As tributes pour in from foreign leaders, the people of Monaco are preparing for the funeral of Prince Rainier, who died yesterday at the age of 81. The body of Europe’s longest-reigning monarch now lies in the royal palace. Members of the public will be able to view it next Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Prince’s funeral will take place next Friday.
Rainier’s last public appearance was in January this year at the principality’s circus festival. He died after a month in hospital battling lung, heart and kidney problems. He will be buried at the 19th-century Monaco Cathedral where he married American actress Grace Kelly in 1956.
He is expected to be laid to rest alongside the Princess, who died in a car crash in 1982. Their only son, Albert, is the principality’s new ruler. He has cancelled plans to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II. The chief of government will lead Monaco’s delegation.
US President George W. Bush has said Rainier will be remembered as a respected leader who secured the prosperity of Monaco’s people. In the principality, flags already at half-mast following the Pope’s death have now been draped in black.