European leaders mourn Monaco's prince

Tributes flooded in from around Europe for Monaco’s Prince Rainier III, who died on Wednesday. French President Jacques Chirac hailed the prince’s “courage and tenacity” in the face of his failing health.

In a message of condolence to Rainier’s only son and successor, Prince Albert, Chirac praised Rainier for helping to modernise once-sleepy Monaco. The French leader said he learned of Rainier’s death “with much emotion and great sadness”.

Chirac said Rainier, who took the throne in 1949 and had been Europe’s longest-serving monarch, “enabled his country to gain access to the international stage and gave it modern structures,

all while preserving the traditional elements, which, over time, forged Monaco’s originality.”

“His courage and tenacity in the face of illness will remain with us as an example,” Chirac added.

He assured Albert, who took over royal powers from Rainier last week and became Monaco’s de facto ruler with his father’s death, of France’s friendship “to uphold and reinforce the close links that unite our two countries”.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who succeeded Rainier as the longest-serving monarch in Europe, also sent his family a message of condolence and was “saddened” to hear of his death, her palace said in a statement.

German President Horst Koehler also paid tribute to Rainier in a telegram to Albert.

“With his entrepreneurial spirit, Prince Rainier played a decisive part in changing the principality in recent decades,” Koehler said.
“He fulfilled his duties as head of state with remarkable willpower until the end.”

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the European Union’s executive learned of Rainier’s death with “great emotion.” He sent “our very respectful and sincere condolences” to the royal family and people of Monaco.

Terry Davis, secretary general of the Council of Europe, said that “over the course of an exceptionally long reign, the prince was able to successfully combine Monaco’s uniqueness with openness towards the rest of Europe”.

Monaco joined the council, Europe’s foremost human rights organisation, last year, having enacted reforms in a series of sectors, ranging from electoral rights to money laundering.

“We know how dear the prince was to the people of Monaco, and we respectfully express our solidarity with the family and the people of Monaco in their mourning,” Davis said in a statement.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also expressed “immense sadness” over the death of Rainier, who was 81. Rainier was an IOC member from 1949 until his resignation in 1950 when he decided to dedicate his time fully to his princely duties.

“A man of courage and honour, Prince Rainier, through his work and activities, immeasurably contributed to give Monaco wider credibility far beyond the sphere of the Principality’s famous sports events, but as the home of numerous sports organisations and the international meeting place for the promotion of sport and its values,” an IOC statement said.—Sapa-AP

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