Known to many as a fixture of the tabloids in the 1980s and 1990s, Prince Albert II of Monaco was in San Diego recently to accept an award for what has become his passion this decade, the environment.
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography gave Prince Albert II the second Roger Revelle Prize, which is named after the Scripps scientist widely credited with discovering and raising awareness about global warming and climate change.
“I committed myself a long time, because of family history and ties to get better acquainted with issues concerning our planet,” the prince said in a lecture to students at the University of California, San Diego. “I owe that not only to my parents but to my great-great-grandfather Prince Albert I.”
Prince Albert I was an early supporter of sciences like oceanography. In 2005, Albert II retraced a journey his great-great-grandfather had taken to look at glaciers in Norway. The pictures the current prince took showed how much the glaciers had melted.
In 2006, the prince created the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which supports environmental causes. Earlier this year, Albert II took a trip to Antarctica and traveled to international science stations around the continent, in an attempt to learn more about global warming and raise awareness of the issue.
In an interview before the prize ceremony, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Director Dr. Tony Haymet said his organization wanted to honor Albert II primarily because of the Monaco Declaration. In January of this year, Albert II gathered more than 150 marine biologists in his country to discuss findings about what high acidity counts in the ocean were doing to marine life. They published the results as the Monaco Declaration.
“It was the first time a lot of the world appreciated the severity of the problem,” Haymet said.
Albert II became sovereign prince of Monaco in 2005 after his father, Prince Rainier III passed away. His mother was actress Grace Kelly.
For years, the prince was widely known for dating a string of Hollywood actresses, and for several paternity scandals (he has two children out of wedlock). In addition to the Revelle Prize, Prince Albert II was in Southern California for the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Awards in Beverly Hills, which was honoring his late mother.
In San Diego Friday, however, the environment took center stage. Actress Mariel Hemingway was scheduled to introduce the prince, but she had to cancel due to an illness, removing all the Hollywood flair from the evening.
The prize ceremony consisted of a lecture to students at UCSD, which included a film about the prince’s trip to Antarctica, followed by an awards dinner.
This was the second Revelle Prize ever given, the first one went to former Vice President Al Gore in March. The prize consists of a personal keepsake provided by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Prince Albert II’s prize was seashells that Revelle himself had studied to prove the theory of global warming, mounted in a glass case.
In his speech to students, Albert II paid tribute to the scientists whose studies have raised awareness about climate change.
“Seeing such researchers coming together across border and continents, give us cause for hope,” he said. “(But) we should not be lulled by these initial victories into believing that the battles and war have been won.”
He called on all nations, big and small, to look at their roles in climate change, and what they can each do to stop it.
“States, international organizations and corporations, now see their interests converging around this common mobilization,” the prince said. “This is our only chance for survival.”