In a rare interview, Princess Stéphanie of Monaco has spoken of the difficulty of losing her mother, Princess Grace of Monaco, when she was just 17, and how her adopted elephants helped her.
Speaking to Point de Vue, a French magazine, Stéphanie said: “After I got over my anger, got past the sense of injustice that was inside me, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I said, ‘Wait! Logically, you should have died too,'”
“‘If I was kept alive it was for a reason. You have a place in this world. You have to find it.'”
The Princess used her elephant companions to help her through
Grace Kelly died in a car crash in 1982, driving from France to Monaco. Due to a break failure, the car drove off asteep, winding road and down a 120 ft mountainside. Stéphanie, who was in the passenger seat, tried to regain control of the car, but was unsuccessful. Princess Grace survived the accident, but is thought to have suffered a stroke, making her succeptible to more.
The following evening, Grace’s husband, Prince Rainier, decided to take her off life support.
The 50-year-old goes on to explain two Asian rescue elephants Baby and Nepal helped her through the tough time of losing her mother. “When I tell you that Baby and Nepal arrived at the right moment in my life, I firmly believe it.”
The two elephants were rescued by Stéphanie after they were condemned to be euthanized by a zoo in Lyon; it was thought the pair, now 42 and 45, were exposed to TB. Baby and Nepal now live at the Fontbonne Reserve, 15 minutes from Monaco.
“I stayed with them every day,” the Princess continued. “Watching, slowly began to recognize signs which showed that a true trust, mutual respect, was settling in between us. This requires a lot of patience.”
The mother-of-three began to expereince ’empty nest syndrome’ as her children grew up. As Louis, 22, Pauline, 21, and Camille, 17, spent less time at home and needed their mother less, Stéphanie began to rely more on the companionship of her elephant friends.
“Every mother in the world knows this feeling one day… of emptiness, a time comes where you feel a little less useful because you’re no longer running left and right. Life no longer has the same rhythm.”
Stéphanie, sister of Monaco’s ruling Prince Albert, feels different now. “I’m no longer the same. Everyone said this story was doomed to fail, and I’m terribly proud of having saved these elephants, but through it, I felt I was showing my children that we should not be afraid to fight, that the important thing is to always believe in what is fair.”
“There’s a peace here, a contagious serenity,” she said. “Since I’ve been spending my days here, everything seems easier to manage.”