|Palace guards carry casket of Prince Rainier III during funeral procession in Monaco, Friday |
Monaco buried its long-serving ruler, Prince Rainier Friday, in a lavish ceremony attended by world leaders and monarchs.
Prince Rainier was buried in the same Monaco cathedral where he married American movie star Grace Kelly, nearly 50 years ago. The prince was Europe's longest-ruling monarch. He died April 6 at age 81. He will be buried beside Princess Grace, who died in a car crash in 1982.
Kings, queens and presidents from around the world descended on the principality Friday morning to bid farewell to Prince Rainier, who transformed Monaco from an impoverished rocky outcrop to a glamorous hub for millionaires and movie stars.
Eight palace guards carried the princes coffin to the cathedral, where a mass was held shortly after noon.
Prince Albert, 47, Monaco's new ruler, listened to the Mass being said for his father, with a sad expression on his face. He was flanked by his sisters, Princesses Stephanie and Caroline, who wept openly.
In front of them lay Prince Rainier's coffin, draped with the flag of Monaco. A gold-tipped sword lay on top, and three large bouquets of red and white roses lay at the foot of the coffin, bearing the names of the Prince's three children.
Archbishop Bernard Barsi, who opened the service, described Prince Rainier as a loving father, who was also beloved by Monaco's 32,000 residents. For all of us, the archbishop said, the prince was the sovereign of the country, but also a friend, a member of the family.
Those attending the service included King Juan Carlos of Spain, Prince Andrew of Britain, and President Jacques Chirac of France, which appoints Monaco's prime minister and other top officials.
While Prince Rainier was beloved in Monaco, his son is also extremely popular in the tiny principality. Analysts predict Prince Albert will be less authoritarian than his father, and will delegate more responsibility to others. They also predict he will be under new pressure to marry and to produce an heir.