Below a golden crown, Prince Rainier III was given a tearful farewell Friday April 15th, 2005 at a funeral in Monaco's cathedral, closing a fairy tale that started nearly 50 years ago with his marriage in the same spot to Hollywood beauty Grace Kelly
The fabled Monte Carlo casino was closed, as were other businesses, and security was tight as the funeral attracted more than half a dozen heads of state and other dignitaries from some 60 countries. They included French President Jacques Chirac, Irish President Mary McAleese, Belgium's King Albert II, Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia and royalty from Sweden, Luxembourg and elsewhere.
The cathedral later was closed to the public for Rainier's burial in the family crypt alongside his beloved Princess Grace at a private service Friday night. She died in a car crash in 1982, and Rainier never remarried.
Their children — son and heir Prince Albert II, and Princesses Caroline and Stephanie — blinked back tears during the Mass as Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" mournfully echoed through the 19th cathedral that overlooks the sea.
Rainier was Europe's longest-serving monarch. The royals, nobles and other VIPs who flew in for the funeral underscored how he helped overcome Monaco's reputation as a "sunny place for shady people" and a haven for tax evasion, money-laundering and gambling, and oversaw its modernization.
In his eulogy at the Mass, Archbishop Bernard Barsi said Rainier was affectionately known as the "builder prince" who oversaw a 20 percent expansion in Monaco's territory by land reclamation from the sea. It still remains, however, no bigger than New York City's Central Park.
"For all of us, the prince was, of course, the sovereign, but he was also a friend, a member of the family," Barsi said. "His family cries for him."
But it was Rainier's 1956 marriage to Kelly that became Monaco's true claim to fame.
The archbishop said they were "an exceptional couple, united by the heart and spirit" and that Rainier bore "with dignity the terrible ordeal of the brutal death of his wife."
"We are convinced that those who were united here below by the fidelity of their conjugal love are forever united in the fullness of God's love," he said.