How the Iconic Grace Kelly Died

grace kelly cause of death

Getty (FILES) -- A file photo taken on April 19, 1956 shows Prince Rainier III of Monaco and US actress and princess of Monaco Grace Kelly saluting the crowd as they leave Saint Nicholas' Cathedral after their wedding ceremony in Monaco. Monaco's royals on May 2, 2014 accused those behind a biopic starring Nicole Kidman as their mother Grace of hijacking their family history, just days before the film premieres at the Cannes Film Festival. In a statement, Prince Albert II and Princesses Caroline and Stephanie said the film did not accurately portray events involving their mother, the Hollywood actress who married Monaco's Prince Rainier III in 1956. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read -/AFP via Getty Images)

Grace Kelly died the day after her car careened over the edge of a mountain. Investigations showed she suffered a stroke that led her off the roadway, followed by a hemorrhage caused by the crash. But what really happened to the actress that became Princess Grace of Monaco?

Reelz is reopening the case nearly 40 years after her death in a returning episode, “Autopsy: The Last Hours of…” It airs at 9 p.m. Eastern time Sunday, June 27, 2021. Princess Stephanie, the daughter of Grace Kelly, was with her when she crashed, and gave an account of the accident, reported by the Chicago Tribune in 1989.

Reelz writes:

On September 13th, 1982, Princess Grace of Monaco – Grace Kelly – drove her old Rover 3500 car off the edge of a mountain road above the famous principality. She died in hospital the following day, aged just 52. The crash brought to an end a life lived almost entirely in the public eye; first as the iconic star of some of Hollywood’s best loved movies and then as the wife of Prince Rainier, ruler of the tiny Mediterranean enclave. In the wake of Grace Kelly’s death it proved hard to get at the truth of what had actually happened. A police investigations encountered obstacles and the Palace appeared to close ranks. It was said that Grace had suffered a stroke at the wheel and this married with her family history of high blood pressure, a thing little understood at the time. But what is the truth of Grace Kelly’s final hours? Conspiracy theories multiplied in the vacuum left by the Palace’s silence. World renowned forensic pathologist, Dr Michael Hunter analyses the details of this fascinating case to discover the answer.

Here’s what you need to know:


Princess Stephanie Said Her Mother Had a Headache That Day, & They Were Going to the Train Station Bound for Paris

Princess Stephanie recounted the horrifying crash that ultimately led to the death of her mother in an interview with author Jeffrey Robinson for his book, “Rainier and Grace: An Intimate Portrait.” The Chicago Tribune reported an excerpt of the book in 1989. Princess Stephanie told Robinson she and her mother were headed to the train station, where they were planning to board a train to Paris. Princess Stephanie, who was 17 at the time, was going to start school in Paris two days later. Kelly typically rode with a chauffeur, but insisted on driving herself that day because of luggage in the car, Princess Stephanie told the author.

Robinson wrote:

The road from the farm winds down the hill and into La Turbie. The road from there down to the Moyenne Corniche, which takes you into Monaco, is called the D37. Approximately 2 miles from La Turbie, there is an especially steep bend where you have to brake very hard and steer carefully to follow the road 150 degrees to the right.

Grace missed that turn.

The Rover slammed into the small retaining wall and went through it. The car somersaulted as it crashed 120 feet through branches of trees, careening off the slope, tossing Grace and Stephanie around inside.

Princess Stephanie said in interviews she remembers “every minute” of the crash, but did not talk about it for years. She told her sister, Caroline, that her mom was trying to stop the car and screamed that the brakes wouldn’t work. Stephanie said she frantically tried to pull on the hand brake.

“Stephanie says she`ll never know for sure if her mother mixed up the accelerator and the brake pedal or just didn`t have the use of her legs. But when the police investigated the accident and checked the road, there were no skid marks,” Robinson wrote.

Stephanie didn’t know her mother had died for two days after the crash, the author wrote, and she was not at the funeral because she was still in the hospital, being treated for a fractured vertebrae in her neck.


🔴 El triste final de una Reina . Grace de Monaco Princess . 1982🔴 El triste final de una Reina . Grace de Monaco Princess2017-02-07T05:14:51Z

The summer before Kelly died, her family recalled she had some medical problems. Doctors believe she was suffering from high blood pressure. The day of the crash, her daughters told Robinson she had a headache. Stephanie said in interviews her mom blacked out briefly before she crashed, Robinson wrote.


Princess Grace Died From a Second Brain Hemorrhage the Day After Her Car Fell More Than 100 Feet Over a Cliff

Both Kelly and her daughter, Princess Stephanie, survived the horrific crash when her 11-year-old metallic green Rover 3500 dropped more than 100 feet over a retaining wall at about 10 a.m. Monday, September 13, 1982, according to Beyond Grace Kelly. Typically, Kelly was driven by a chauffeur and although she was close to home when she crashed, she rarely drove on the windy, mountain road herself, the website said. The day of the crash, she told the chauffer she would drive because she had dresses and boxes in the backseat. Her daughter, Stephanie, was in the car also, and witnesses reported seeing Princess Stephanie in the backseat, the website said.

Both mother and daughter survived the crash, the website said. Princess Stephanie escaped through a window despite a broken vertebrae in her neck. Grace Kelly suffered a broken thigh bone, collar bone and rib injuries, along with severe head injuries. Beyond Grace Kelly reported that her head injuries resulted in a second hemorrhage, which caused her death.

Initial reports indicated that Kelly would survive her injuries, the website reported. That information, in part, led to conspiracy theories surrounding her death. Some rumors also indicated Princess Stephanie was the one driving, which was perpetuated in part due to the fact that she escaped the car through the driver’s side window. Beyond Grace Kelly reported Princess Stephanie could not escape through the passenger door because it was “impassable.”

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