‘France did not really like to see that independent enclave on the Cote d’Azur. General de Gaulle had been angry to see so much French business taking advantage of Monaco’s tax-free status and he had threatened to cut off Monaco’s water, electricity, gas, postal services and transport. There was a clause in a Franco-Monegascan treaty which provided for the French absorption of the principality if Prince Rainier III did not beget an heir. He married Grace Kelly and secured the Grimaldi line.’ (Anthony Burgess, You’ve Had Your Time, 1990)
Widely derided by critics ahead of its UK release on June 6 for its historical inaccuracy and laughable plot, Olivier Dahan’s film Grace of Monaco stars Nicole Kidman as the screen icon turned princess bravely resisting Charles de Gaulle’s 1962 attempt to force Monaco to pay French taxes. Anthony Burgess’s views on the evils of taxation are well known, and contributed to his decision to leave England in 1968. Eventually moving to Monaco in 1975, Burgess met Grace Kelly a number of times and seems to have sincerely admired her: ‘The beauty could be observed at close hand, the dignity was genuine, the kindness was no act … There was a rapport, there was an occasional palace lunch, followed by a walk through Monacoville, during which the cloaked bare-headed Grace would greet and kiss the older inhabitants. Her charm was a constant property. Her death was a great loss.’ Ted Jones in The French Riviera: A Literary Guide for Travellers (2007) states that the last book Grace Kelly read before her death in 1982 was Earthly Powers.
Burgess remembered Grace Kelly in his music, composing a lament for strings called In memoriam Princess Grace. He was also involved in the establishing of the Princess Grace Irish Library, which houses Grace Kelly’s collection of books and music relating to Irish culture, speaking regularly on James Joyce and Yeats. In a 1984 article Burgess writes approvingly of ‘an Irish enclave which ought to be a focus not only for scholars but for those who see in the history of Ireland a rich European heritage and in the Irish literature of the last hundred years one of the finest flowerings of European imagination. It is good to remember Princess Grace not merely as the film star Grace Kelly but as a woman of culture who rediscovered her origins.’ (‘By Grace of Grace’, Irish Times, 20 November 1984).