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With Friends Like These….

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Princess Grace of Monaco was a warm, loving, beautiful, yet complex woman. Her nearly 26 year marriage of convenience to Prince Rainier lll was even more of a conundrum than she was. While both were unfaithful throughout, Rainier generally restricted his extramarital dalliances to call girls under the employ of Madame Claude’s high priced establishment in Paris. Grace, however, had a penchant for passionate, but usually short lived, liaisons with men of whom she was often already acquainted. Through it all, she retained her sincere Catholic faith coupled with an equally sincere streak of religious guilt. No one could have appreciated this moral paradox more than her friend and bridesmaid Carolyn Reybold. Pictured here standing to the right of a seated Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at their wedding reception, Carolyn became notorious among international high society circles in 1960 when it became known that not only had her friend Grace committed adultery with Carolyn’s husband Malcolm, but the Princess had written her a letter confessing all and asking for her forgiveness.

Author Wendy Leigh outlines the whole story in True Grace: The Life and Times of an American Princess. The affair took place in New York in 1960, and was apparently brought on by Grace’s grief over the impending death of her father. Every author who has written a biography of Princess Grace has detailed the loving yet distant relationship she had with her father, Jack Kelly. Although he was publicly proud of her; declaring at the time of her marriage that from that point on he wanted to be known simply as Grace Kelly’s dad; and he provided her with a two million dollar dowry when she married her prince, she still never felt that he genuinely appreciated or accepted her. Malcolm Reybold, a Mad Menesqe advertising executive who was 20 years Grace’s senior, had met and befriended Grace back in the early 50’s before his wife had met her. In her hour of greatest need, Malcolm provided far more than just a shoulder to cry on.

Wendy Leigh goes on to write that many of their mutual friends theorized that Grace’s confessional letter, along with her eventual divorce and the death of one of her daughters, plunged Carolyn into a prolonged emotional illness that culminated in her losing everything and living in a homeless shelter at the time of Princess Grace’s death in 1982. Leigh interviewed her in 2005. By now living in a nursing home, Carolyn insisted that her ex-husband must’ve taken advantage of her friend, and that she had forgiven her long ago. In her magnanimity, Carolyn Reybold demonstrated as much, if not more, grace than her titled friend.

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Comments (7)

Wendy is a liar and has been libeling & slandering Grace like Grace killed her puppy for way too long, and I will prove her wrong. Can she prove anything she said was a fact? Nope. All rumors about Grace and alleged her pre or extra-marital affairs were “reported” by ex-boyfriends, mainly Don Richardson, who had unfortunately had passed away by the time I traced these disgusting stories to the source. Oleg Cassini was a bit better, but was as furious with her as Richardson was, and both men waited until she was dead to lie about her. That is just disgusting and so wrong.

When one author uses a “source” like a teacher at a school (can we just stop and talk about that for a second? Grace was a teenager when Richardson was a “professor” at AADA and he was a married man in his late 20s. He said she stripped and danced naked for him their “first time” together… does that fit with anything we know of Grace? NO!) – at any rate, Robert Lacey found this man and quoted him liberally throughout his disgusting book. Then other authors quoted him – once it’s in a book, I guess that makes it a fact!

PLEASE – this lady was a good person who did things for others and got just nothing back, didn’t expect anything back. And she is still being lied about. It is not fair and it is not right. Imagine for a second that she was your Mother, your sister…. your family or friend. It crushes me when I read this utter trash about her – she deserves better. Grace Patricia Kelly – Princess Grace of Monaco – deserves better. What happened to Carolyn Reybold, becoming homeless and unable to function as she once could, was tragic as well, but her mental illness was just that, an illness. Grace was a great friend who was not given friendship very often in return. Luckily she did have a husband who loved her very much… not a “marriage of convenience”! Neither Rainier nor Grace needed anything like that.

Wendy Leigh uses multiple and verifiable sources for her Grace book. Her main sources for the Reybold affair story were the Reybolds themselves, namely Carolyn and her only surviving daughter. In fact, the daughter threatened Ms. Leigh, as she makes clear in her chapter notes at the end of the book, because she was planning to write her own book concerning the affair and Wendy beat her to the punch. One can understand if a certain cognitive dissonance sets in when a person reads something unflattering about a personage they admire, but that is no excuse for the reader to discount the facts. The facts concerning Grace and Rainier’s marriage are virtually irrefutable and backed up with verifiable research at this point: they married before they got to really know each other; they entered into their union with ulterior motives; they cheated on each other throughout; and despite being unhappy and regretful of her choice, Grace was devoted to her husband, children, and her role as princess, and made the best of her situation. Since we’re on the subject of verifying sources, where have you read that either Don Richardson or Oleg Cassini had an axe to grind with Grace? I’ve read many biographies about her at this point in my life, and I haven’t come across one that indicated that Don Richardson or Oleg Cassini were bitter about her. It should also be added, though I suspect you already realize this, that they are FAR from being the only friends or former lovers of Grace to give interviews concerning her promiscuity prior to her marriage. Lastly, I, too, admire Princess Grace. In fact, I’m an active member of the Princess Grace Foundation. Still, I see no point in ignoring, or deliberately covering up, the complete story of her personal life. I find that the truth about her, including the unpleasant episodes, not only makes her more human, but more fascinating and ultimately more admirable! She was a passionate, complex woman whose strength and elegance gave her the ability to persevere through the complicated nature of her private life and present to the world an image of near perfection. She was admirable, but she wasn’t a saint, and I personally feel that it’s silly to ignore the proven facts concerning her personal life in order to treat her like one.

It is your Blog, you are certainly free to think, believe and write what you want. But a lie is a lie. I do not think that any human is a “saint”, in the way that Catholics believe. As a Christian, I believe that, as the Bible says, all who believe in Christ & trust His redeeming work on the cross are saints.
Grace was indeed a human with all the foibles that humanity involves. But she was not who Wendy Leigh loves to say she was. Ms Leigh, if you look at the list of books she has authored, is obsessed with the sex lives of people who have passed away. She wrote a book about sex in the 1970s and that has been her focus since. No judgment, I am just saying that that is what she is interested in. I would love to sit and talk with her some day, if she would make a trip to Oklahoma City, since i am disabled & cannot travel. She would be welcome and well treated in my home, as all people are.

I have the book, i have read it. It is disgusting and filled with lies next to truths and it literally made me ill. I cried and vomited. No book has ever caused such a reaction in me!
If you have this still alleged letter from Princess Grace to Carolyn Reybold, perhaps you can show it on your Blog. Believing something said by a woman who was as ill as Mrs Reybold just isn’t wise, since as you surely know, she was terribly mentally ill for decades. Also heartbreaking.

I cannot win an argument with you, and I know you will want the last word. So all I can write here is that Grace was my cousin. I love her, but not as a fan or any kind of hero-worship. She’s not on my list of heroes or teachers. I love truth. I’m a flawed human – i identify more with author Brennan Manning’s word, “Ragamuffin” than i do with the word i used earlier, “Christian”. But in my flawed and human state, it is so, so important to me to not ever lie about someone else’s character, and when i see others – if you’ll pardon the phrase – getting off on this? I have to speak up. I do not know your name, you have mine, and i hope that it doesn’t take a similar attack on your character or that of someone you care about in order for you to see the truth.

Grace + peace

Amy Lynn Hunt

Well, Amy, we are all entitled to our own opinions concerning someone’s character. There are truly not right or wrong answers when it comes to making such a personal assessment. Research, however, speaks for itself, and it’s important that one’s personal biases not get in the way of that. You seem EXTREMELY eager to dismiss Carolyn Reybold’s interview with Wendy Leigh to the point twisting certain facts concerning her mental health toward the end of her life. She definitely wasn’t mentally ill for decades, in fact, I’d be hard pressed to call her mentally ill at all, unless you consider all people who go to therapy sessions to be such. The only time that Ms. Reybold’s sanity could be questioned was during the brief period in the 80’s when she was homeless, and it certainly doesn’t take a mental health physician to figure out why an elderly woman who’d lost her daughter, her marriage, her house and all her possessions, and was living on the street might at least momentarily lose her grip on reality. By the time she gave her interview she was living in a nursing home and had clearly regained her sanity. While it’s true that a letter has yet to be produced, Carolyn stated in her interview that Grace wouldn’t have written her a letter, and instead indicates that her friend told her face to face. You appear to have quite a bias concerning anything unpleasant about Princess Grace, but that still doesn’t entitle to dismiss Wendy Leigh’s research or mischaracterize Carolyn Reybold as some sort of raging, homeless lunatic. She was none of those things, and a careful reading of Wendy Leigh’s book makes that clear.

P.S.- It is extremely disingenuous of you as a “Christian” “Ragamuffin” who so treasures the concept of honesty to accuse Carolyn Reybold and her only surviving daughter of being liars when you don’t appear to be able to produce evidence that they were lying. I’m not going to question whether or not you’re actually related to Princess Grace, but it certainly doesn’t appear that you can prove to me that Prince Rainier and Princess Grace actually had the monogamous marriage they presented to the world anymore than I can prove to you that they didn’t. I, too, believe whole heartedly in presenting the truth as best I can decipher it, which is one of the reasons why I started writing this blog in the first place. The simple fact that you had such a visceral reaction to Wendy Leigh’s book indicates to me that your personal investment in the legacy of Princess Grace is such that you cannot be objective about her. Perhaps it’s best if you swear off reading Princess Grace biographies from now on. With that, I concede to you the final word on this issue. Please respond if you feel it necessary. I will not respond back. Take care!

IS WENDY LEIGH SOME SORT OF A HACK VIPER?

THIS WOMAN APPEARS TO RE-SHUFFLE HER WORDS FROM THERE ORIGINAL SOURCE OR CONTEXT. SHE ALSO SHORTENS QUOTES, EG: THE EPISODE OF MEETING PRINCESS DIANA IN THE LONDON POWDER ROOM, WHERE GRACE DID COMFORT HER IN HER ARMS, BEFORE SHE UTTERED THE CONCLUDING SENTENCE, QUOTE- …”DON’T WORRY, IT WILL GET A LOT WORSE.”
IT SEEMS THE AGE OF PERSONAL COMPUTERS HAS PRODUCED AN ONSLAUGHT OF BIOGRAPHERS, WHO, FOR RESEARCH, MOSTLY EXTRACT FROM WHAT’S ALREADY PUBLISHED PLUS OTHER AVAILABLE THIRD-RATE HEARSAY, THEN RE-HASH IT A LITTLE AND TRY TO PASS IT AS GOSPEL.
HER SERENE HIGHNESS, PRINCESS GRACE, WAS AN EXCEPTIONAL MODERN AND INNOVATIVE WOMAN. SHE ACCOMPLISHED A LOT IN HER SHORT LIFE, AND WAS ALWAYS A LADY, A GENEROUS, CARING AND KIND HUMAN BEING, BUT, POSTHUMOUSLY, SHE SEEMS TO HAVE BECOME AN UNSUNG HERO OVERSHADOWED BY LARGELY INCREDIBLE AND THIRD-HAND GOSSIP – THE ‘KITTY KELLEY SCHOOL’ IS ALIVE AND DOING VERY WELL, INDEED.

You’re entitled to your opinion, but I couldn’t disagree more. Repeating the work of others in one’s own work, with proper attribution, has always been a normal phenomenon in biography, and journalistic/academic work in general. It predates the computer age! Wendy Leigh thoroughly attributes her sources, and when it came to the source concerning the subject of this post, she personally interviewed Carilyn Reybold, in which she verified the affair Princess Grace had with her husband, Malcolm! This isn’t an example of what you would characterize as getting one’s information from a third hand source!!!!! Princess Grace was certainly a beautiful and generous woman, but she was also a fallible human being with a flawed personal life! Exposing the full, unvarnished truth about her doesn’t compromise her legacy; it rather enhances it! It demonstrates the strength of character she possessed to struggle with her private weaknesses while still rising to the challenge of being the world’s most famous and admired princess, until Diana, and being a devoted, though unfaithful, wife, and certainly a devoted and loving mother. She was admirable, but not perfect! That is the point of Leigh’s thoroughly researched biography, and accusing Leigh of being a hack for that reason is simply fatuous.

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