Two weeks of court mourning have been announced in Monaco following the death of Princess Antoinette, the Sovereign Prince’s aunt, at the Princess Grace Clinic in Monaco last night. Princess Antoinette turned 90 on 28 December last year.
She was the eldest of the two children of Princess Charlotte and Prince Pierre and was born while her great-grandfather Albert I was still on the throne of Monaco. Her younger brother, the future Sovereign Prince Rainier III, was born in 1923. Their grandfather, Sovereign Prince Louis II, took care of their upbringing after their parents separated in 1930 and because of Princess Charlotte’s 1944 renouncal of her succession rights, Rainier succeeded his grandfather on the throne in 1949, with Antoinette becoming the principality’s first lady, a position she was reluctant to cede to her sister-in-law Grace in 1956.
Relations between Princess Antoinette and her brother were not always the easiest. She had spread rumours about his previous girlfriend being infertile and taken part in plots which aimed at making Prince Rainier step aside for her benefit. Later her second husband would lead her on, arguing that there was no reason why she as the eldest child should have been surpassed by her younger brother. She did however have to content herself with being granted the title Baroness of Massy.
Princess Antoinette herself had three children - Elisabeth-Anne in 1947, Christian in 1949 and Christine in 1951 - by a married man, Alexandre Noghès. Following the birth of their third child the Princess and Noghès eventually married, but it ended in divorce after three years. In 1961 the Princess remarried Jean-Charles Rey, a lawyer who was also President of the Monegasque Council of State. That marriage was dissolved in 1974 and in 1983 the Princess took as her third husband the former ballet dancer John Gilpin, who sadly died only six weeks later.
Relations between Princess Antoinette and her brother easened with the passing of the years and she became a permanent fixture at the great events of the small principality, such as the National Day on 19 November and the Red Cross and Rose balls. In recent years her public appearances have however been few.
Princess Antoinette’s youngest daughter, Christine de Massy, died from leukemia in 1989 and the Princess is survived by her two eldest children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The Princess’s body will be taken to the Princely Palace, where she will lie in state for several days. Her funeral will take place at 10 a.m. on 24 March in the Cathedral of Monaco.