Who Is Father Francis Tucker In 'Grace of Monaco'? This Priest Played An Interesting Role In History
The Grace Kelly biopic starring Nicole Kidman is finally airing on Lifetime. It's a fascinating period of history that the television movie will allow us to delve into. There are so many interesting characters that we haven't thought about, for example, who is Father Francis Tucker in Grace of Monaco? Was he a real person, or a fictional character added to enhance Grace Kelly's tale? In the biopic, Father Francis Tucker is played by Frank Langella. He joins an impressive cast that includes Paz Vega, Milo Ventimiglia, Parker Posey, and Geraldine Somerville (aka Lily in the Harry Potter movies), as well as Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth.
It turns out, Father Francis Tucker was a real historical figure in Monaco, and an important one at that. He was an Irish-American priest from Delaware with a whole lot of power in Europe. In the film, he is also Grace Kelly's confidante. How much of this is true? According to The Daily Mail, the eldest son of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III, Prince Albert II, disagreed with the portrayal in the film. However, while Grace of Monaco may have taken some liberties, Father Francis Tucker's role was apparent.
Tucker was the Prince's personal chaplain and assigned by the Vatican as his personal advisor. An American was appointed because both France and Italy were interested in the position and the Vatican did not want to chose between those two nations. So Father Francis Tucker moved to Monaco.
According to a People article from 1996, Father Francis Tucker was an "American priest who was Rainier's closest aide and chief talent scout for eligible Catholic girls" who encouraged the correspondence between the prince and the movie star that resulted in their marriage. A Catholic priest was the royal matchmaker in Monaco? I guess relationships have been weird since way before dating apps came on the scene.
A 1956 article in The Milwalkee Journal confirms as much about Father Francis Tucker's role in the relationship and also paints a pretty cool picture of this guy. He rode a scooter, didn't dress "like a priest," and enjoyed discussing American popular culture. According to the report, Tucker was Ranier's self-assigned "director of conscience" and best bro and wing man, pretty much. Father Francis called Rainier "his boy," I kid you not. The two of them hung out all the time while fishing, sailing, and driving.
This doesn't necessarily add up with the serious figure Frank Langella portrays in the film, at least from what I've seen in the trailers. It also doesn't confirm whether Tucker had as close of a relationship with Kelly as he does in the movie. How much does the film get right? It would make sense that Princess Grace, alone in a foreign country and with a role she never imagined playing, would confide in another American who was in a similar position. It's difficult to tell just how much of this particular storyline is true, and what has been fictionalized, so as viewers we'll just have to decide for ourselves.
Images: Courtesy of Lifetime (2)