Rainier III, Sovereign Prince of Monaco passed away

Mercredi 06 Avril 2005

His Serene Highness Rainier III, Sovereign Prince of Monaco (Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi) (May 31, 1923–April 6, 2005) styled HSH The Prince of Monaco, has ruled the Principality of Monaco since his accession in 1949.

Though he is best-known elsewhere in the world for having married American actress Grace Kelly, he has also been responsible for reforms to Monaco's constitution and for expanding the principality's economy, building it into a wealthy and elegant resort.

In March 2005 Prince Rainier fell gravely ill and at the beginning of April he appeared to be near death. On April 6, he passed away.

Of French, German, Scottish, English, Spanish, and Italian ancestry, Rainier was born in Monaco, the only son of Prince Pierre Grimaldi, Duke of Valentinois (né Count Pierre de Polignac) and his wife, Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois. Born in Algeria, his mother was the only child of Prince Louis II and his mistress, Marie Juliette Louvet; she was later legitimated through formal adoption and subsequently named Hereditary Princess, heir to the throne of Monaco. His father was a half-French, half-Spanish nobleman from Brittany who adopted his wife's surname, Grimaldi, upon marriage and was made a prince of Monaco by his father-in-law. Rainier has one sister, Princess Antoinette, Baroness de Massy.

The prince is a direct descendant of Josephine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, and of William Thomas Beckford, the scandalous 18th-century English collector, tastemaker, writer, and eccentric.

Rainier was first sent to study at the Summerfield College in St. Leonards-on-Sea, England, and later at Stowe, a prestigious English public school in Buckinghamshire. From there, he went to the Institute Le Rosey in Rolle and Gstaad, Switzerland, before continuing to the University of Montpellier in France, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, and finally to the School of Political Sciences in Paris.

Rainier's grandfather, Prince Louis II, had been a General in the French army during World War I. During World War II, Rainier served as an artillery officer in the army. Second Lieutenant Rainier fought so courageously during the German counter-offensive in Alsace that he won the Croix de Guerre, the Bronze Star and was given the rank of Chevalier in the Legion of Honor.

On May 9, 1949, Rainier became the Sovereign Prince of Monaco on the death of his maternal grandfather. His mother had previously renounced her rights to the throne in his favor.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the prince lived with the French film star Gisèle Pascal (née Gisèle Tallone, 1923-). The couple reportedly separated when a doctor declared the actress to be infertile; in fact, she later married and had several children.

In 1956, His Serene Highness the Prince Rainier III of Monaco married Oscar-winning American actress Grace Kelly (1929–1982). Their children are:

1. Princess Caroline Louise Marguerite, born January 23, 1957

2. Prince Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre, heir to the throne, and Marquis of Baux, born March 14, 1958

3. Princess Stephanie Marie Elisabeth, born February 1, 1965

In the years since his wife's death, he was reportedly involved with a distant cousin, Princess Ira von Fürstenberg, a former movie actress turned jewelry designer who is also a Fiat heiress and the former sister-in-law of fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. Like him, she is a great-grandchild of Lady Mary Douglas-Hamilton, the Scottish-Bavarian wife of Prince Albert I of Monaco, though by Lady Mary's second marriage.

Rainer III is also known to be a football fan, having followed AS Monaco FC to the 2004 Champions League final. Monaco has for years hosted the European Super Cup.

Actions as Prince

As Prince of Monaco, Rainier III was responsible for the principality's new constitution in 1962 which significantly reduced the power of the sovereign. The changes ended autocratic rule, placing power with the prince and a National Council of eighteen elected members.

He is the world's second longest-serving Head of State, ranking just below King Rama IX of Thailand but above Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

In recent years, Rainier's health has been of concern. In early 2004, he was hospitalized for coronary problems. In October he was again in hospital with a lung infection. On March 8, 2005, he was again hospitalized with a lung infection. Rainier was moved to the hospital's intensive care unit on March 21. Two days later, on March 23, it was announced he was on a respirator, suffering from renal and heart failure. On March 26, the palace reported that despite intensive ongoing efforts to improve the prince's health, he was continuing to deteriorate; however, the following day, he was reported to be conscious, his heart and kidney conditions having stabilized. His prognosis remained "very reserved".

On March 31, 2005, the Prince's Palace of Monaco announced that Rainier's son Prince Albert, Marquis of Baux would take over the duties of his father as Regent since Rainier was no longer able to exercise his royal functions.

On April 1, 2005, it was announced that Rainier's chances of recovery were "slim."

On April 6, 2005, it was announced that Prince Rainier died.


Under Monaco's practice of male-preference primogeniture, Rainier's heir apparent is his only son, Prince Albert of Monaco. Princess Caroline is second in line followed by her sons Andrea Casiraghi and Pierre Casiraghi, then daughters Charlotte Casiraghi, and Princess Alexandra of Hanover. Should all these die without issue, the throne would pass to Princess Stephanie and her legitimate descendants under the rules of male-preference primogeniture. The line of succession then passes to Rainier's sister Princess Antoinette, though she and her descendants will lose their place in the line of succession upon Rainier's death. They would however still be eligible to succeed the throne if selected by a crown council should the throne become vacant.

Monaco's constitution was amended on April 2, 2002 by Princely Law 1.249 which changed the rules of succession. Prior to this change only a direct descendant of the reigning prince could assume the throne. Under the new rules, should the reigning monarch die without a direct legitimate heir, the succession passes to his or her siblings and their descendants under the rule of male-preference primogeniture. This means that Princess Caroline and her children will remain in the line of succession upon Rainier's death and will be eligible to inherit the throne if Prince Albert fails to father a legitimate child.

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