabby was the marriage itself—but we’ll get to that. At first, it actually seemed to bring Antoinette a huge amount of good luck.
39. Her Family Came Crawling Back
Just a few years after Princess Grace banished Princess Antoinette, the chilly former actress had to swallow her pride and extend the olive branch. See, the Monegasque royal family had a problem on their hands—a bout of bad public image.
They knew that the people needed to see the clan present a united front. Humbling themselves for the greater good, Grace and Rainier invited Antoinette and her husband back to the palace.
It worked—for a while. And then Antoinette started causing trouble again.
40. She Wasn’t A Good Mother
Perhaps thanks to her endless dramas, Antoinette had a strange and often strained relationship with her son Christian—yes, the one who she tried to prop up as a puppet heir for Rainier all those years ago. Christian once admitted that it was Princess Grace, not his mother, who “was the only member of our bizarre family who had both compassion and consideration,” implying that his mother most certainly did not. Well, it was Christian at the center of the next family drama.
41. Her Son Was Naughty
Around the time that Antoinette came back to the palace, Princess Grace made a scandalous discovery. Her nephew Christian, Antoinette’s son, was having an affair with a married woman. Shocked and concerned, Grace went to Antoinette first to tell her the news and get her to possibly put a stop to the situation. It didn’t go the way Grace wanted.
42. She Got In A Cat Fight
Any time Grace said “black,” Antoinette wanted to say “white,” and the elder princess was excessively flippant about the situation. Antoinette not only shrugged and said, “Oh well, these things happen,” she was positively approving of her son’s affair.
Tensions ratcheted up once more between the women, until they weren’t speaking. Then Antoinette had to go and throw more tinder on the fire.
43. She Had A Bad Relationship With Her Son
Whether she approved of his extra-marital affairs or not, nothing could save Antoinette’s own icy relationship with her son Christian, and soon they too were all but estranged. For two long years they stayed out of each other’s lives—until the day that Christian came to the family and announced his intention to marry. Well, Antoinette knew just how to burst his bubble.
44. She Turned Everyone Against Her Son
Surprise, surprise, Antoinette was firmly against her son’s marriage, mostly because she didn’t think his choice of bride was good enough for him. Not that she ever thought other women were good enough for any of the men in her family. She took her dislike to terrifying levels.
First, she phoned up her brother Prince Rainier and insisted he order the royal family not to attend the ceremony in solidarity with her. He agreed, but she had more up her sleeve.
45. She Tried To Stop Her Son’s Wedding
As usual, it simply wasn’t enough for people to feel Antoinette’s disapproval; they also had to feel pain, too. So she invoked a nearly century-old law that stated the immediate family of the Prince of Monaco couldn’t marry without his permission, or else they would leave themselves vulnerable to banishment. This set off a ruinous chain reaction.
46. She Won The Battle
Desperate to marry the woman, Christian ended up turning to his mother’s worst enemy for help. He pleaded with Princess Grace to help convince Rainier that he could marry who he wanted. After all, hadn’t his mother destroyed enough relationships to last one lifetime?
Unfortunately, as we know all too well, Antoinette nearly always won, and this time was no different. Rainier ultimately sided with his sister. Even so, she did get a kind of comeuppance.
47. A Curse Came For Her
A medieval legend has it that the Grimaldis—AKA the whole royal line in Monaco—are cursed in love, and that they will never find happy marriage. Now, myth or not, it certainly appeared to be true for Princess Antoinette. By the 1970s, her marriage with Jean-Charles Rey was falling apart, and the couple divorced in 1974. Only, she had one more doomed romance in her back pocket.
48. She Fell In Love Again
In the 1980s, Antoinette met British ballet dancer and actor John Brian Gilpin and fell head over heels in love. They married on July 28, 1983, though the day was not necessarily a happy one. Just a year earlier, Princess Grace had perished in a tragic car accident, making Antoinette now one of the only senior royals in Monaco. And she was about to experience her own earth-shattering tragedy.
49. She Lost Her Love In A Brutal Way
Even on her third marriage, the Grimaldi curse still seemed to be flowing through Princess Antoinette’s veins. Just six weeks into her marriage to John Gilpin, the dancer suffered a massive heart attack and passed suddenly, leaving Antoinette a widow and in the same position as her brother Prince Rainier. And still, fate had a couple more ironies in store for her.
50. She Had One Final Bit Of Karma
Princess Antoinette ended up living until the ripe old age of 90, only passing in 2011. Ironically enough, she spent her last days in Princess Grace Hospital Center in Monaco, living under her old rival’s banner for her final breaths. And this wasn’t the only irony: Before she died, she also lived to see the dreams of her younger days crumble.
51. Time Defeated Her Schemes
When Princess Antoinette’s nephew Prince Albert II took the throne in 2005, all the games she played as a young, scheming princess were up. That’s because according to Monegasque law, only the ruler’s immediate children and children of their siblings are eligible for the throne, which meant that Antoinette was officially out of the line of succession at last.