"This is not the America I know," Prince Albert exclusively tells PEOPLE

By Peter Mikelbank
January 07, 2021 02:57 PM
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Prince Albert (left) and President Donald Trump
| Credit: Carlos Alvarez/Getty; Sarah Silbiger/Getty

Monaco's Prince Albert says he was "shocked" into disbelief as he watched the violent riots unfold at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

"This is not the America I know — the one I partially grew up in, went to school in. President Trump has to be held accountable," the royal, 62, tells PEOPLE of the Capitol siege, during which one woman was fatally shot and three other people died after having medical emergencies.

Monaco's sovereign — the son of the late American actress Grace Kelly, who became Princess Grace after marrying Prince Rainier in 1956 — was partly raised in the U.S., including the four years he studied at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Speaking exclusively to PEOPLE on Thursday, he admits sadness and "anger after these tragic events of yesterday."

"I was up at our country house, Roc Agel, so as soon as I put on the news before going to bed, there it was — live from the streets of Washington," he says. "It's just unbelievable. I'm still in shock, but at the same time, I'm not totally surprised because, unfortunately, this is where we were heading."

"My immediate reaction was shock. My wife [Princess Charlene] had already retired and I told her afterward. It was shock and disbelief and then it kind of quickly turned into disgust, really," he continues. "But also anger about how this could have happened and how this was fueled by President Trump."

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco

As one of the few world leaders who spoke out against Donald Trump both before and after he was elected, Prince Albert says, "I felt months ago that there would be big problems whichever way the election went. It is a very somber moment, not only in the U.S. but in contemporary world history: a president still in office who has, directly and indirectly, spurred a revolt like this. I agree with those who have said that President Trump has to be held accountable for this."

Speaking to PEOPLE last month, the prince expressed hope that the obstacles and challenges of the November election would resolve.

"We've never seen anything like this before," Albert continues. "It's a big change in mentality and a shift in values. This vast adhesion to these theories, this blind following of someone who is clearly not well, who is delusional. How we got to this point is what's troubling me."

Rioters breach Capitol
| Credit: Win McNamee/Getty

Prince Albert says he's concerned that healing from this week's events will be difficult.

"It's going to be a very long process to fix this," he says. "It will, I fear, have to go on well beyond President Biden's mandate. It's probably the work of a generation to try to return to some basic values of decency and restore respect for the rules which govern any law-abiding country."