Monaco's Rainier to Be Buried Next to Grace Kelly
MONACO - Monaco's Prince Rainier, who transformed his tiny principality into a haven for billionaires, will be buried next week alongside his late wife, U.S. film star Grace Kelly, palace sources said Thursday.
State leaders and royalty are expected in Monaco's cathedral on April 15 for the funeral of the prince, whose marriage to Kelly brought Hollywood glamour to the world's second smallest state after the Vatican.
Rainier, 81, died Wednesday after a month in hospital battling lung, heart and kidney problems. His body has been transferred to his palace, officials said.
"Tradition dictates that the body of the Prince stays in his apartments for a few days and is then transferred to the palace chapel, where the Monegasques can pay him a last tribute," Monaco's archbishop Bernard Barsi told reporters.
In line with his wishes, Rainier will be buried in the crypt of Monaco's cathedral next to Princess Grace, who died in a car crash in 1982, palace sources said. Rainier never remarried, saying years after her death that he still felt her absence.
Flags in Monaco flew at half mast Thursday, and the principality told theaters and concert halls not to stage performances until after the funeral.
Mourning will last three months for Rainier's family. But Monaco's Formula One Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled at the end of May.
Rainier, Europe's longest-reigning monarch, will be succeeded by his 47-year old son Albert. A former Olympic bobsled racer who has lived in the shadow of his sisters Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie, Albert took over his father's royal duties last week as hopes faded that Rainier would recover.
"This is a man who has been prepared all his life for the responsibilities he's now holding," Patrick Leclercq, Monaco's minister of state, told RTL radio.
"I think the main task will evidently be to make Monaco's economy even more diversified," he said, adding that the principality aimed to attract high-tech firms.
When Rainier succeeded his grandfather, Monaco was best known for the casino on which its prosperity was founded in the 19th century. As Europe's last constitutional autocrat, he led Monaco into an age of skyscrapers, international banking and business.
Billionaires and millionaires poured in, drawn by the absence of income tax and the protection offered by the presence of policemen and security cameras on almost every street.