By MARY BETH MURPHY
CHICAGO, ILL. The setting seemed incongruous. Among casually dressed mothers lining the hotel corridor — many with children in their arms or strapped to their backs — appeared her serene highness, Princess Grace of Monaco.
The Princess wore a simple black and white print cotton dress accessorized with pearl earrings and long strands of pearls, and her light blond hair was pulled back with a black velvet head band.
Her highness was interviewed Friday at a press conference at the LaSalle Hotel. She was the guest speaker Friday night at the convention of La Leche League International, an organization that advocates “good mothering through breast feeding”.
Princess Grace consented to speak on good mothering to the group since the convention was being held during her yearly visit to the United States. More significantly she agreed to speak “because of my great admiration for the league”.
She had joined the organization in 1965 after the birth of her youngest child, Stephanie, now 6.
She said she had breast fed all her children for the first two months after birth. “I wouldn’t think of having a baby without feeding him myself”.
Princess Grace and her husband, Prince Rainier, have two other children, Caroline, 14, and Albert, 13.
In the dinner speech she was to make Friday night, she spoke of combating “the widespread indecency in today’s world” by increasing and concentrating on the solidity of the family. Copies were given to reporters.
“This solidity begins with the child at the mother’s breast”.
“As women, it is one of our greatest prides that we have in our bodies to give to our newborn children every element that an infant needs for perfect health and growth”.
“The frantic life of today has swept up women to the point where… they feel that there is no time for this vital natural function. I have many duties and obligations of state along with my husband, but my family comes first”.
The Princess said at the press conference it is a beautiful experience when younger children can watch without embarrassment their mothers breast feed brothers and sisters.
“They realize the wholesomeness of sex and its naturalness. They don’t put sex in the wrong proportion”.
The league’s belief that breast feeding is a part of nature and that mothers should not go far from their babies during that first year was evident at the convention — 1,400 mothers and 800 children attended.
Passerbys looked twice when they saw women nursing their infants in the hotel lobby, in conference rooms and while walking down the aisles.
When asked how she felt about women who want a family without sacrificing their careers, the former movie actress said she could sympathize with them.
Naturally, she said, any woman who has studied for a profession wants to be able to continue it.
“And there are women who may not want to be mothers. This is fine, too. But the children can’t suffer. If she is going to be a mother they must be her first choice”.
A strong Catholic, Her Highness is against legalized abortion. On the subject of planned parenthood, she stated flatly: “Well, I believe in the natural way of birth control”.
A group of reporters broke up with laughter when she told how Prince Rainier had wished to be with her during the birth of one of their children.
The Princess said she didn’t want him in the room because she would be thinking about his reaction and not giving full attention to the delivery. She laughed and said, “I had to have my babies in French and that required more concentration”.
Her views on the roles of the mother and father are in the old world European tradition.
“Why should men assume more responsibility (with the children)? It’s not their job… It’s against their nature. This is a woman’s privilege”.
While Princess Grace approves of some aspects of the women’s liberation movement, such as equal pay and job opportunities, she is strongly against child care centers.
“I think it’s a great pity to put children off into day care centers”.
Especially in America, she observed, many mothers who don’t work outside the home still are eager to get their offspring out of the home and to thrust them into day nurseries or kindergartens.
Probably her children will not go to school in America.
A few years ago, the Princess said, she wanted the children to attend an American school.
“But the schools are slackening so much in their discipline”, she said and also noted the drug problem.
“When a child is 5,000 miles away in a boarding school, you don’t want him to have complete freedom”
The royal couple will send Caroline to St. Mary’s Convent School in England this fall to broaden her knowledge of the English culture.
There is a rumor that Caroline is being sent to the “prim” school to discourage the young girl’s hope of becoming an actress.
Princess Grace squelched the report with a serene smile and the comment, “That was a newspaperman’s imagination”.
Copyright © The Chicago Sentinel (July 17, 1971)