A prince falling in love with an actress — the story may sound familiar. And that’s because it has happened before.
Just ask Prince Albert of Monaco, whose late mother Princess Grace was a famous movie star and Oscar-winning actress before marrying Prince Rainier in one of the most celebrated fairytale weddings of all time.
Though he didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps (Albert is married to Princess Charlene, a former Olympic swimmer), he’s no stranger to the media spotlight himself. And when it comes to Prince Harry‘s romance with American actress Meghan Markle, he thinks the couple “are doing a pretty good job so far.”
Bringing anyone into royal circles, navigating the press and mastering protocol, “is a pretty tough act,” he tells PEOPLE. “Especially in the British royal family, which is scrutinized by the press as no one’s been.”
The couple “seem to be having a good deal of success so far,” he says, but “sooner or later, she’s going to have to face the full onslaught.”
Albert’s own life — especially his romance and 2011 wedding to Charlene — were subject to intense press coverage.
“I can’t imagine how that will be on them, on her,” he says. “Being an actress, in a way, gets you a little prepared but nothing really can prepare you for the constant pace of it. Particularly now that the pace has changed so much. It’s hard for anyone to handle.
“It was difficult for Charlene to handle,” he admits. “I can’t imagine the difference now with the increased pace of news and social media.”
But as of yet, Albert says the couple seems to be taking the scrutiny in stride.
“They seem to be doing okay for now,” he says. “The only kind of advice I can offer is the British expression: ‘Keep calm and carry on.’ “
Albert says he and his sisters, Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie, benefitted from having an actress as a mother when it came to preparing to deal with the press attention they’d face throughout their lives.
“Mom said being an actress did prepare you a little,” recalls Albert. “It familiarized you a little with the press. But the press was a little more respectful in those days. The press, mostly the photographers, seems to have changed.”
“Mom taught us that you have to do all you can to protect your private life,” he continues. “But you also have to face the press at some points. When we went on family holidays together, we would take an hour on the first morning and give that to the photographers. We let them have that hour and in return they would let us go on with our lives during the vacation.”
This method, he says, could prove useful to Harry and Meghan.
“Giving them a little time seemed to work then. Maybe it still will.”
It’s a tactic Albert himself could employ later this summer. There will be two foreign visits for his children, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, this August. And the royal twins are already taking after their Olympic swimming mom.
“They’re in the pool a solid two hours in the morning and again in the afternoon,” he says. “I try to make their afternoon session every day.”
Given Princess Charlene’s instruction (as well as her foundation dedicated to water safety) the pair could swim long before they could walk and their aquatic progress has surprised their father.
“Jacques doesn’t want to wear his armbands. The other day he swam eight feet unassisted and Gabriella isn’t far behind him,” he says. “The pool we have at Roc Agel isn’t an infinity pool and he’s able to get himself in and out of the pool without anyone’s assistance.”
Though Albert admits the prospect of his 2-year-old twins taking on the water is worrisome for any parent, he trusts in the skills they’ve already developed.
“They’ve had all sorts of water safety instruction, including the self-survival course when they were 8 months.”