Rainier of Monaco: Who is Princess Ira of Fürstenberg, who dreamed of succeeding Grace Kelly?

Rainier III died on April 6, 2005, 17 years ago to the day. After the death of his wife Grace Kelly, tragically killed in a car accident in 1982, an Italian princess, Ira de Fürstenberg, would have liked to succeed the actress in the heart of the Monegasque sovereign.

Would another princess have almost succeeded Grace Kelly in the heart of Prince Rainier III? Until his death on April 6, 2005, the father of Prince Albert II of Monaco never lived again. However, Ira de Fürstenberg would not have said no. Now 81 years old, the Italian princess was 42 years old at the time of Grace Kelly’s death in 1982. Like her, the daughter of Prince Tassilo Fürstenberg played the comedy. “In 1985, Prince Rainier was alone. Our deep friendship brought us together, so much so that the press almost engaged us. I did not say no to him, he never proposed,” Ira de Fürstenberg told Point de Vue in an interview in December 2019. At the time, his life was the subject of a book by Nicholas Foulkes, simply entitled Ira, published by Harper Collins. It told the story of Her Serene Highness Virginia Carolina Theresa Pancrazia Galdina of Fürstenberg, known as Ira of Fürstenberg, born on April 18, 1940 in Rome.

“My father liked to hunt, but not to work, he told stories well and liked women. My mother was the opposite, Turinese, serious, a little shy. Their marriage did not last long. I was 9 years old when they separated and sent me to boarding school in England,” explained in the magazine the daughter of the heiress of the Fiat group Clara Agnelli. Long before she thought of consoling Prince Rainier, she married Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenbourg. “Alfonso and I met in Donaueschingen, the Fürstenberg stronghold. My father had taken me to the wedding of my cousin Netty, who was marrying a good friend of Alfonso’s. Alfonso was 30 years old and had been running the business for years. Alfonso was 30 years old and a head-turner. I was 15,” said Princess Ira of Fürstenberg in Point de Vue. Despite their age difference, she married him in Venice on September 17, 1955.

DOMINIQUE JACOVIDES / BESTIMAGEIra de Fürstenberg and Prince Rainier at the Monte Carlo Tennis Open in 2002.

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Married at 15, divorced at 20

“When he said ‘I’m going to marry this girl’, everyone thought it was crazy, but I said ‘yes’. My father was happy because I was going to have a beautiful wedding,” recalled the princess in 2019. From this union, two children were born, Christoph Victorio Egon Humberto in 1956 (died in 2006) and Hubertus in 1959. In 1960, the couple ended their marriage. Barely 20 years old, and already divorced. The following year, Princess Ira said “yes” to the Brazilian jet-setter Francisco Matarazzo Pignatari. The couple finally separated in 1964, leaving the field open for a possible affair with Prince Rainier. Before becoming a designer of rock crystal objects, Ira de Fürstenberg played many roles in her eight decades of life: mother, model, actress. The coveted role of wife of Prince Rainier has escaped her…

Photo credits: AGENCY / BESTIMAGE

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