MONACO ROYALS
Olivier Hoslet  /  EPA via Sipa Press file
Prince Albert, left, has assumed the royal duties of his father, Prince Rainier, right.
updated 3/31/2005 1:46:09 PM ET 2005-03-31T18:46:09

Prince Albert has taken over the regency of Monaco because his ailing father is unable to exercise his royal functions, the palace said Thursday.

The announcement was made in a brief statement from the royal palace, which gave no updates on the health of Prince Rainier, who is being treated for breathing, kidney and heart problems.

A royal commission, the Council of the Crown, decided that it was difficult for Rainier to "exercise his high functions," the statement from the palace said.

A brief statement Wednesday from the palace that was signed by doctors said no more information on the 81-year-old prince’s health would be released for 48 hours, an unusual move after near-daily updates on the monarch’s condition.

“Under the influence of kidney dialysis, the biological parameters are stable,” the statement said, with no “notable change” in his state of health.

Anxiety in the kingdom
On Tuesday, doctors said the prognosis on Rainier was “extremely guarded,” and he remained in a “very fragile” state of health.

Residents of this tiny and tony Riviera principality remained anxious about the prince’s health.

“For us, it’s terrible. We have a knot in our throats even to talk about it,” said nurse Patrick Audoli.

Monaco, a haven for the jet set and the rich and a renowned spot for gambling, took on a fairy-tale life when Rainier married Hollywood star Grace Kelly, who died in a 1982 car crash. The Grimaldi dynasty has ruled Monaco — smaller than New York’s Central Park — for more than 700 years.

Rainier, who has had bouts of illness for several years, was hospitalized at Monaco’s Cardio-Thoracic Center on March 7 with a chest infection. He was transferred to the intensive care unit nine days ago when his health took a sharp downturn.

Doctors said he suffered heart and kidney failure and had been placed on a respirator to breathe.

The palace has issued brief health updates on Rainier’s condition nearly every day since.

“Every day, we expect the terrible news — but you know, Rainier is a rock,” said Fabrizio Spina, a restaurateur. “He’s solid. He hasn’t yet breathed his last breath.”

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