Charlotte Casiraghi, flanked by her brothers Andrea (left) and Pierre, at a mass for their grandfather Prince Rainier
Photo: © AFP
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Princess Caroline, Prince Albert and Princess Stephanie clearly drew solace from each other's company at the memorial service
Photo: © AFP


7 APRIL 2006

There was a moving show of unity as Monaco's royals gathered to pay tribute to Prince Rainier on the first anniversary of his death. As Princess Caroline's older children - Charlotte, Pierre and Andrea Casiraghi - filed into the sombre hush of the principality's cathedral, it was not just the ruler who'd guided the country for over half a century they were remembering but a beloved grandfather.

As the younger generation paid their respects, their uncle Prince Albert, the reigning sovereign, clasped his hands in an attitude of quiet contemplation.

Alongside him were Caroline and Stephanie, the sisters who have provided him with stalwart support since his father passed away. Next to Caroline stood her husband, Prince Ernst of Hanover, his head bowed in a similar pose to the siblings.

In recent interviews Albert has spoken of his reliance on the two women as he steers the country following the loss of the man Monegasques called "Le Patron". "They both help very much with official duties," he commented. "Caroline is very much the unofficial minister for arts and culture. Obviously for all major events my sisters are here."

And outside the cathedral as the three siblings walked along chatting quietly, it was clear they have found solace in each other's company.

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