THE childhood holidays on a Scottish island of a man who became Europe’s most glamorous monarch have been revealed.
Prince Rainier of Monaco, who married screen icon Grace Kelly, spent his summers as a child on the Isle of Arran.
He and his sister Princess Antoinette went on holidays to Brodick Castle with their Scots cousin Lady Jean Fforde, whose family were direct descendents of the powerful Dukes of Hamilton who owned the island.
Lady Jean, 92, has revealed how she and the prince and princess of Monaco regularly risked their lives by climbing on to the castle battlements and playing on the roof three storeys up.
On one occasion, the princess almost fell to her death, she said.
“We came every summer for three months. It was great fun, and we’d play tennis and ride,” said Lady Jean, in a documentary to be screened next week.
“Prince Rainier and Princess Antoinette, known as Tiny, loved it. They came every year as children – it was so different to what they were accustomed to.
“We had a boat and went out netting fish and lobster potting. We had to bathe in the sea, then we’d be given hot milk and digestives, and a rub down, which hurt.”
Lady Jean revealed that the young royals could also be mischievous.
She said: “Tiny was a month younger than me and she was my closest friend.
“Our nannies also got on very well and while they carried on with all the gossip of Europe, we three children would go up the tower above the front door, climb up the fire escape and go out over the parapet on to the roof.
“We’d play house or climb up another fire escape and drop pebbles down the chimneys.
“We’d climb 100 yards along the battlements. When I look back I can see how dangerous it was and how we risked our lives.
“Once, when we were about eight, Tiny nearly went over the edge. She turned the wrong way, I caught her legs – three storeys up.”
She described the young prince as “like a piece of quicksilver”.
Lady Jean recalled how the mischievous young royal once tricked her into reducing a governess to tears.
“When we were a little older, I was given a French governess in the holidays to help me learn French.
“I remember Rainier, Tiny and I went on to our bit of roof and Rainier would tell me, ‘say this’. It was terribly romantic in French but they were swear words. The poor governess was shocked and in tears. She couldn’t get us to come down. I didn’t know what I was saying.
“When my mother came up nobody would argue with her.”
By the early 1900s, Arran had become the place for the in-crowd. Wealthy families would rent houses for the whole summer.
The young Monaco royals travelled to Scotland in the 1920s and 1930s by train and made the trip over to Arran on the famous Waverley paddle steamer.
Lady Jean said: “Rainier and Antoinette were prince and princess but to me they were friends. We had very happy times here.
“Antoinette, who was my closest friend until she died last year, would always say it was ‘so lovely’.”
Lady Jean still lives at Brodick, although the castle is now owned by the National Trust.
Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, ruled the principality for almost 56 years, making him one of the longest-ruling monarchs of the 20th century. Prince Rainier married Kelly in 1956. He died in 2005, 23 years after his bride, who died in a car crash in 1982.
Lady Jean added: “I was very fond of Grace – she really was a dear. I visited them several times.
“She was the most adorable person. Film star nothing, princess nothing, as a person to me she was very nice. Really nice.
“But she never came to Arran. The nearest she got was picking up a cruise ship at Gourock.”
In July 2010, Prince Albert of Monaco and his South African fiancée Charlene Wittstock were among party guests who travelled to Brodick Castle to celebrate Lady Jean’s 90th birthday.
• Grand Tours of Scotland is on BBC One Scotland next Friday at 8:30pm.
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