Thursday, December 5, 2019

Philip's mother, Princess Andrew dead at 84

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December 5, 1969


Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died today at Buckingham Palace, reports the New York Times.   She was 84 years old.

The Princess had been in ill health for some time. Since the military coup d'état in Greece in 1967, she had been living in a "small suite of rooms" at Buckingham Palace.

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Princess Victoria Alice Elisabeth Julia Marie of Battenberg was born on February 25, 1885 at Windsor Castle, the first child of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria Alberta Elisabeth Mathilde Marie of Hesse and by Rhine, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.   Her second name was in honor of her maternal grandmother, Princess Alice, the third child and second daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who died from diphtheria  on  December 14, 1878,  worn out after carrying  for several of her children who had become ill from the disease.  The youngest of the late Princess Alice's children, Princess Marie, succumbed from the disease a few weeks before her mother. 

She was baptized in Darmstadt on April 25, 1885.  Her godparents were her three surviving grandparents, Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by Rhine, Prince Alexander of Hesse and Julia, Princess of Battenberg,  her aunts, Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia and Princess Marie of Erbach-Schönberg and Queen Victoria.

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 The young princess spent her childhood in London, Jugenheim, near Darmstadt and Malta, where her father, who served in the Royal Navy, was stationed. 

Alice was diagnosed as deaf when she was child and she learned to lip read and speak in English and German.   Shortly before her 16th birthday, she was confirmed in the Anglican church.

In 1893,  Alice was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding of Princess May of Teck and Prince George, Duke of York, second in line to the British throne.

It was in 1902  at the Coronation of Alice's great-uncle King Edward VII where she met Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the fourth son of King George I and Queen Olga.   King George was the younger brother of Edward's consort, Queen Alexandra.

Princess Alice of Battenberg and Prince Andrew were married in a civil ceremony at Darmstadt on October 6, 1903.  Two religious ceremonies, a Lutheran service followed by a Greek Orthodox wedding at the Russian Chapel in Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt.

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Alice and Andrew settled in Greece, where he continued his military career, until King Constantine I was forced to abdicate in 1917 and the Greek royal family went into exile.

Princess Alice gave birth to five children, four daughters, Margarita (1905-1981), the wife of Gottfried, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg,  Theodora (1906-1969) who married Berthold, Margrave of Baden,  Cecile (1911-1937), who married her mother's first cousin, Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, and Sophie (1914-2001) who was married twice, first to Prince Christoph of Hesse, and after his death, Prince Georg Wilhelm of Hanover, and one son, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1921), who in 1947 married the future Queen Elizabeth II.

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In the war against Turkey in 1922,  Prince Andrew was sought out as a scapegoat for Greece's failure.  He was arrested but was saved from "foreign intercession."  Prince Andrew was banished from Greece. He and his family settled in Paris.

By the late 1920s,  Andrew and Alice's marriage was in trouble as Andrew sought out other female companionship,  Alice, who had converted to Orthodoxy a few years after her marriage, began to suffer from mental health issues and was in and out of mental hospitals for most of the 1930s.

Prince Andrew died in Monte Carlo in 1944.  During the second world war, Alice returned to live in Greece, where she took great risk to hide Rachel Cohen, a Jewish widow, and her five children, from the Gestapo.

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After Greece's liberation, future Prime Minister Harold Macmillan visited Athens where he met with Alice.  He noted that she was "living in humble, not to say somewhat squalid conditions.

In 1949,  Alice founded a monastic society of Martha and Mary, which was based on the nursing order founded by her late Aunt Elizabeth, who had been killed by the Bolshevik, in 1918.  Although she would wear a nun's habit for the rest of her life,  Alice never took vows.  She wanted to train sisters to care for the poor and the sick. But the organization never received enough "suitable candidate" for the sisterhood,  Alice eventually had to give up her plans for the nursing order.

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Until the fall of the Greek monarchy in 1967, Alice lived in a small apartment in Athens.  She often spent time with her daughter's families in Germany and England to see her son, Philip. 

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Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark is survived by her daughter, Sophie, Princess Georg Wilhelm of Hanover, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and her younger brother,  Louis, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


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A private funeral service will be held next week at St. George's Chapel.  The British royal family will observe one week of family mourning.



1 comment:

John said...

I bought the Vickers book on her based on you mentioning how good it was. Superb book, very informative, I loved every page.