Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, Countess of Polignac ( born 1 February 1965) is the youngest child of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco and American actress Grace Kelly, and the sister of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and Caroline, Princess of Hanover. Currently the sixth in the line of succession to the Monegasque throne, she has been a singer, swimwear designer and fashion model.
Stéphanie was born to Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and Grace, Princess of Monaco, on 1 February 1965. She is the youngest of their three children, after Princess Caroline and Albert II, Prince of Monaco. Stéphanie was named after her great-great-great-great-grandmother Stéphanie de Beauharnais. Her godparents are her maternal uncle John B. Kelly, Jr. and paternal cousin Elisabeth-Anne de Massy. Her mother Grace, who described Stéphanie as a "warm, bright, amusing, intelligent and capable girl" and a "good athlete", lovingly called her "wild child".
On 13 September 1982, while returning home from their farm in Rocagel, France, Stéphanie and her mother Grace had a car accident. Grace died the next day, on 14 September, while Stéphanie sustained a hairline fracture of a neck vertebra. Although the official version was that Grace suffered a stroke while driving, it was rumored that Stéphanie, who had to miss her mother's funeral due to her recovery, was actually driving. Stéphanie herself refused to talk about her mother's death until 2002, when she said, "Not only did I go through the horrible trauma of losing my mother at a very young age, but I was beside her at the moment of the accident. "Nobody can imagine how much I've suffered, and still suffer."
Stéphanie is fluent in French, Monegasque, English and Italian. She was educated at the Dames de Saint-Maur in Monaco, and then at the Dupanloup in Paris, France. Stéphanie received her baccalauréat degree in 1982. During her school years, she studied classic dance and piano, and also competed in gymnastics and horse riding.
In 1983, after her physical recovery from the accident which killed her mother, Stéphanie started an apprentice programme at Christian Dior under the direction of head designer Marc Bohan. The following year, she debuted as a model on the biannual haute couture special published by Spanish magazine ¡Hola!, a venture that she repeated in 1990. In 1985, Stéphanie covered German Vogue and the American edition of Vanity Fair. She also became the spokesperson of the Swiss beauty line La Prairie, for which she was photographed by Horst, and she appeared on the cover of French Vogue, photographed by the late Helmut Newton, in September 1986.
In 1986, Stéphanie launched a swimwear line Pool Position with Alix de la Comble, whom she had met during her internship at Dior. The fashion show to present the line, held at the Sporting Club in Monaco and attended by Prince Rainier III, Prince Albert and Princess Caroline, was a major event covered by the worldwide media. In 1989, Stéphanie launched her own self-titled perfume.
Stéphanie co-owns Replay cafes and stores in both Monaco and Barcelona. In December 2008, she guest-edited and covered the Vogue Paris.
In February 1986, Stéphanie self-produced and released her first single with the French label Carrere, under the production of Yves Roze. The song "Ouragan" and its English version "Irresistible" were both international hits, reportedly selling more than 2million copies. "Ouragan" is one of the best-selling singles in France of all time. The full album Besoin, released as Stéphanie in some countries, sold more than 1.5million units, with 100.000 in France only. The single "Flash", as well as its English version "One Love to Give", also achieved success throughout Europe. In January 1987, Stéphanie released the single "Young Ones Everywhere" to benefit UNICEF.
The same year, Stéphanie moved to Los Angeles to record a new album. However, it took her five years to release it. The album Stéphanie, released in 1991, met with disappointing sales and negative reviews, despite the promotional tour that included the performance in The Oprah Winfrey Show. Also in 1991, Stéphanie recorded "In the Closet" with Michael Jackson under the alias of "Mystery Girl" for his album Dangerous, and then ended her music career. She made a brief return to singing in 2006, when she recorded "L'Or de nos vies", a charity single, along with her foundation Fight AIDS.
Stéphanie is the president of several associations, including Monaco Youth Center and Princess Stéphanie Activity Center, and is an honorary board member of the Princess Grace Foundation – United States. She has also been the patron of the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo, which she regularly attends, and the World Association of Children's Friends (AMADE), which was founded in 1963 by her mother Grace, Princess of Monaco. Since 1985, Stéphanie has been the president of the Monte-Carlo Magic Grand Prix and the International Festival of Amateur Theatre.
In 2003, Stéphanie created her own Women Face the AIDS Association, which became Fight AIDS Monaco in 2004, in order to support people living with HIV and to combat the social stigma attached to the disease. Since 2006, Stéphanie has been a Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) ambassador. The same year, along with the group of singers, she released a charitable single "L'Or de nos vies". On 26 June 2010, Stéphanie inaugurated, in the presence of Prince Albert, the House of Life (French: Maison de Vie) in Carpentras, Vaucluse, France, which offers both psychological and material aid to persons living with either HIV and AIDS and their families. Stéphanie has organized numerous events, such as auction sales, concerts and galas, to support her foundation.
Stéphanie had dated Paul Belmondo, Anthony Delon, Rob Lowe and Jean-Yves Le Fur before she began a relationship with her bodyguard Daniel Ducruet in 1992.On 26 November, she gave birth to her first son Louis Robert Paul Ducruet. Stéphanie and Ducruet's second child, Pauline Grace Magui Ducruet, was born on 4 May 1994. The two married on 1 July 1995 in Monaco, thus including Louis and Pauline in the line of succession to the Monegasque throne. The couple was divorced on 4 October 1996.
Stéphanie gave birth to her third child, Camille Marie Kelly Gottlieb, on 15 July 1998 at the Princess Grace Hospital Centre in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Although she did not identify the father's name on the birth certificate, it has been rumoured Camille's father is Jean Raymond Gottlieb. As her parents never married, Camille is not included in the line of succession to the Monegasque throne.
In 2001, Stéphanie began a relationship with married elephant trainer Franco Knie and moved, along with her three children, into Knie's circus caravan. However, that relationship came to an end in 2002, and Stéphanie and her family returned to Monaco. On 10 September 2003, Stéphanie married Portuguese acrobat Adans Lopez Peres, a member of Knie's circus ensemble. The marriage ended in divorce in November 2004.
Stéphanie is the godmother to Andrea Casiraghi, the eldest son of her sister Princess Caroline.