Wendy Benchley and Prince Albert II of Monaco. (Photo by Jeffrey Dubinsky for the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards)

Even in a town full of titles (how many deputy undersecretaries does one government really need?), a moniker like “his serene highness” gets attention.

And so on Thursday night, the audience — which included a smattering of senators and other bigwigs — listened as Monaco’s Prince Albert II spoke after accepting a top honor at the annual Peter Benchley Ocean Awards, named after the creator of “Jaws.”

The one-time bad boy bachelor has morphed into a downright proper royal, complete with a pair of just christened twins who’ve ensured his family’s line of succession in his bite-sized nation, devotion to environmental causes, and a knack for sweeping but soft-spoken oratory. “Oceans, in their beauty and mystery, unite human beings whatever their situation, nationality, or faith,” he said in his acceptance speech.

We caught up with HSH briefly at the dinner following the awards at the Carnegie Institute for Science, where he munched on herbed risotto (definitely no Chilean sea bass for this bunch) and huddled with Benchley’s widow, Wendy Benchley. One question for the prince: What’s the obsession with royal babies about?

“For us, I think the people are reassured, because they mean my family will continue its role in our country,” he said. “And in some ways, I think people feel like we are part of their families, too.”

The proceedings were mostly sincere; but Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) delivered the one laugh line of the night, telling the prince that his mother, the late American movie star turned-princess, Grace Kelly, had been an inspiration to fellow Irish Catholics. “She made it possible to be Irish and royalty — it’s not an oxymoron,” he said.

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