There are some eerie similarities between Diana and Princess Grace: they were both glamorous young women who took the world by storm when they married a royal, the Prince of Wales and Prince Rainier III of Monaco respectively. Tragically, both women also died in car accidents – Grace in 1982 aged 52 and Diana in 1997 aged 36. The two women first met at a musical recital in 1981, a week after Diana’s engagement to Charles was announced.
Grace kindly took Diana aside for a chat and the Princess of Wales would later say she was always “sweet” to her.
When Grace died, it had been just 18 months since this meeting and less than a year since Charles and Diana’s Royal Wedding.
Grace had suffered a stroke while driving and failed to take a sharp corner on the serpentine D37 outside Monaco and drove off the steep, winding road and down the 37-metre mountainside.
Her daughter Stephanie survived the crash, but Grace suffered severe injuries and later died.
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Diana met Grace for the first time at a music recital in 1981
Her funeral was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate in Monaco-Ville on September 18, 1982.
When she heard the news, Diana told Charles she wanted to go to the funeral to represent the Queen and pay her respects, but he said he saw no reason why she should go.
In taped recordings of the princess, first released in 2017, for the documentary ‘Diana: Her True Story ‒ In Her Own Words’, Diana explained why she wanted to go.
She said she told Charles: “Well, I think it’s important, because she was an outsider who married into a big family, and I’ve done the same, so it would feel right.”
Princess Diana at Princess Grace’s funeral
She then described how she went to the Queen after getting nowhere with her husband, adamant that she should go.
Diana said in her tapes: “So I went to the Queen and I said: ‘You know, I’d like to do this,’ and she said: ‘I don’t see why not. If you want to do this, you can.’
“I went there, I did my bit, came back everyone was all over me like a bad rash: ‘Oh, you did so well!
“And I thought: ‘Well, interesting’.”
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Over 400 people attended the funeral, including other famous faces like Cary Grant, Nancy Reagan, Danielle Mitterrand, the Empress Farah of Iran.
Diana turned up in a demure, black dress and was reportedly the centre of attention there, and did not put a foot wrong.
At the reception afterwards, she spoke to Princess Caroline of Monaco about her mother, telling her: “We were physically connected.”
Little did she know at the time, that 15 years later she too would die in a car crash.
In her tapes, Diana also recalled that first meeting with Grace when she gave her a pep talk in the toilets.
It was March 3, 1981 and Diana was on her first outing as Charles’ fiancée at Goldsmiths’ Hall.
The 19-year-old was noticeably uncomfortable in a black dress she herself admitted was “two sizes too small”.
Noticing her discomfort, Grace took her to the toilets for a chat, where Diana opened up to her about her feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Grace patted her cheeks and gave her a stark warning: “Don’t worry dear, it’ll only get worse.”
Diana recalled in her tapes: “It was a horrendous occasion. I didn’t know whether to go out of the door first.
“I didn’t know whether your handbag should be in your left or right hand.
“I was terrified really – at the time everything was all over the place. I remember that evening so well. I was terrified – nearly sick.”