Monaco's Prince Rainier clung to life Friday in an intensive care unit, with his doctors unable to say whether the 81-year-old ruler would survive heart, kidney and breathing problems.
Rainier was still hooked up to a respirator in a clinic in the Mediterranean principality, and his state of health "remained worrying," three of his doctors said in a new health bulletin.
The statement indicated that specialists were withholding a prognosis, meaning they are unsure he will recover.
"Because of the fragility of his cardiac, respiratory and kidney functions, the vital prognosis remains reserved," the statement said.
Dr. Jean-Charles Piette, chief of internal medicine at La Pitie Salpetriere hospital in Paris, was asked to study Rainier's case, the bulletin said. He and other specialists decided the prince must continue his current course of treatment.
Rainier was hospitalized more than two weeks ago with a chest infection. His health suddenly worsened Tuesday, and he was transferred to the intensive care unit of Monaco's seaside Cardio-Thoracic Center.
Boyan Christophorov, a professor of internal medecine at Paris V University, said the phrasing of Rainier's medical bulletin suggested that his doctors seriously fear for the prince's life.
"The terms of these releases are carefuly weighed. That the patient's vital prognostic is 'reserved' means that his life is seriously threatened," Christophorov told The Associated Press.
At a service on Thursday evening at Monaco's Sainte Devote church, the Rev. Fabrice Gallo again asked worshippers to pray for Rainier.
"Every hour we turn on the news, hoping to hear something positive," said Nathalie Ponsenard, a Monaco nursery school teacher. She pointed to the flag atop the hilltop royal palace.
"While it's still up, we know he's still alive," she said.
Some residents braced themselves for bad news.
"He's done so much for us, even for the young people," said Melanie Poisson, a 17-year-old high school student. "He's been prince for my whole life. It's hard to imagine Monaco without him."
Rainier has been in and out of the hospital recently. He has a history of heart problems and has lately been plagued by recurring ailments linked to his respiratory tract.
Respirators are often used to lighten the workload of the body while it heals from an infection. However, respiratory infections in the elderly can be deadly.
The prince, who assumed the throne in 1949, is beloved in Monaco for having transformed a Mediterranean state smaller than New York's Central Park into a modern and elegant enclave for the rich. Rainier's movie-star wife, Grace Kelly, died in a car crash in 1982.
Rainier's heir, Crown Prince Albert, 47, and his two daughters, Princess Caroline, 48, and Princess Stephanie, 40, have been at his bedside since he was taken to intensive care.
"Rainier's three children remain at his bedside," said the headline of the daily Monaco Matin, under a photo of their cars.
Prince Albert, who is unmarried, has no children. Monaco changed its succession law in 2002 to allow power to pass from a reigning prince who has no descendants to his siblings. Both of Albert's sisters have children.
JOCELYN GECKER Associated Press