The times we lived in
AMAZING GRACE Published on June 12th, 1961
OKAY, IT’S GREAT living in a republic and everything. But sometimes, don’t you wish we had a couple of those oh-so-posey formal/royal portraits stashed away in our civic cupboard? Turns out we do. If there was such a thing as Irish royalty, it would surely have to include Dev and Grace Kelly – and here’s the photographic proof.
The first official State visit by royalty to Ireland since the days of Edward VIII nearly got rained off in June 1961 when the plane carrying Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco was delayed by low cloud and drizzle. The remainder of the visit, however, was a glittering success.
Not too surprising, perhaps, considering the princess’s pedigree; a Lovely Girl of Irish descent, from an observant Catholic family, who – having made it big in such Hollywood movies as High Noon, Rear Window and Dial M for Murder – proceeded to make off into the sunset with one of Europe’s richest men.
In fairness to their Serene Highnesses, they appeared to be game for pretty much anything on their Irish visit: the opening concert of the Dublin International Festival of Music and the Arts at Croke Park, a Red Cross Party at the Zoo.
The biggest gig, though, was an evening event at Áras an Uachtaráin.
Our front-page picture shows the President and Sinéad Bean De Valera with the prince and princess as they prepared to get stuck into the serious business of exchanging orders and medals and such-like. All are in full stiff-upper-lip mode, but Princess Grace steals the show. Her dress apparently artless, her posture pitch-perfect, she brings a touch of vividness to what must have been a pretty starchy diplomatic function.
Sadly, we have no further details of that beautiful ballgown. By contrast, this paper’s coverage of the Croke Park concert tells us that the movie-star-turned-princess arrived at the Hogan Stand wearing a theatre coat of bright violet wool, and that shortly after she took her seat she wrapped a scarf of “pale tulip-leaf green” loosely around her face.
Predictably, this fine gossamer garment wasn’t sufficient to keep the Irish evening breezes at bay – so the ever-practical Grace produced a grey mink stole and wrapped up, movie-star style.
It was a touch of class which must, for a few magical seconds, have made of Croke Park the perfect setting for a presence more regal, in truth, than royal.