A week of emotionally moving events

The curtain has fallen for Pope John Paul II and Prince Rainier of Monaco and goes up for the civil marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Two funerals and a wedding – not the title of an amusing film but current events, and their consequences. This week saw the curtain fall on personalities who had set their stamp on an era and forged new ways. Pope John Paul II furthered dialogue among churches in pursuit of eventual union, which is on the horizon, however remote. Prince Rainier of Monaco made the principality and its capital Monte Carlo a meeting place for shipowners and tycoons, a tax haven that attracted Aristotle Onassis, bankers and the jet set as well. He ascended the throne at the age of 26 in 1949, as the memories of war faded and people strove to live in peace and comfort. In 1956 he married Grace, heir to the Kelly tire fortune, who had become an actress thanks to her aristocratic beauty and the fine directors she worked for. Their much-photographed wedding, their handsome children – Albert, Caroline and Stephanie – and the car rallies along the corniche of Monte Carlo were like a fairy tale. The girls grew into lively beauties, and Alberto inherited his father’s sporting abilities. While his sisters married, divorced and tried again, he remained single, the bachelor most sought after by the blue bloods of Europe. He came to the Olympic Games in Athens as a torch bearer, choosing to run on Aegina to the Temple of Aphaia. Albert will show what he is made of in the way he rules the principality now that his father has died. The death of Rainier signals the end of one era and the beginning of another. The funeral of Pope John Paul II took place in Rome with a million people in St Peter’s Square and heads of state from around the world; Prince Rainier’s funeral will take place on April 15. And there is a wedding, now without impediments, between Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla Parker-Bowles, divorced and the mother of two children, and his friend since before he met his first wife Diana. They are being married today in a civil ceremony and hymns will be sung at the chapel in Windsor Castle. The couple postponed their wedding, which was to have been held on Friday, the day of the pope’s funeral. At last today we’ll see Camilla as a bride – Camilla who loves horses, dogs, Albinoni and Charles, with or without his throne.

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