• House of Grimaldi
  • Prince of Monaco
  • Duke of Valentinois
  • Marquis of Baux


Prince Rainier III was the Prince of Monaco from 1949 to his death in 2005. Rainier ruled Monaco for almost 56 years, making him one of the longest ruling monarchs in European history. Though internationally known for his marriage to American actress Grace Kelly (1929-1982), he was also responsible for reforms to Monaco's constitution and for expanding the principality's economy from its traditional casino gambling base to its current tax haven role. Gambling accounts for only approximately three per cent of the nation's annual revenue today; when Rainier ascended the throne in 1949, it accounted for more than 95 per cent.

Rainier III Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi de Polignac of Monaco was born 31 May 1923 in Prince's Palace, Monaco to Pierre de Polignac (1895-1964) and Charlotte of Monaco (1898-1977) and died 6 April 2005 Prince's Palace, Monaco of unspecified causes. He married Grace Kelly (1929-1982) 18 April 1956 . Johan Willem Friso van Nassau-Dietz (1687-1711)/s, Willem van Oranje (1533-1584)/s.

Early life

Rainier was born at Prince's Palace in Monaco, the only son of Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois, and her husband, Prince Pierre, Duke of Valentinois. Rainier was the first native-born prince since Honoré IV in 1758. Rainier's mother was the only child of Louis II, Prince of Monaco, and Marie Juliette Louvet; she was legitimized through formal adoption and subsequently named heir presumptive to the throne of Monaco. Rainier's father was a half-French, half-Mexican who adopted his wife's dynasty, Grimaldi, upon marriage and was made a Prince of Monaco by marriage by Prince Louis, his father-in-law. Rainier had one sibling, Princess Antoinette, Baroness of Massy.[1]

Rainier's early education was conducted in England, at the prestigious public schools of Summerfields in St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, and later at Stowe, in Buckinghamshire. After England, Rainier attended the Institut Le Rosey in Rolle and Gstaad, Switzerland from 1939, before continuing to the University of Montpellier in France, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1943, and finally to the Institut d'études politiques de Paris in Paris.[1]

In 1944, upon his 21st birthday, Rainier's mother renounced her right to the Monegasque throne and Rainier became Prince Louis's direct heir. In World War II Rainier joined the Free French Army in September 1944, and serving under General de Monsabert as a second lieutenant, and seeing action during the German counter-offensive in Alsace. He received the French Croix de Guerre with bronze star (representing a brigade level citation) and was given the rank of Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor in 1947. Following his decommission from the French Army, he was promoted by the French government as a captain in April 1949 and a colonel in December 1954.[1]

In the 1940s and 1950s, Rainier had a ten-year relationship with the French film actress Gisèle Pascal, whom he had met while a student at Montpellier University, and the couple lived at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Rainier's sister, Princess Antoinette, wishing her own son to ascend the throne, spread rumours that Pascal was infertile. The rumours combined with a snobbery over Pascal's family origins ultimately ended the relationship.[2]

Rainier became the Sovereign Prince of Monaco on the death of Louis II on 9 May 1949.[1]

Marriage and family

The royal couple Princess Grace and Rainier III, Prince Of Monaco

After a year-long courtship described as containing "a good deal of rational appraisal on both sides" (The Times, 7 April 2005, page 59), Prince Rainier married Oscar-winning American actress Grace Kelly (1929–1982)[3] in 1956. The ceremonies in Monaco were on 18 April 1956 (civil) and 19 April 1956 (religious). Their children are:

  • Princess Caroline, born 23 January 1957 and now the Princess of Hanover;
  • Prince Albert II, born 14 March 1958, inherited the throne of Monaco;
  • Princess Stéphanie, born 1 February 1965.

Rainier, Albert, Caroline, Stéphanie, Nancy Reagan and Robert McCormick Adams at the presentation of a portrait head of Princess Grace at the National Portrait Gallery in October 1986

In 1979, Prince Rainier made his acting debut alongside his wife Grace in a 33-minute independent film called Rearranged, produced in Monaco. According to co-star Edward Meeks, after premiering it in Monaco, Grace showed it to ABC TV executives in New York in 1982, who expressed interest if extra scenes were shot to make it an hour long. However, Grace died in a car crash caused by a stroke in 1982, making it impossible to expand the film for American release.[4][5][6]

Rainier then may have been romantically involved with his second cousin, Princess Ira von Fürstenberg, a former actress turned jewellery designer, who is also a Fiat heiress and the former sister-in-law of fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg. Princess Ira, like him, is a great-grandchild of Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton, the Scottish-German wife of Prince Albert I of Monaco, though by Lady Mary's second marriage.

After Grace's death, Rainier refused to remarry.[7]


Offspring of Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly (1929-1982)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Caroline of Monaco (1957-)
Albert II of Monaco (1958-) 14 March 1958 Prince's Palace of Monaco, Monaco Tamara Rotolo (1961-) Nicole Tossoukpé (1971-) Tamara Rotolo (1961-) Nicole Tossoukpé (1971-) Charlene Wittstock (1978-)
Stéphanie of Monaco (1965-)


See Also


  1. ^ a b c d "Obituary: Prince Rainier III of Monaco.", The Times, London, 7 April 2005, pg. 58
  2. ^ "Obituary: Giselle Pascal". The Independent. 8 February 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2014. 
  3. ^ 1956: Prince Rainier marries Grace Kelly, BBC: On This Day. Accessed 31 May 2008.
  4. ^ "Rearranged (1982)". Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  5. ^ " – Transcripts". 2005-04-15. Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  6. ^ Thilo Wydra (2014-11-18). "Grace: A Biography". Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  7. ^ Dennis Barker. "Prince Rainier of Monaco | World news". Retrieved 2014-05-09. 

Footnotes (including sources)