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Princess Stéphanie Marie Elizabeth Grimaldi of Monaco

Born on February 1, 1965, Stéphanie is the younger of the two princesses of Monaco who became the paparazzi's darlings several years before a certain ingenuous Sloane nanny had ever been heard of. Even more than her sister Princess Caroline, Stéphanie has consistently displayed a seriously questionable taste in men and a talent for royal hellraising that makes the House of Windsor look like candidates for True Love Waits.

By the age of 15, Stéphanie had already caused her mother, the actress turned princess Grace Kelly, unseemly headaches by running away from the exclusive Institut St. Dominique in Paris for a weekend with the Spanish singer Miguel Bosé. Perhaps Caroline's well-publicised liaison with the French singer Philippe Lavelle had been something of an inspiration.

Stéphanie herself had failed to attend the grand gala being held on the eve of Caroline's wedding to Philippe Junot in 1978 after throwing a tantrum and promising only to show up if she were allowed to wear blue jeans. The thirteen-year-old was in better company than she might have expected: none of the British, Dutch, Danish or Swedish royals made the journey either, although probably for reasons unconnected with the dress code.

Of more concern to Grace was Stéphanie's relationship with the actor Jean-Paul Belmondo's son Paul, which led her to skip the annual family cruise to Norway in favour of a trip to Antigua with her boyfriend. Mother and daughter engaged in several heated arguments after Stéphanie announced she wanted to enrol with him as a trainee racing driver, until Grace decided to take her in person to Paris' Institute of Fashion Design.

Driving back to Monaco on September 13, 1982 from the Grimaldis' villa over the French border in Roc Agel, Grace and Stéphanie's car shot off a hairpin bend in circumstances which have never been satisfactorily explained, although the relationship between the two at the time strongly suggests the conversation might just have touched on Belmondo fils.

Rumours have circulated ever since that Stéphanie was at the wheel during the accident, in which Princess Grace was killed; after two decades of silence, she finally refuted the allegations in 2002, although still refused to be drawn on circumstances inside the car.

Now taking over from Caroline as the Monégasque wild child, Stéphanie began to work for the fashion house of Christian Dior, until getting herself sacked by missing appointment after appointment and dyeing her hair red and green. They've surely sent far worse down the catwalk before now, and Stéphanie may have thought so too: after her father Prince Rainier cut off her allowance at the end of 1984, she took up modelling in her own right.

During her Paris years she had scandalised her family by taking up with Anthony Delon, who satisfied both of Stéphanie's apparent criteria for the perfect man: the son of an actor (Alain Delon), he ran with a dangerous crowd, having been convicted of car theft and carrying an unlicensed pistol. In October 1984, Stéphanie claimed a couple had tried to kidnap her at gunpoint in the car park underneath her Paris apartment, leading to speculation that Delon's friends might have mixed her up in some or other dodgy deal.

Prince Rainier and Caroline, easing herself into the position of replacement matriarch, eventually snapped and forced Stéphanie on to the family cruise, taking the opportunity for a drugs bust at Stéphanie's favoured nightspot back home, Jimmy'z. During the holiday, Caroline had to have Stéphanie dragged away from a cocaine-fuelled nightclub in Sardinia.

When Rainier threatened to take away her passport unless she gave up modelling, Stéphanie went into swimsuit design with an old friend from Dior and began an embryonic singing career with the release of Irresistible in 1986. The single topped the charts in France, where readers of Paris-Match routinely lap up Grimaldi gossip to this day.

Prince later attempted to resurrect her career, after performing the seemingly impossible with Sheena Easton. Highlights, if that's the right word, of Stéphanie's musical interlude included a duet with Michael Jackson entitled In The Closet. They said it, not me.

After a brief flirtation with Rob Lowe, Stéphanie turned her attentions to the nightclub owner Mario Oliver, a convicted sex offender. To Rainier's horror, they went as far as buying a house together in St. Tropez, before Oliver asked her to choose him or her music and she moved in with her producer Rob Bloom.

In 1992 Stéphanie announced her pregnancy by Daniel Ducruet, her former bodyguard: the couple went public in Hello! magazine and showed off matching tattoos, prompting Rainier to change his will so that the spouses of his children could never inherit his wealth.

Stéphanie and Ducruet finally married in 1995, only to divorce the next year when compromising photographs emerged of the bodyguard with Fifi Houteman, a former Miss Bare Breasts of Belgium. Confronted by Fifi on a German talk show in 1999, Ducruet lost his temper and attacked the set.

Her relationships since have included the goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, Jean-Claude Van Damme, another bodyguard Raymond Gottlieb and the Tunisian Eskander Laribi. Laribi, a suspected cocaine dealer, was shot dead near Nice in 2000; if not for diplomatic immunity, Stéphanie was likely to have faced questioning as a potential witness. Another revision of Rainier's will quickly ensued.

Her latest beau is Franco Knie, a Swiss elephant trainer whom she met at the International Circus Festival, one of many such annual Monte Carlo shindigs. Knie left his wife for the princess, although they split in early 2002 when the attractions of mucking out Jumbo understandably paled.
Want more dirt-dishing? John Glatt, The Royal House of Monaco, is always a good bet.

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