Rainier de Monaco with his son.

Monaco's Prince Rainier III, Europe's longest reigning monarch, died at the age of 81 on Wednesday after a battle with lung, heart and kidney problems. Here are some key facts on Rainier. Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand de Grimaldi was born on May 31, 1923. He was a descendant of the Genoese Grimaldis, one of whom -- Francois Grimaldi «the spiteful» -- captured Monaco in 1297. The only son of Princess Charlotte of Monaco and Comte Pierre de Polignac, he was educated first at British schools, then at Le Rosey, an international school near Geneva, before studying at Montpellier University in southern France and in Paris, where he read political science. When he was 21 his mother renounced her rights to the throne in his favour. An edict of June 1944 made him heir to his grandfather, the reigning Prince Louis II. In 1945 he won the Croix de Guerre with a bronze star for gallantry and two years later the Legion of Honour for military services. Louis II died on May 9, 1949, shortly after delegating his powers to the prince, who began his reign on April 11, 1950. Princess Grace, formerly Grace Kelly, the radiant American actress he married in 1956, died in a car crash in 1982. His two daughters Caroline and Stephanie had a series of high-profile relationships, while his heir, Albert, has not married. Europe's last constitutional autocrat, he led the tiny principality into an age of skyscrapers, international banking and business, earning himself the nickname «the builder». By the 1990s, gambling accounted for less than five percent of Monaco's annual income, the bulk of revenue coming from value added tax, tourism, trade and industry. There is no income tax.


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