Eric Mathon/Le Palais Princier/Monte-Carlo-SBM
August 01, 2018 12:53 PM

Having “lightened” his July schedule under doctor’s orders, Monaco’s Prince Albert is looking forward to getting away. And like any busy dad (of twins!), he’s looking forward to lying beneath a palm tree, recharging his batteries and spending time with his children.

“I had a cough,” Albert, 60, tells PEOPLE exclusively, downplaying the lung infection which had doctors advise him to recently cut back his travel and workload. The problem became apparent following a visit to the Marine Biology Labs in Cape Cod on July 9, and persisted on his return to Monaco, he says.

Diagnosed with a “minor lung infection,” the royal had to cancel his schedule for 10 days, restricting his public appearances to only two appearances (including his annual opening of the Red Cross Ball last Friday) through July.

“Everything is almost back to normal now,” he says. “I was a little dragged out and tired. It’s been a busy year — and an especially busy May and June with a lot of different appointments, a lot of trips.

Eric Mathon/Le Palais Princier/Monte-Carlo-SBM

“Ten hours of meetings a day is pretty much normal for me, and then you add little trips here and there plus three or four events an evening. Do that for a couple of months and it does tend to become too much after a while.”

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As a remedy for ”fatigue,” the prince is preparing to head out on prolonged summer vacation with his wife, Princess Charlene, and their twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella.

This will be their first “long-distance” family vacation.

“We’re going pretty far away,” the prince says. Indicating it will be a tropical destination, he explains the holiday is meant to be a “restful” break.

Prince Jacques
Eric Mathon/Courtesy of Palais Princier
Princess Gabriella
Eric Mathon/Courtesy of Palais Princier

“It’ll be a swimming and marine environment vacation. We’ll make one stop along the way because otherwise it’s a pretty long flight for the kids. We’re going way west and I’m really looking forward to it because it’s gonna be great and I certainly need a break.”

When asked if going on holiday with two 3 1/2-year-old twins can be characterized as “restful” (especially after Princess Charlene said the twins have “too much energy!”), Albert says, laughing: “Listen, I already take a couple of hours off each day to go swimming with them, so I pretty much know what’s in store for me. Believe me though, being with them beats a three-hour cabinet meeting anytime.”

After their return, the prince will resume full activities and promote environmental awareness with trips to Finland’s University of the Arctic and China in September.

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“I have a pretty extensive visit to China. The main focus is the opening of an exhibit in the Forbidden City of art pieces from the Palace, but I’ll be meeting with government officials and I have a few meetings outside Beijing.” (The latter concern several different programs which are ongoing between local Chinese NGOs and the Prince’s Foundation.)

During the visit, Prince Albert will inspect specific environmental initiatives including preservation of the endangered Anwar tiger and a clean water project.

“The Chinese are moving in a great direction now on most environmental issues including clean air and water. They’re much more active than they were before,” he says.

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