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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Monaco bids farewell to Rainier
Coffin carried to cathedral
Monaco fell silent as the coffin was carried to the cathedral
Politicians and dignitaries from around the world have attended a funeral service for Monaco's Prince Rainier.

Prince Rainier III, Europe's longest-reigning monarch, died on 6 April at the age of 81, after spending several weeks in hospital.

His coffin was carried from the palace chapel towards the city-state's cathedral for the service.

Rainier will be buried next to his wife, the Hollywood star Grace Kelly, who died after a car crash in 1982.

He is succeeded by their son, Prince Albert, 47. The couple had two other children - Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie.

Gate closed

During Friday's ceremony, and in accordance with Prince Rainier's wishes, 10 soldiers from the Prince's Company of Carabineers carried his coffin out of the palace, crossing a square filled with up to 3,000 people, many holding red and white roses.

Belgium's King Albert II
UK Prince Andrew
Denmark's Prince Joachim
French President Chirac
Irish President Mary McAleese
Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia

Led by a contingent of soldiers and clergy, the procession made its way through the black-draped gates of the palace and along the route to the cathedral, which had been sealed off by police.

The palace's Gate of Honour was closed symbolically after the coffin was carried out.

Flags lining the streets, also tied with black ribbons of mourning, were at half mast.

Prince Rainier's family followed behind as a band played Beethoven's Funeral March - music chosen by Rainier's eldest daughter, Princess Caroline.

Joining Caroline were Prince Albert and their sister Stephanie. Caroline's three oldest children Andrea, Charlotte and Pierre followed. Prince Rainier's dog, Odin, also formed part of the funeral cortege.

Private burial

French President Jacques Chirac, King Juan Carlos of Spain and the United Kingdom's Prince Andrew are among the dignitaries attending the cathedral service.

Archbishop Bernard Barsi, opening the service, said Prince Rainier had "entered into the sleep of death" on 6 April. He said the prince had been a father who was "both loving and loved".

Only close family will attend his burial on Friday night in a private ceremony.

Rainier died after having suffered from heart, kidney and lung problems.

Monaco has declared a three-month mourning period following the prince's death.

Watch the funeral service in more detail

In pictures: Monaco mourns Rainier
15 Apr 05 |  In Pictures
Obituary: Prince Rainier III
06 Apr 05 |  Europe
Life in pictures: Prince Rainier III
06 Apr 05 |  In Pictures
The Grimaldis after Rainier
06 Apr 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Monaco
01 Apr 05 |  Country profiles

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