PARIS -- Monaco's new ruler, Prince Albert II, acknowledged having fathered an illegitimate son with an Air France flight attendant and urged respect for the toddler's privacy, his lawyer said yesterday.
In his first public remarks since French media broke the story weeks ago, Albert said he is the father of Alexandre, now almost 2 years old. Nicole Coste, a former flight attendant originally from the African nation of Togo, is the mother.
The prince wanted to face up to his responsibilities, said a statement released by Albert's lawyer, Thierry Lacoste.
''That's why he recognized the child and hopes that he can live out his childhood and adolescence in a calm and protected setting, in strict isolation from the media," said the statement.
Albert is the son of the late Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly, who exchanged Hollywood stardom for the life of a princess.
The 47-year-old prince, a sports enthusiast who has always closely guarded his privacy, took over royal powers in the tiny Riviera principality shortly before his father's death in April. He will formally assume the throne on Tuesday.
Albert, who also gave an interview to Le Monde newspaper, stressed that Alexandre would never rise to the throne.
''The rules of the constitution are very clear on the subject," he said. The treaty says a child must be born in wedlock to assume power of the Mediterranean principality.
The prince said he regretted that Paris Match magazine went public with the story just weeks after the death of his father.
Albert waited to comment on the media reports until after the official mourning period, which ended yesterday.
''I find it saddening, shocking, that this affair -- which should have remained strictly private -- was made public in that way, and at that time," he said.
In a cover story in early May, Paris Match alleged that Albert had fathered a son with Coste. Coste said she met Albert on a flight in July 1997, leading to the birth of Alexandre in August 2003.