Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Monaco's Prince Rainier dies

Prince Rainier of Monaco Posted by Hello

MONACO (CNN) -- World leaders have been mourning the death of Prince Rainier III of Monaco, crediting him with creating wealth and prestige for his tiny nation.

Rainier's marriage to American film star Grace Kelly also brought elegance and glamor to one of Europe's oldest dynasties. Rainier was 81.

He died of heart, lung and kidney failure at 6.35 a.m. local time (0435 GMT) Wednesday, at the hospital where he has been treated for several weeks, a palace official said.

"This is a time for grief, and all of us here feel orphans as he has molded the principality of Monaco with his outstanding personality during this 56 years of his reign," the spokesman said in a recorded statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Rainier's heir, Prince Albert II, that his father "will remain in our memory as a gallant warrior who fought for the liberation of Europe during World War II." (More reaction)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who succeeds Rainier as Europe's longest-serving monarch, also sent his family a message of condolence and said she was "saddened" to hear of his death, her palace said in a statement.

He is expected to be buried beside his wife close to the palace after at least a week's mourning.

The funeral for Prince Rainier III of Monaco was expected to be held midday April 15, a palace official told The Associated Press Wednesday.

A Mass for the royal family was being held in the palace's Palatine Chapel on Wednesday evening.
Whirlwind courtship

Rainier is given most of the credit for putting and keeping his tiny principality on the map.

Monaco, less than a square mile in area, has been in Grimaldi family hands for more than seven centuries, but it was only when Rainier took the throne in 1949 that the real myth and money making began.

At first the dashing young prince used the reflected glamor of the French Riviera to attract growing numbers of tourists to his casino and hotels.

But it was his whirlwind courtship and eventual marriage to American movie actress Grace Kelly that gave Monaco the glittering image that continues to draw in cruise liners full of visitors.

Her Hollywood connections made Monaco a mandatory stop for the movie crowd, especially in spring when heading for the nearby film festival at Cannes.

Rainier, not always comfortable in public,%2

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