The royal dad, 60, is unveiling the new restoration of his mother’s Philadelphia home. The house was built in 1925 by Grace’s parents, John Brenden and Margaret Major Kelly, and is where they raised their four children: Peggy, Kell, Grace and Lizanne.
“She seemed to have a very happy childhood, and it was a lot of games, a lot of fun things that were happening there,” Prince Albert tells PEOPLE, “and it felt like a real family home. It was a real place of gathering and rejoicing.”
When Grace — an Oscar-winning superstar who left her acting career after marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956 — returned to Philadelphia as a royal mom, the home continued to be a joyful refuge.
“It was always a great experience,” Albert says of visiting Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore with his mother and two sisters, Princess Caroline and Princess Stéphanie. “It was a sense of freedom that probably wouldn’t have had in other places. In those days it was not even talk of any security, so we would run off with our cousins on the beach or on the boardwalk. And when we needed to be picked up we called home and someone would come and pick us up.”
Of the current American royal bride-to-be, Prince Albert — a father of four who is currently raising 3-year-old twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella with wife Princess Charlene — says he has not yet met Meghan Markle but sends his best wishes to Meghan and her fiancé, Prince Harry. (He will not be attending the wedding.)
“Things evolve in different ways and of course in great ways,” Albert says of how times have changed from his mother’s day to today. “I think [Harry and Meghan’s marriage] brings a sort of more open and more inclusive probably and also more relaxed [sensability]. I really wish Prince Harry and Meghan the best of marriages and a lot of happiness.”
The Kelly home’s 2017 restoration was spearheaded by Prince Albert’s maternal cousins, including John B. Kelly III, Susan Kelly von Medicus and her son, William von Medicus.
Many of the home’s original details were restored to their original condition, and family memorabilia can be seen throughout. Inside a linen closet door, visitors can see the heights of all the children as they grew — including Rinkles the dog.
The newly refurbished house will be used for family celebrations, exchange programs with the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco and to help the efforts of the family foundations, Prince Albert 2 Foundation- USA, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA and Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation-USA.