Robert Redford rubbed shoulders with Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco on Saturday night when he was feted at the glamorous Princess Grace Gala Awards in Monte Carlo – but the iconic film star admitted he hasn't always been welcomed so warmly by the Monaco royal family.
The actor and Sundance Film Festival founder, who recounted the tale as he accepted the 2015 Prince Rainier III Award, recalled his attempts to meet Prince Albert's late mother, Princess Grace of Monaco, back in 1956 when he was traveling around Europe as an art student.
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Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco with Robert Redford and wife Sibylle Photo: Getty Images
"I never met her. I tried once but I failed," explained Robert, 79, who attended with his artist wife Sibylle Szaggars Redford. "I'm hitchhiking from Paris to Florence, Italy… I have no money. I got to Cannes and then I decided I was going to Monaco and I was going to meet Princess Grace."
The star said he arrived at the palace, and asked a man to take pictures of him as she approached the entrance. "I walk up to the front door, I look back, and the guards at the front door said, 'Get out of here.' I turn around and come back... That was my attempt to meet Princess Grace."
He added: "I think she was a wonderful actor. She had a great sense of humor, she had wonderful wit, she was obviously attractive. But she was also very, very smart."
Robert Redford with Princess Charlene Photo: Getty Images
The Princess Grace Gala Awards reward emerging talent in theater, dance and film through scholarships, apprenticeships and fellowships. The ceremony, held in honor of the princess' theatrical and royal legacy, distributes over $900,000 to artists to help them pursue their goals.
Robert was presented with the award, which recognizes a leader in the arts whose accomplishments also include service to the community. His wife, an abstract painter whose work has been exhibited internationally, was named a recipient too.
Hosts Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, who dazzled in a dress by the event sponsor Christian Dior Couture, were on hand to present the couple with their accolade.
Robert and his wife were presented with their award by the royal couple
Photo: Getty Images