Prince Rainier III of Monaco has died after nearly two weeks in a hospital intensive care unit. Rainier's son, Albert, has already assumed his father's duties as monarch of the tiny state on the Mediterranean coast.
With his marriage to Grace Kelly, Rainier put Monaco on the map
Rainier III, Europe's longest reigning monarch, was rushed into intensive care two weeks ago when his health took a dramatic turn for the worse. The 81-year-old prince had been battling lung, heart and kidney problems.
As Rainier's health worsened in recent days, the prince's three children by his late wife, the US film star Grace Kelly, took turns at his bedside, and he also received visits from Monaco's archbishop and a parish priest.
Prince Rainier III leaves the cathedral of Monaco with his son, Prince Albert
His only son, the bachelor Prince Albert, 47, is his heir. Albert's bachelor status had for a long time cast a question over the Grimaldi family's rule. In 2002, Rainier changed Monaco's constitution to allow the offspring of his daughters, Caroline, 48, and Stephanie, 40, to enter the line of succession. However, last week, Albert assumed his father's duties when hopes that Rainier would recover faded.
Rainier came to the throne in the tiny Mediterranean territory in 1949, three years before Britain's Queen Elizabeth II succeeded her father.
After years as a jet-setting playboy, he boosted the glamour quotient of his little state when he married Kelly in 1956. She died in a car crash in the principality in 1982.
Monaco was founded when Rainier's Grimaldi dynasty took control of the principality in 1297. The family was deposed after the French Revolution when Monaco was united with France, but restored by treaty in 1861.
The principality has a population of around 32,000, many of them ultra-rich residents enjoying its tax-haven benefits. Much of its image and financial success of the second-smallest state in Europe after the Holy See has been credited to Prince Rainier, who oversaw building projects, brought in the Formula One motor race, and fostered Monaco's reputation as an exclusive playground for the rich and famous.