He was the third son of HSH Wilhelm, 2nd Duke of Urach (1864-1928), a German general in the First World War who was briefly chosen as King Mindaugas II of Lithuania. His mother was Amalie (1865-1912), daughter of Karl-Theodor, Duke in Bavaria and a niece of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Amalie's sister was the queen consort of King Albert I of the Belgians. The Urach family are a morganatic branch of the royal family that ruled the Kingdom of Württemberg until 1918. The Urachs lived in Stuttgart and at Lichtenstein Castle.
His father's mother was Princess Florestine of Monaco (1833–98), and he was named Albrecht after her nephew Albert I, Prince of Monaco. His family were the legitimate heirs presumptive to Monaco's throne between 1911 and 1918 (See Monaco Succession Crisis of 1918). Before 1911 his father was intended to inherit Monaco, as the son of his cousin Albert I, Prince of Monaco had no legitimate children. In particular, from 1914 and the First World War, France could not tolerate a possible U-boat base so close to Toulon, and preferred a descent from Louis, who had had a distinguished career in the French army for many years. Louis had to adopt his natural daughter Charlotte to ensure a pro-French succession, and Monaco signed a concessive treaty with France in July 1918. Though he was the third son, according to the Chicago Daily Tribune von Urach was in Paris in March 1930 unsuccessfully trying to persuade the French Foreign Office to accept him as the respectable and legitimate heir of Prince Louis after the recent divorce of Louis' daughter and son-in-law.
Following the German defeat in 1918, Albrecht studied art in Stuttgart under Arnold Waldschmidt and Christian Landenberger, and then in Paris at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in 1927-30, while living on the Île de la Cité, developing an expressionist style. He then exhibited in 1930-32 at the Leicester and Redfern galleries in London, Galerie Bonaparte in Paris and at Blomquist in Oslo, but could not make a living from painting with the start of the Great Depression, and took up freelance photography. His artistic friends included Willi Baumeister and Fernand Léger. His signature on his paintings was usually "AvU". His artistic output resumed in the 1950s.
In April 1934 he was living in Venice, renting a flat from Anna Mahler, and by chance photographed the first unpublicized meeting of Mussolini and Hitler, which was followed by a public rally in the Piazza San Marco. Albrecht turned this scoop into a permanent position as a journalist based in Tokyo from September 1934, covering the Chinese-Japanese war and also the Nomonhan incident for several German newspapers. To become a journalist he joined the Nazi party in 1934. The German military attaché and then ambassador in Tokyo, Eugen Ott, was a family friend and their regular drinking friend was Richard Sorge, the famous Red Army spy.
In 1939 he returned to Europe and was posted to Rome as the Foreign Office liaison between the German and Italian Press, and made friends with Count Ciano. His ally in the Foreign Office was Ernst von Weizsäcker, whose family had worked with Albrecht's family in the past. In 1940 he brought neutral American and Italian journalists to report on the invasion of Norway, and then in 1941 at the start of the invasion of Russia. Following the Tripartite Pact between Germany, Japan and Italy signed in September 1940, he was sent on a secret mission to Japan in May and June 1941 to persuade the Japanese to attack the British in Asia; ostensibly the mission was for the co-operation of the German and Japanese press services. In April 1941 Yosuke Matsuoka agreed a neutrality pact between Japan and Russia. Failed in his mission, he returned on the Trans-Siberian Railway shortly before Russia was invaded. Ciano's diary of 10 March 1942 mentions German pessimism about the war in Russia, and that Prince Alberto von Urach had visited Rome, making "bitter-sweet" comments about Japan, and hinting at the need for an Axis peace with Britain. "Urach also said that the liquidation of Russia still appears to be a very hard task". 11 March: "The Duce was indignant about Urach's declarations".
Seen in Berlin as an expert on East Asia, he spent much of 1939-43 writing about Japan's progress (see below). The 1943 booklet "The secret of Japan's strength" is his best known, selling 800,000 copies, and is of particular interest insofar as someone with a partial dislike for Japan should glorify its martial spirit. Anxious to leave Germany, which was now facing defeat, in early 1944 he succeeded in being appointed press attaché at the German Embassy in Berne, with the rank of Unterkonsul. Here he assisted a group smuggling capital out of Switzerland to the USA via "Banque Charles" in Monaco, where his second cousin Louis II reigned. In May 1945 the embassy staff was expelled to the French border and he was interned.
In 1946-48 von Urach was charged by a German court for creating and broadcasting propaganda in National-Socialist style, and for membership of the Nazi party (see Denazification). He apologized and there was no sanction. His superiors were prosecuted in the Ministries Trial in 1948. In 1947-67 he resumed his career as an artist and freelance journalist.
He was chief press attaché at Mercedes Benz in Stuttgart in 1953-67, where his elder brother Wilhelm was a director. This suited his ability in languages and he travelled widely. He then died of a stroke in 1969 and was buried at Waldenburg.
In July 1931 in Oslo he married Rosemary Blackadder (1901–75), a Scottish journalist and artist, daughter of John Blackadder and wife Anna Wilson, and this morganatic marriage made him ineligible to be Duke (Herzog) of Urach. They had a daughter Marie-Gabrielle, (1932–89; "Mariga") who married Desmond Guinness. Rosemary returned alone to Britain in 1938. In 1943 he remarried to Ute Waldschmidt (1922–84), daughter of Arnold Waldschmidt and wife Olga Schwartz, and they had two children, Peter (1944–77), and Manuela (1945- ) who later married Sergei von Cube. They divorced in 1960. Manuela's daughter Katerina married Jochen Werz, a director at Lenzing AG.thepeerage.com