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.