Once Again, Mourning Bells Toll in Monaco

updated 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

For two days rain cast a pall over the tiny Mediterranean principality. Then, even when the sun broke through, the sybaritic statelet of beaches and casinos remained uncharacteristically somber. Its playgrounds were empty, and a lone fishing boat plied the glass-smooth sea. Monaco had dressed itself in mourning for the funeral of Stefano Casiraghi, the 30-year-old husband of its beloved Princess Caroline, who had died in a speedboat accident three days before.

In 1982, at Princess Grace's funeral, Prince Rainier faltered and Caroline supported him. Now the roles were reversed. As Caroline descended from a dark-blue Mercedes to climb the 15 flower-bedecked steps of Monaco's Saint-Pierre cathedral, she seemed to stumble. This time it was the father who steadied the daughter.

Before entering the 19th-century Roman Catholic cathedral, Caroline, clutching a white handkerchief against her black dress, stared numbly at Stefano's mahogany coffin and shook her head slowly, her face gaunt under sunglasses and a black mantilla. Inside, the four members of Monaco's ruling Grimaldi family—Rainier, Caroline, Prince Albert and Princess Stephanie—each placed a small bouquet on the casket and then took their places together in the front row. Across the aisle sat Casiraghi's Milanese family. Among the 1,600 in attendance were the rich and the famous of Europe—designers Karl Lagerfeld and Marc Bohan, actor Alain Delon, Danielle Mitterrand, wife of the French President, and a host of ambassadors and government officials.

Archbishop Joseph Sardou, who had baptized each of the couple's three children (but whose Church had refused to recognize the union because of Caroline's earlier marriage with Philippe Junot), spoke of Casiraghi's untimely passing. 'The brutality of his death adds to our pain," he said. Then, addressing Caroline, he added that her three children, who were left home, would have "a double need for you now."

After the Requiem Mass, members of the immediate family followed the coffin through a solemn honor guard to a private chapel where Stefano was buried in his red-and-white racing suit. Later, several of Stefano's competitors took a boat to the spot where he was killed and dropped a wreath and flowers into the sea.

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