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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 April, 2005, 06:33 GMT 07:33 UK
The Grimaldis after Rainier
By Caroline Frost
BBC News profiles unit

Monaco's future: Caroline, Albert and Stephanie
Monaco's future: Caroline, Albert and Stephanie

They were the children of a prince and a film star, and were always going to attract attention.

Now, as Prince Albert and Princesses Caroline and Stephanie move to the centre of the glamorous stage-set of Monaco, the pressure is on them to lead the principality with more consistency and dignity than they have hitherto shown.

The public gaze is nothing new for them. From their childhood, the offspring of one of the 20th century's most celebrated partnerships were encouraged to accommodate the media to help tourism.

As glamorous teenagers, they increasingly attracted the paparazzi lenses to their real-life soap-operas.

But they were relaxed, believing they could behave recklessly, leaving the sovereignty of the state in their parents' capable hands.

Prince Albert
Does Albert have the qualities necessary to rule?
That all changed in 1982, with the death of Princess Grace. All three children were forced to develop their roles as ambassadors for Monaco, and raise their accessibility to the public accordingly.

Rainier always worried that Albert lacked "the necessary toughness" to rule.

Albert had a stammer for many years, which he claims to have cured through his love of sports. He took his own Monaco Bobsled Team to the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988 and is a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Albert enjoys his own eligibility, and many of the beautiful women in Monte Carlo's international playground end up on his arm.

Caroline's battle with the Vatican

However, the "playboy prince" fights shy of marriage and starting a family, which may explain Rainier's decision in 2002 to change Monaco's constitution.

Previously, the principality would have become part of France in the absence of a male heir. Rainier had the law changed so that, in the event of Albert remaining childless, Caroline and Stephanie can follow their brother, who was proclaimed regent during Rainier's last days.

With seven children between the sisters, the line of succession looks to be assured.

For a period in the 1980s, it seemed that Caroline was much more ready than her brother to assume sovereignty.

Caroline with Stefano Casiraghi
Casiraghi's death drove Caroline from Monaco
This had not been the case when, in 1978, against her parents' wishes, she married Philippe Junot, a Parisian boulevardier 17 years her senior.

The marriage lasted two years, although it took the princess another 12 to gain an annulment from the Vatican and render her children legitimate.

She was married again, in 1983, to Stefano Casiraghi. Caroline's happy family life was shattered in 1990, when Casiraghi was killed while defending the World Offshore Powerboat Championship.

Crippled by grief, his widow moved to Provence and retreated from all public functions.

She slowly re-emerged into Monegasque society and by 1996 was accompanied by the "happily married" Prince Ernst of Hanover, the husband of a long-time friend, laughing off rumours of a scandal.

They are now married with a daughter.

Disgrace for Ducruet

Rainier's youngest child, Stephanie, has been similarly fickle in her decision-making.

After Princess Grace's death, Stephanie was burdened by the knowledge that "everyone wanted her to survive, and instead I did".

Stephanie with Daniel Ducruet
Short-lived happiness for Stephanie with Ducruet
In the years since, Stephanie's search for independence has involved futile career moves, and a string of doomed romantic liaisons.

Although her family was alarmed by her relationship in America with a convicted sex offender, they were even less prepared for her announcement that she was expecting a child by her bodyguard Daniel Ducruet.

The couple went on to have two children before finally marrying in 1995. The princess's Roman Catholic father despaired.

A year later, Ducruet brought fresh scandal to the already beleaguered family. In what he later described as a drunken set-up, he was photographed in a naked embrace with Miss Topless Belgium.

Italian tabloids published 26 pornographic pages. The princess's divorce was announced within a month.

Privileged but pre-occupied

Following her sister's example in times of crisis, Stephanie relocated her family for a while to an Alpine chalet. She ventured out to bear a third child in 1998, again out of wedlock. This time, the princess refused to name her new daughter's father, widely believed to be another bodyguard.

Prince Rainier, with Prince Albert, Princesses Caroline, Charlotte and Alexandra
A new generation must now try to emulate the popular Prince Rainier
Instead, in September 2003, she announced her marriage to a circus acrobat. Portuguese Trapeze star Adans Lopez Peres even included Stephanie's children in his act, but that union, too, has since folded.

Despite the ease with which the two sisters are able to desert their home principality, the family continue to enjoy almost total support from the Monegasques.

In their father, the three Grimaldi children had an impeccable instructor in conducting affairs of state.

Even so, if these three privileged but pre-occupied jewels in Monaco's crown are to lead their loyal people with anything like Prince Rainier's aplomb, they will very quickly have to enhance the state of their own affairs.

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