Monday, Dec. 19, 2005

Prince Rainier III

The Storybook Sovereign
Rainier seemed to live a fairy tale: a dashing prince — with palaces, yachts and the title His Serene Highness — found a dazzling princess, the American actress Grace Kelly. In 56 years of rule, he restored Monaco from near bankruptcy to synonymity with glamour and extravagant, if secret, wealth. But in his later years, personal woes overshadowed his statecraft and added less-magical drama to his story. He lost Grace in a 1982 car crash. Daughter Stephanie ran off with a circus performer. Son Albert failed to wed or produce a legitimate heir. "It is just as complex," Rainier said in 1999, "to manage family problems as the principality's affairs."