Monaco's Prince Rainier has died Wednesday at the age of 81, after a reign of more than half-a-century.
The prince, who has had a series of health setbacks in recent years, was hospitalized in early March for a lung infection.
Prince Rainier ascended the throne of his Mediterranean city-state in May 1949. Over the years, he turned Monaco, which is less than two square kilometers in area, from an anonymous small town on the French Riviera into a major financial power.
His marriage to American movie star Grace Kelly in 1956 also brought international attention to Monaco, helping turn the principality into one of the world's most glamorous cities.
Monaco earns considerable revenue from its casinos and much publicity from its Formula One Grand Prix, one of the world's major sporting events. Monaco residents pay no taxes.
Princess Grace died in a car crash in 1982. She and Prince Rainier had three children, including 47 year-old Prince Albert, who will now succeed his late father.