Lifestyle

Thursday 21 August 2014

Stephanie of Monaco

Long before Princess Diana, Stephanie of Monaco was adored by tabloid journalists and paparazzi for her seemingly infallible errors of judgment. Even before the death of her mother, Princess Grace, Stephanie was a wild child. She ran away from her exclusive boarding school aged just 15 for a weekend with singer Miguel Bose, then threw a massive tantrum and refused to attend Caroline's pre-wedding gala unless she was allowed to wear jeans.

And then came the fatal crash, in which Princess Grace was killed. Rumours circulated for years that Stephanie was driving the car, or at the very least that the pair were engaged in a furious row about Stephanie's then-boyfriend, Paul Belmondo.

Whatever the truth – and although Stephanie did formally refute the rumours about 10 years ago, she has never described exactly what did happen in the car that day – her confrontational trajectory continued after her mother's death.

Within a couple of years she had been sacked by Christian Dior, had been apparently held up at gunpoint in the car park underneath her Paris apartment, and had taken up with the son of actor Alain Delon, a convicted car thief who ran with a rough crowd. Her father, Prince Rainier, and older sister Caroline, now in loco maternis, consistently reacted with authoritarian displeasure, attempting to control Stephanie's behaviour by restricting her finances.

First Rainier cut off her allowance in 1984, then threatened to take away her passport if she didn't give up modelling. She responded by launching a career in Euro-pop with a couple of catchy songs, and duetted with Michael Jackson.

At every turn, Rainier seems to have taken the heavy-handed rather than the understanding approach. When Stephanie got pregnant by her bodyguard Daniel Ducrue, Rainier changed his will to ensure the spouses of his children could never inherit his wealth. The couple got married in 1995 and divorced a year later.

Stephanie then dated Fabien Barthez and Jean-Claude Van Damme, as well as a suspected cocaine dealer, Eskander Laribi, who was shot dead near Nice in 2000. Stephanie escaped being questioned about him, thanks to her diplomatic immunity. In 2003, she married Adans Lopez Peres, a Portuguese circus acrobat, and divorced him a year later. Prince Rainier's repressive dignity and Caroline's dutiful righteousness may have been good for the principality of Monaco, but perhaps less so for Stephanie's sense of self-esteem.

Irish Independent

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