The people of Monaco gathered today for Easter Mass with a special prayer planned for Prince Rainier III, facing a life-and-death battle against kidney, lung and heart failure in a hospital’s intensive care unit.
The Royal Palace issued a statement saying Prince Rainier was conscious and his heart, lung and kidney functions had stabilized.
He is breathing with the aid of a respirator.
The announcement came a day after the palace said three doctors for the 81-year-old monarch had issued the most pessimistic report yet on his prospects for survival.
At Monaco Cathedral, where the prince married Hollywood starlet Grace Kelly in 1956, some worshippers sat in pews with copies of Monaco Matin newspaper before Mass began.
“Prince Rainier: The Worst Ever,” read the front-page headline.
The newspaper said Archbishop Bernard Barsi, who was to lead the Mass, yesterday visited the hospital where Rainier – the longest-serving European ruler – was bedridden and breathing with a respirator.
While religious leaders lead prayers for the prince every week, this Sunday was of special significance.
A prayer written in Latin in the mass program said: “God protect our Prince Rainier and answer our prayers in this time that we call on you.”
Yesterday the palace said Rainier’s prognosis was ”extremely reserved,” and that despite appropriate medical care, his cardiac, lung and kidney functions were “progressively deteriorating”.
The prince’s health “does not stop worsening”, said the bulletin, which was signed by three doctors.
Rainier, who has suffered ill health in recent years, was hospitalised at the Cardio-Thoracic Centre on March 7 with a chest infection. He was transferred to the intensive care unit on Tuesday when his health took a sudden turn for the worse.
Rainier, who has ruled Monaco since 1949, is beloved in the tiny principality he transformed into a modern and elegant enclave for the rich.
His family, the Grimaldis, have ruled Monaco for more than 700 years. His son Albert, 47, long groomed to take Rainier’s mantle as monarch, would take the title His Serene Highness. Albert’s sister, Princess Caroline, 48, would be next in line to the throne, followed by her eldest son, Andrea, now 20.
Princess Grace, who died in a 1982 car crash, is buried in the crypt of the 19th century cathedral that sits on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean not far from the palace.