Prince Rainier III was reunited in death with his beloved Princess Grace yesterday in Monaco's cathedral, with an emotional and pomp-filled...

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MONACO — Prince Rainier III was reunited in death with his beloved Princess Grace yesterday in Monaco’s cathedral, with an emotional and pomp-filled funeral at the site where the two began their fairy-tale marriage nearly half a century ago.

Their children — heir Prince Albert II and Princesses Caroline and Stephanie — followed the funeral cortege with faces frozen in grief from Monaco’s royal palace to the Romanesque-style cathedral.

The only sound across the tiny, sun-splashed principality was the slow tolling of bells for Europe’s longest-serving monarch, who died April 6 at the age of 81.

The fabled Monte Carlo casino was closed, as were other businesses, and security was tight as the funeral attracted more than half a dozen heads of state and dignitaries from some 60 countries. They included French President Jacques Chirac, Irish President Mary McAleese, Belgium’s King Albert II, Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia and royalty from Sweden, Luxembourg and elsewhere.

They gathered at the same site where Rainier and the former Grace Kelly were married in 1956 — and where she was buried in 1982 after a car crash.

They were an “an exceptional couple, united by the heart and spirit” and Rainier bore “with dignity the terrible ordeal of the brutal death of his wife,” Archbishop Bernard Barsi said in his eulogy.

Rainier, who never remarried, often cut a lonely figure in his later years. It was said that he never recovered from a broken heart.

The royals, nobles and other VIPs who flew in for the funeral underscored how he helped overcome the Riviera playground’s reputation as a “sunny place for shady people” and a haven for tax evasion, money laundering and gambling, and oversaw its modernization.

Barsi said Rainier was affectionately known as the “builder prince” who oversaw Monaco’s transformation.

“For all of us, the prince was, of course, the sovereign, but he was also a friend, a member of the family,” Barsi said. “His family cries for him.”

Tears were shed across Monaco, where many of Rainier’s subjects looked to him as a father figure.

Prince Albert and his sisters blinked back tears as Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” mournfully echoed through the white-stone cathedral. The same dramatic passage had been played at their mother’s funeral.

Princess Stephanie, slumped in grief, at times turned toward her siblings, their eyes lowered.

The funeral procession began in the palace, perched on a cliff over the principality.

Members of the 170-strong royal household first bore Rainier’s coffin from the palace’s 17th-century Palatine Chapel where he had lain in state since his death from heart, kidney and breathing problems.

In accordance with Rainier’s wishes, soldiers from the Prince’s Company of Carabineers carried his coffin out of the palace from its Gate of Honor, which was closed symbolically after Rainier’s body was carried out.

Family members walked behind the coffin, which was draped in a white-and-red flag bearing the Grimaldi family’s coat of arms.

Rainier’s 6 ½-year-old dog, Odin, a present for the 50th year of his reign, formed part of the funeral cortege, limping slightly.

The cathedral later was closed to the public for Rainier’s burial in the family crypt beside his wife at a private service last night.