PRINCE Albert of Monaco, for decades the understudy groomed to reign over the tiny Riviera principality run by his family for seven centuries, is a shy, passionate sportsman often seen as a reluctant heir.
Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre, Marquis of Baux, is the son of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, who exchanged Hollywood stardom for the life of a princess in a fairy-tale setting.
Albert, 47, is well-travelled, multi-lingual and, in recent years, has been Monaco's top ambassador.
A sports enthusiast and passionate bobsledder, he took part in the last five Winter Olympics and has headed Monaco's Olympic Committee since 1994.
Albert has remained un- married and childless, which resulted in a constitutional change to continue the Grimaldi dynasty.