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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Monaco princess denies crash rumours
Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco on their wedding day
Actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco
Princess Stephanie of Monaco has broken her silence over the car crash which killed her mother Princess Grace 20 years ago.

In an interview with the French magazine Paris Match, she said that despite persistent rumours to the contrary, it was her mother who was at the wheel of the car when the accident happened, not herself.


When I read in the newspapers that I killed my mother, it is simply horrible

Princess Stephanie
Princess Stephanie and her mother, the former Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly, were travelling together in the countryside near Monaco on 13 September 1982 when their car plunged down a steep slope.

Princess Grace died the next day, while 17-year-old Stephanie sustained multiple injuries.

Persistent rumours

Despite doctors' reports that Grace suffered a huge brain haemorrhage which caused her to momentarily lose control of the car, Stephanie has been plagued by rumours that she was in some way to blame for the crash.

Persistent allegations that she was the driver, or that the two were arguing heatedly over Stephanie's plans to marry her then-boyfriend, Paul Belmondo, son of French film star Jean-Paul Belmondo, have led her to speak out.

Princess Stephanie
Princess Stephanie, now 37, is still traumatised
"I was not driving, that's clear," she told the magazine, adding that she slammed the automatic gearbox into park from the passenger seat and pulled on the handbrake in a vain attempt to stop the car.

"Did my mother mix up the accelerator with the brake pedal? I don't know," she said. "But I wasn't driving".

Stephanie refused to say what she and her mother were talking about at the time of the accident, saying the conversation was strictly between the two of them.

'Let me live'

Princess Stephanie, whose turbulent private life has often provided column inches in gossip magazines, said she still suffered from emotional trauma caused by her mother's death.

She said she was speaking out about the accident now, 20 years later, because she "couldn't take it anymore".

"When I read in the newspapers that I killed my mother, it is simply horrible," she said. "Let my mother rest in peace - let me live."

She said she could not feel guilty as she had nothing to reproach herself for, "except that I am still here and have survived."

Grace Kelly, who won an Oscar in 1954 for her performance in The Country Girl, was one of Hollywood's most famous actresses in the 1940s and 1950s.

She gave up her career to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956.

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23 Jan 99 | Europe
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