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Monaco's Prince Rainier III dies at 81

Prince Rainier of Monaco died at the age of 81. The Prince had been ailing for months. He was placed on a respirator Wednesday, after suffering heart and kidney failure. Lisa Bryant takes a look at the prince who placed the tiny principality on the international map. Robert Raffaele narrates.

Prince Rainier of Monaco
Prince Rainier was widely considered one of Monaco's most powerful and effective leaders. During his 56-year rule, he transformed the principality, tucked along the French Riviera, from a mile-square outcrop of rocky land into one of the world's most glamorous and moneyed capitals.

Under Prince Rainier, analysts say, Monaco became a financial power, and expanded physically as well, thanks in large part to an extensive landfill project.

Today, Monaco is home to some of the world's richest and most famous people, not only because of its location on the Mediterranean, but also because of its status as a tax haven.

Over the years, the principality has become renowned for many other things: Its world famous Monte Carlo casino and ballet, its Grand Prix auto race, and the Grimaldi royal family who are regularly featured in photo magazines and tabloids.

Monaco was a very different place when Prince Rainier was born in 1923. He fought the Nazis in World War II and won several medals. In 1949, he became monarch with the death of his grandfather.

Prince Rainier is perhaps best remembered for his marriage to American movie actress Grace Kelly, in 1956. Princess Grace gave Monaco a new luster, and the rich and famous flocked to the Riviera paradise. She died in a car accident in 1982.

More recently, Monaco was ranked briefly on a so-called "gray list" of money laundering states compiled by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force. And in 2000, French lawmakers criticized Monaco for tolerating financial improprieties, a charge the principality -- and Prince Rainier -- angrily denied. But today, experts say Monaco has cleaned up its reputation.

Prince Rainier is survived by his three children: Princess Caroline, Princess Stephanie, and his heir, Prince Albert.