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September 24, 2013 7:32 am

Albert’s a prince of a fellow

Written by Tom Lawrence

Turns out, Albert’s not such a bad guy.

I guess some people call him “Prince,” “Prince Albert,” “Your Highness,” “His Serene Highness, Prince Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco” or “Prince Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre, Hereditary Prince of Monaco, Marquis of Baux.”

Some people, his wife, sisters and close friends, almost assuredly refer to him as Albert. It just makes things easier. Hey, they might also call him Al or Bert or Bertie. I didn’t get a chance to ask what was the preferred nickname.

The prince was in Wyoming for four days last week. He came to revisit the hunting camp where his namesake, Prince Albert I of Monaco, hung out with Buffalo Bill Cody in 1913.

While he was here, Albert toured Yellowstone on horseback, visited the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, where he planted a tree, attended a luncheon to award a $100,000 prize to two researchers, held a press conference and was the star attraction at the BBCW’s Patrons Ball.

It’s good to rule your own country, but they keep you on schedule, too.

Prince Albert — please, get the “in the can” joke out of your system now so we can move on — wasn’t extremely regal in person. Oh, I mean he was dignified, gracious and seemed very calm and self-assured.

But he was also very soft-spoken, and displayed the stammer that has plagued him during his life. He’s around 5-10 or so, and balding. While he competed in five Winter Olympics in the bobsled, he’s now grown a bit thicker around the middle.

We’re both 55, so I can empathize. Hey, it happens to both princes and paupers.

After his press conference Albert shook hands with some of the media scum that was allowed to question him. I can report he has a firm handshake.

One reporter addressed him as “your serene highness” and then offered a slight bow. I used the term “your highness,” as did a fellow journalist. Two others started their questions without a royal salutation, and no courtiers appeared with daggers to reprimand them.

Albert seemed far more interested in the female reporters, which is both smart on his part and in keeping with his “playboy prince” reputation. After decades of close scrutiny by his countrymen and the international media, Albert finally married two years ago, and he and his wife, Princess Charlene, 35, a former Olympic swimmer from Germany, are reportedly attempting to have a child and an heir to the throne.

Albert has at least two other children from previous relationships. After denying his paternity, DNA tests confirmed he was in fact the father, and he has financially supported both and given them his family name: Grimaldi.

Princess Charlene made no public appearances during Albert’s stay in Cody. It’s unclear if she was even here; they first came to Bonneville, Utah, to see Venturi, a Monaco firm that specializes in clean vehicles, attempt to challenge speed records for high-performance electric vehicles.

The royal couple then traveled to St. Louis so the prince could accept the World Ecology Award and wrap the trip up with a stop in New York, where he will address the United Nations General Assembly today (Tuesday).

This information was provided to us by the team of people who assisted the media. They were wonderfully helpful and did all they could to ensure we got the story and also glimpse at a real-life prince.

Of course, they had to set some limits.

On Friday, Albert and his party rode horses to Pahaska Tepee, Buffalo Bill’s Hunting Lodge, just outside the East Gate of Yellowstone.

I loved this line in the press advisory: “No media allowed to ride with the Prince.”

I should hope not! The very idea.

Albert wrapped up his Wyoming adventure by hobnobbing with the elite at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Patrons Ball. Reporters were allowed to view him welcoming the crowd at the event, which raises several hundred thousand dollars for the BBCW.

Once again, the rules were clear for the media: Keep your place and mind your manners.

“The Prince will welcome everyone from the overlook in the Draper Museum. After that brief ceremony, media are asked to depart as space for the press cannot be accommodated due to the large attendance.”

That only seems right. How can you expect a prince and his fellow partiers to enjoy themselves with nosy, camera- and notepad-packing people like me hanging around?

Still, I think Albert’s probably a pretty nice guy.

When I asked him about his mother, movie legend Grace Kelly, who abandoned her career to become Princess Grace, he became very emotional.

Princess Grace died 31 years ago last week after suffering a stroke while driving on a mountainside road in Monaco. Her loss is still obviously very painful for Albert, and that was touching to witness.

All in all, I’d say he’s a prince of a fellow.

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