Saturday, May 15, 2010

Grace Kelly on Motherhood

I was rather surprised to find that someone had been searching here for information on Princess Grace of Monaco. She is a bit off topic for this site, but our friend, the Mad Monarchist, has a blog entirely dedicated to the Grimaldis, with a wealth of information on Monegasque princes and princesses, past and present. I encourage those interested to visit.

While discussing Princess Grace, though, I wanted to post this article, published July 30, 1971 in Life magazine. Grace's remarks on motherhood highlight some aspects of her personality that are perhaps apt to be neglected in all the racy biographies and speculation on her private life. Her words ring even truer today than they did 39 years ago.
On a visit to Chicago last month, Princess Grace of Monaco, mother of three, came out firmly for motherhood- and against quite a few other things. Appearing at a convention of La Leche League, a women's group organized to encourage breast-feeding, she urged other mothers to take up the practice, to be "happy in their role and aware of its importance." She breast-fed each of her children for two months, starting with Caroline, born in 1957. "I couldn't think of having a baby without feeding her myself," she said.
The princess also advised breast-feeding as a means to help "combat the current wave of public indecency. Nothing is sacred anymore," she said, "anything goes. Watch some of the commercials on television or listen to some of the songs. Everything is being debased, made cheap. But in the family, if a mother nurses her baby, the other children can see the wholesomeness of sex, the naturalness of it. And that helps them prepare for what they'll see outside the home."
A Roman Catholic, she is firmly against abortion-"any kind, legal or illegal." She fended off questions on women's liberation, but had little good to say about some of the movement's goals-such as day-care centers. "It's a pity," she said, "There seems to be a great tendency to get rid of children, even among mothers who don't work."
The princess, who presumably does not have any baby-sitter problems of her own, is opposed to mothers sharing the child-rearing chores, even with fathers. "Why should they help?" she asks. "It's against nature. With animals you don't see the male caring for the offspring. It's a woman's prerogative and duty, and a privilege." This feminine uniqueness extends to the delivery room. In her own case, the princess asked Prince Rainier not to attend. "I didn't want him there," she said. "I had to concentrate on the business at hand."
On a side note, Princess Marie-Esmeralda of Belgium, daughter of King Leopold III and Princess Lilian, notes with gratitude in her memoirs that Grace kindly helped take care of Esmeralda and her sister during their father's severe bout with malaria. So, I suppose, there is a slight "Belgian" connection to Grace Kelly!


MadMonarchist said...

Thanks for the link. Princess Grace was a much more 'hands-on' parent than most realize. When staying at Marchais she would make sandwiches for the children and their friends, she fed them, she changed the diapers etc. Even Prince Rainier would often make breakfast for the little ones. On other social/moral issues some people make the mistake of thinking that because Princess Grace was friends with or friendly to people who did x, y or z that she approved of their behavior or supported whatever they did. That, of course, was not the case -she believed in being friendly and compassionate to everyone but it did not mean she lost the values she had been raised with.

May said...

I saw a beautiful documentary on Princess Grace in French, incorporating footage from the home films she made of her children as they were growing up.

Regarding modern social/moral issues, there are probably some who want to remake her in their own image.

Whatever trials and failings she might have had, I think she was a person of a remarkable depth of soul and breadth of vision, which seem to be underestimated in certain treatments of her life.

MadMonarchist said...

I certainly agree. There may also be some confusion because of the different styles of husband and wife. Prince Rainier would not associate with those he most disapproved of whereas Princess Grace was open and friendly to everyone even if she did not approve of their lifestyle.

May said...

That is interesting about Rainier. Some might be surprised at his being that strict, as he tends to have a bit of a "decadent" image.

Lucy said...

Oh what a great article! Every time I stop by here I remember how much I love this place and the reason why I follow your blog to begin with:) I know, I've been a bit lagging in my commenting- but I'm still your devoted fan! - I also visit Mad Monarchist at times- but will make a point to check his blog on the Grimaldis. Love them too.

(BTW- I want to see your drawings!)

May said...

Thank you for the kind words, Lucy! It is always lovely to hear from you.

I'll see about the drawing- I may want to redo it before posting it here.