Monaco`s Prince Rainier,III whose marriage to movie star Grace Kelly and shrewd strategy of attracting business and tourism turned his tiny state into a jet-set resort celebrated for its glamour, gambling and gorgeous young royals, died today, his palace said. He was 81. The palace said the prince died after a battle with lung, heart and kidney problems. "His Most Serene Highness Prince Rainier III died on Wednesday, April 6, 2005, at 6:35 in the morning at Monaco`s Cardiothoracic Centre following broncho-pulmonary, cardiac and kidney disorders," the palace said in a statement. Rainier who had suffered from heart and respiratory problems for several years, had been hospitalized since March 7. The palace said March 22, that he had been moved into intensive care after his condition took an unexpected turn for the worse. His only son, Prince Albert, succeeds him as ruler of the principality, which takes up less than once square mile on the Mediterranean coast, near the French border with Italy. Albert, 47, took over his father`s royal duties last week as hopes for his recovery faded. Rainier ruled over Monaco for more than half a century, and his family has been in power for seven centuries. The family traces its history back to Francois Grimaldi, who, back in 1297, dressed up as a monk and begged shelter at the fortress on the Rock of Monaco. Once inside, he seized control. YOUNG HEIR BECOMES RULER: His Serene Highness Prince Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand was born in the palace of Monaco on May 31, 1923. His mother was Princess Charlotte, sole heir of Monaco`s Prince Louis II. She married a French aristocrat, Count Pierre de Polignac, who subsequently adopted the Grimaldi name. Ierre and Charlotte produced two children, Rainier and Princess Antoinette, but their marriage was not happy. The couple divorced in 1929, but continued to battle over their children. Rainier was sent to prep school in England. He reportely was very unhappy, and later transferred to a Swiss boarding school. He obtained a bachelor`s degree from the Universitie` Montpellier and later studied at the School of Political Sciences in Paris. During World War II, Rainier was fiercely anti-Nazi, and he unsuccessfully pressed his grandfather to dismiss his pro-German minister of state. Rainier joined the French army where he served with distinction, receiving the Cross of War and the Bronze Star. PLAYBOY PRINCE FULFILLS HIS DESTINY: Prince Albert is an accomplished sportsman, a bright student and a confirmed bachelor, and he remains an untested monarch. Albert, 47, became the ruler of Monaco on the death today of his 81-year-old father, Prince Rainier,III. A formal investiture ceremony will take place after a mourning period. Albert had already taken over his father`s duties, becoming regent on March 31 after a royal commission decided Rainier was too sick to retain them. Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre was born on March 14, 1958, in Monaco. He is the only son of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly, the stunning American actress who died in a car accident in 1982 at the age of 52. As Monaco`s heir, Prince Albert was groomed from his earliest days to succeed his father. "I think Prince Albert will be a very good monarch because he is well prepared, he has been brought up to do the job," said Stephane Bern, a royal analyst and broadcaster on the national France Iner radio. Prince Albert`s father personally supervised his son`s upbringing. He wanted to toughen up the sensitive, stammering, blue-eyed, blond boy who had inherited his mother`s good looks, according to John Glatt`s book, "The Royal House of Monaco." Albert graduated with honors from Monegasque high school and then went on to Amherst College in Massachusetts. He graduated in 1981 with a degree in political science. The young prince loved America, where other children were less deferential to him than they were in Monaco and he could feel like anyone else, explains Glatt. He stayed off the front pages of broadsheets during his time at Amherst and then joined the French navy. In the days following Princess Grace`s death on September 13, 1982, the shy 24-year-old was forced into the spotlight. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Albert tried his hand at business with a number of internships. In a span of less than three years, he worked in New York in financial management, in the beverage and marketing industries in Paris, and dabbled in advertising before working at a law firm back in New York.
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