Rainier III, Prince of Monaco

Dafato Team | May 24, 2022

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Rainier III, Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi (born May 31, 1923 in Monaco, died April 6, 2005 there) was the 13th Prince of Monaco of the Grimaldi dynasty from May 9, 1949 to April 6, 2005, son of Pierre, Duke of Valentinois and his wife, Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois.

Prince Rainier was born on May 31, 1923 in Monaco.

His parents were Pierre, Duke of Valentinois, born a count in the French de Polignac dynasty, and his wife, Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois, the illegitimate daughter and only child of Monaco's reigning monarch.

His grandparents on his father's side were Maxence, Count of Polignac, and his wife, Susana, Countess of Polignac; and on his mother's side were Louis II, reigning in the principality from 1922 to 1949, and his former mistress, Marie Louvet, a native of Algeria. Through his grandfather's marriage, his adoptive grandmother was Gizela, Princess of Monaco.

He had an older sister, Antoinette, Baroness of Massy.

At his baptism, he was given the names Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand, all in honor of his direct ancestors, including both of his grandfathers.

Genealogically, the duke belonged to the de Polignac dynasty, from which his father descended. However, he bore the family name of the rulers of Monaco, Grimaldi, and this is what his descendants in the male line bear. Descendants of Rainier III remain in the line of succession to the title of Duke of Polignac.


In accordance with his father's wishes, the Duke began his education in England. He was educated at the prestigious public schools, Summerfields at St Leonards-On-Sea in Sussex and later at Stowe in Buckinghamshire. He attended the Institut Le Rosey in Rolle and Gstaad from 1939 and graduated from the University of Montpellier in 1943 with a degree in art. He also took courses at the Institute of Political Science in Paris.

Prince Rainier's mother was the only child of the heir to the throne, Prince Louis. However, she came from an extramarital union and therefore bore the surname Louvet. She had no rights to inherit the Monegasque throne from her grandfather and father. Prince Albert I, the reigning prince at the time, did not approve of his son's marriage to his daughter's mother. Prince Louis decided to adopt the girl and make her his successor. If he had no legitimate descendant, the Monegasque throne would be taken by his German cousins of the Württemberg dynasty, the Dukes of Urach.

Since 1918, Charlotte officially belonged to the Monegasque princely family. A French aristocrat, Count Pierre de Polignac, was chosen as her husband and took his wife's name. The couple lived to have two children who ensured the continued succession of the throne among the Grimaldi dynasty.

From the beginning, Prince Rainier was raised to be the future ruler. He was younger than his sister, but according to the law of primogeniture, he was to inherit the throne after his mother. Soon after his birth, relations between Princess Charlotte and Prince Pierre deteriorated considerably. His mother had affairs and his father was accused of homosexuality. In addition, the conflict between Polignac and his father-in-law deepened. Prince Louis, reigning since 1922, was forced by the National Assembly to abdicate in favor of his son-in-law. He was accused of not caring about the interests of the state.

In the late 1920s, Princess Valentinois fled Monaco with her Italian lover, leaving the children in the care of their grandfather. In 1930, the separation of the couple was announced in Paris, and three years later Louis granted his daughter a divorce. According to court orders, Prince Rainier and Princess Antoinette were to remain under the care of their father, and only spend vacations in the company of their mother. In addition, an outlawry was imposed on Prince Pierre, which was in force in Monaco. The count returned to France.

His father decided that Prince Rainier would be educated in one of the famous British schools. However, the boy did not want to stay there, which led to another conflict between Pierre and Louis. In the end, it was the Monaco ruler who won the court case and the children returned to Monte Carlo. During this time, Princess Antoinette took offense at her father, accusing him of being selfish in dealing with her brother. Another misunderstanding occurred in 1936 when Prince Pierre abducted his daughter, demanding respect for a court ruling that granted him custody of the children. Duke Valentinois did not want his descendants to be raised by the Marquis Carlo Strozzi, Charlotte's lover at the time.

Antoinette and Rainier settled in Monaco. The Prince kept in touch with his father by letter, which led to a significant improvement in their relationship. Both were heartbroken when the correspondence ceased for the duration of World War II.

Heir to the throne

Meanwhile, the Duchess of Valentinois strenuously tried to obtain a church annulment of her marriage to Count Polignac so that she could marry the Marquis of Strozzi. However, the French government refused to help her. Charlotte felt that by giving birth to two offspring she had fulfilled her duty and decided to relinquish her rights to the throne to her son. She did so, on May 30, 1944, making Rainier the first in the line of succession. This caused a conflict between her mother and brother and Princess Antoinette, who, as the elder, claimed the right to take over the reins of state in the future. The official reason for the Princess's decision was that the Catholic subjects of Monaco would not accept a divorcee on the throne.

World War II

On 28 September 1944, in order to compensate for his grandfather's pro-German policy, Rainier Grimaldi enlisted in the French Liberation Army. With the rank of private he fought in the 7th Algerian Rifle Regiment in Alsace. For meritorious service, he received the Legion of Honor, 5th Class (in 1947), the French War Cross 1939-1945 with silver star, the Belgian War Cross 1940-1945 with palm and the American Bronze Star. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in the French Armed Forces in April 1949 and Colonel in December 1954.

Prince of Monaco

On May 9, 1949, Prince Louis II died and Prince Rainier III became the new ruler. He was considered to be succeeded by Princess Charlotte, but officially at that time no one in the principality bore the title of hereditary prince or hereditary duchess. Previous rulers of Monaco bearing the name were senior Rainier I from 1304 to 1314 and senior Rainier II from 1350 to 1407.

One of the first decisions of the new ruler was to remove the banishment imposed several years earlier on his father. Prince Pierre was invited to Monte Carlo and attended all the important ceremonies, the first of which was the coronation of his son in 1950. It was on such occasions that the Duke and Duchess of Valentinois met.

In December 1951, Princess Antoinette married the father of her two children, Elizabeth and Cristian (they could automatically be included in the line of succession as legitimate descendants), and began claiming the Monegasque throne again. She cited as her reason that she had a son who could extend the dynasty in the future. The chances of Baroness Massa and her descendants succeeding to the throne diminished considerably in 1957 when Princess Caroline was born and the following year when Prince Albert was born. The situation led to a conflict between Antoinette and her sister-in-law, Princess Grace, and ended with the Baroness being banished from the palace.

On June 12, 1957, he and his family flew to Stockholm to visit his father, who had been hospitalized there for four weeks.

In 1962 he pushed through changes to the country's constitution, significantly reducing the role of the leader. The eighteen-member National Assembly was to have its share of power.

He was a supporter of monarchy, and gave a speech in New York in February 1984 in which he acknowledged that the world needed more monarchs to avoid the problems faced by republics.

On May 9, 1999, the prince celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his accession to the throne. At the time, the ruler promised to abdicate in favor of his son, but it never happened.

In 2002 Prince Rainier, concerned about his son's continuing bachelor status, decided to modify the rules governing the succession to the throne. He removed the provision that there could be adopted children in the line of succession. He specified that those entitled to a place in line to the throne would be the legitimate descendants of the reigning monarch, his siblings, and the legitimate descendants of his siblings. This meant that after his death, the line of succession would not be left empty (and this would be the case because, until then, it could only include the reigning monarch's dynastic descendants - which Prince Albert did not have at the time), but would also include his two daughters and their children. If the Grimaldi line were to expire, by a decision of the National Assembly, the throne could be passed on to a person further related to the reigning family.

Rainier III took power in the country only a few years after the end of World War II. At the time, Monaco was mainly sustained by gambling profits and was known for this among Europe's social cream. Grimaldi decided to promote the country as a tax haven, led the development of business centers, presented the principality as attractive to developers and tourists.

As a member of the princely family, he participated in official royal ceremonies, which included:

Prince Rainier was an attractive man and very popular with women. His future wife, in addition to an impeccable reputation, also had to provide him with offspring who would take over the rule of the country in the future. One of the candidates to replace the duchess was the American actress Marilyn Monroe. For several years he was involved with French actress Gisele Pascal, but this marriage was opposed by his father.

The heir to the throne met Grace Kelly, an American actress, during the 1955 Cannes Film Festival. The woman was invited to participate in a photo shoot at the Prince's Palace. She was then one of the most important figures of the American delegation to France. Rainier and Grace became a couple. The prince proposed to her during a trip to the United States. On January 4, 1956, their engagement was announced. The message broadcast on this occasion was: His Royal Highness, Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, is pleased to announce his engagement to Miss Grace Kelly, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Kelly of Philadelphia.

The civil wedding ceremony took place in Monaco on April 18, with a religious ceremony held a day later at St. Nicholas Cathedral. Among the invited guests were the parents of the groom and the bride, his foster grandmother, Princess Gizela, Princess Antoinette, Count Charles de Polignac, the prince's uncle; among the foreign royal families the invitation was accepted by Faruk I, King of Egypt., the Aga Khan and Umberto II, King of Italy. Queen Elizabeth, according to protocol, refused to come to Monte Carlo because she had never met the brides before. All major European television stations carried coverage of the event. Grace was given the title of Her Royal Highness Princess of Monaco. It was the largest wedding in the principality in the 20th century, to which the celebrations of 2011, when Prince Albert entered into marriage with Charlene Wittstock, were compared.

The couple spent their honeymoon sailing on a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea.

On January 23, 1957, nine months after her wedding, the Duchess of Monaco gave birth at 9:32 a.m. in Monte Carlo to her first child and the new heir to the Monegasque throne. The girl was named Carolina Louise Margaret and given the title of hereditary Duchess of Monaco. Prince Rainier officially announced the birth of his daughter, made the first phone call to his mother, Princess Valentinois, who was living in northern France at the time, and then went to pray in the chapel.

The arrival of Princess Caroline in the world led to a deepening conflict between the Duke and Duchess of Monaco and Antoinette, Baroness of Massy. Prince Rainier's sister believed that she should be the heir to the throne because she was the oldest of her siblings and had a son who would ensure the continued succession of power in the state.

In the summer of 1957 it was reported that Grace was pregnant again. The media suggested the rounded figure of the monarch during one of her official appearances in Rome and photos from the family vacation in Switzerland. A few months earlier, Prince Rainier was forced to deny rumors of his wife's blessed state. This time the reports turned out to be true and on September 20 the Prince's Palace admitted that Grace and Rainier's second child is on the way.

On March 14, 1958 at 10:48 a.m., the princely couple became the parents of a boy, who was named Albert Alexander Louis Pierre. It was a highly anticipated birth in the small principality, as the arrival of a son in the world ensured the continuity of the succession of the Monaco throne in the male line. Prince Albert, who became the hereditary Prince of Monaco, took his place in the line of succession ahead of his older sister and could not be overtaken by any of his possible future siblings. The chances of Baroness Massa's family taking over the country were also greatly diminished.

On August 14, 1964, the Prince's Palace announced that Princess Grace was expecting the birth of her third child the following February. On February 2, 1965, Princess Stephanie Maria Elizabeth was born. The girl came third in the line of succession to the Monegasque throne, just behind her older siblings.

On June 30, 1967, the Duchess's fourth pregnancy was announced and the expected birth of another Grimaldi offspring in January 1968. On July 20, Grace was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and on the same day it was reported that she had suffered a miscarriage. The princely family was in Canada at the time to attend Monaco Day as part of the Expo. After a few days, Kelly and her daughters went to their family home in Philadelphia, while Rainier and Albert fulfilled their other official duties.

On September 13, 1982, Grace, traveling with Princess Stephanie, was in a car accident near the Monaco-France border. The following day, as a result of her injuries, the Duchess died.

Over the following years, the Prince of Monaco was associated with several women.

In 1987, it was suggested that Rainier had proposed to Ira von Furstenberg, his second-line cousin. They shared a great-grandmother, Maria, Countess of Tolna, of the British artistic Hamilton family. Rainier was her great-grandson by his first marriage and Ira her great-granddaughter by her second marriage.

In January 1994, the media reported that the prince planned to marry Hjordis Niven, two years older, the widow of British actor David Niven.

His daughter Carolina has been married since 1999 to Ernest August V, Duke of Hanover, and is entitled to use the predicate Her Royal Highness. He has four children, Andrea Casiraghi (born 1984), Charlotte Casiraghi (born 1986), Pierre Casiraghi (born 1987) and Princess Alexandra of Hanover (born 1999), and seven grandchildren.

His son, Albert II, Prince of Monaco, married Charlene Wittstock in 2011, with whom he has two children, James, Marquis of Baux (b. 2014) and Gabriela, Countess of Carlades (b. 2014). He also has an illegitimate daughter, Jasmine Grimaldi (b. 1992) and an illegitimate son, Alexander Grimaldi-Coste (b. 2003).

The youngest daughter, Princess Stephanie, has been divorced from Adans Lopez Peres since 2004 and has three children, Louis Ducruet (b. 1992), Pauline Ducruet (b. 1994) and Kamila Gottlieb (b. 1998).

During the last years of his life, Prince's health gradually deteriorated.In December 1999, he underwent heart surgery. In May 2002 he was treated for bronchial pneumonia. In December 2003, he was hospitalized for influenza and left the hospital after five days.

On March 7, 2005, he was again hospitalized with a diagnosis of lung infection. On March 22, he was transferred to the intensive care unit. Doctors reported that he was breathing with the help of a ventilator and was also being treated for kidney and heart failure. On March 27, it was announced that the ruler's condition was stable. At the same time the eyes of the world were turned to the Vatican, where John Paul II, three years older than the prince, was struggling with his illness. The Pope sent his blessing to Prince Rainier.

On March 30, the National Assembly decided that as a result of the Prince's inability to continue in office, his duties would be assumed by Prince Albert.

Shortly thereafter, the Prince's Palace made the following announcement: His Royal Highness Prince Rainier III died on Wednesday, April 6, 2005 at 6:35 a.m. in Monaco's Cardiothoracic Centre as a result of bronchial and pulmonary disease, as well as cardiac and renal disorders....

The prince's death coincided with the death of Pope John Paul II (it happened on April 2), so the event was somewhat overshadowed by the media. No member of the Monegasque princely family was able to attend the funeral ceremony at the Vatican, which took place on April 8. Minister of State, Patrick Leclercq, was present as a representative of the palace.

The Prince's funeral was scheduled for April 15, 2005, and the funeral mass was held at St. Nicholas Cathedral. It was attended by members of the immediate family - children Carol, Albert and Stephanie, grandchildren - Andrea, Charlotte and Pierre, sister Antoinette, cousin Karl Lageferd, as well as representatives of European royal families: Sonja, Queen of Norway; John Charles I, King of Spain; Prince Joachim of Denmark; William Alexander, Prince of Orange; Henry, Count of Paris; Duarte, Duke of Bragança; Carl von Habsburg; Hamad, Emir of Qatar; Henry and Mary, Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg; Prince Rashid of Morocco, Constantine II, King of Greece, Victor Emmanuel, Duke of Naples, Emmanuel Filibert, Duke of Venice and Piedmont, Charles XVI Gustav, King of Sweden and Silvia, Queen of Sweden, Prince Alexander and Princess Catherine of Yugoslavia, Andrew, Duke of York, Albert II, King of the Belgians; French President Jacques Chirac and his wife Bernadette were also present.

Prince Rainier was laid to rest alongside his wife, Princess Grace, at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco.

His name is borne by his descendants: grandson Pierre Rainier Stefano Casiraghi (born 1987), grandson Prince Jacques Honorius Rainier, Marquis of Baux (born 2014) and great-grandson Maximilian Rainier Casiraghi (born 2018).

At the date of his death, Rainier was the longest reigning European monarch and the second longest reigning in the world, after Rama IX, King of Thailand.

The central tennis court in Monte Carlo is named after the prince.


  1. Rainier III, Prince of Monaco
  2. Rainier III Grimaldi

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