Prince Albert ascends to Monaco throne
Bells pealed across Monaco as the tiny Riviera principality feted Prince Albert II's rise to the throne today and bid a final symbolic farewell to his late father, Rainier III.
Princes from Europe, Africa and the Middle East were among the royal representatives who flew in for a day of festivities that marked the final phase of Albert's ascension to the throne of Monaco's 700-year-old dynasty.
Under a bright blue Mediterranean sky, the day started with a solemn Mass at Monaco's 19th-century cathedral and was to end in the evening with a gala performance at the opera, followed by fireworks above Monte Carlo's famed casino.
Wearing a royal ceremonial military uniform, a grave-looking Albert blinked back tears after kneeling to receive a blessing at the end of the Mass, which was led by the archbishop of Monaco, Monsignor Bernard Barsi.
"By rising to the Grimaldi throne, Prince Albert finds his place in the continuity of this dynasty and with the help of God, carries forward the destiny of the principality dating more than seven centuries," Monsignor Barsi said between strains of organ music and Handel's Messiah.
Hundreds of Monaco residents watched the ceremony from a giant screen outside the cliff-top palace, near the cathedral.