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Published: Wednesday, 4/6/2005

* New * Monaco s Prince Rainier, Europe s longest-reigning monarch, dies at age 81

MONACO Prince Rainier III, whose fairy-tale marriage to Hollywood star Grace Kelly brought elegance and glamour to one of Europe s oldest dynasties, died today, nearly a month after he was hospitalized with a lung infection. He was 81.

Europe s longest-reigning monarch died at 6:35 a.m. from heart, kidney and lung problems at the hospital overlooking Monaco s glittering, yacht-filled harbor, the palace said. His only son, Prince Albert, was at his side, it said.

The body of Rainier, whose family dynasty took power in 1297, was moved to his hilltop palace where it will in lie in state, the palace said.

The Mediterranean enclave s famed Monte Carlo casino closed its doors today in a sign of respect.

Each of us feels like an orphan because the principality has been marked by his imprint over the 56 years of his reign, said Patrick Leclercq, head of government in the principality of 32,000 people.

Rainier s doctors had called Albert about 30 minutes beforehand to tell him the end was near, the palace said. The palace statement didn t say if Rainier s daughters, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie, were with him when he died.

With Rainier s death, Albert took the title of Prince Albert II.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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