Monday, April 19, 2021

Price Philip's parents: Alice and Andrew




In her journal, for February 25, 1885, Queen Victoria described the birth of her fourth great-grandchild, a daughter. 

"Woke before 7. Hearing that Victoria had had a bad night, I got up & went over to see her.  She was very suffering. I had some breakfast, & then went back remaining with dear Victoria on & off, till at length, at 20 m to 5 in the afternoon, the child, a little girl, was born. The relief was great for poor Victoria had had such a long hard time, which always makes me anxious. How strange & indeed affecting, it was, to see her lying in the same room & in the same bed, in which she herself was born.  Good Ludwig was most helpful & attentive, hardly leaving Victoria for a moment. The Baby is very small, thin & dark. I held it for a few moments in my arms.  It is curious that it should be born on dear Alice's 2nd birthday, which Helen specially came to spend here. As all was going well with dear Victoria, & the evening very fine, I took a short drive with Ly Southampton & Horatia S.  On coming in, went again to Victoria, who had rested & was quite composed & happy.  Ludwig was radiant..."

Ludwig was of course Prince Louis.  The little Princess celebrating her 2nd birthday was Princess Alice of Albany,  the daughter of the late Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, and his wife,  Princess Helen of Waldeck und Pyrmont.   Alice and Princess Victoria were first cousins, both granddaughters of Queen Victoria.

Princess Alice 


Princess Alice died on December 14, 1878, the same day as her father, Prince Albert.   The Prince Consort's death in 1861 was attributed to typhoid fever.  Alice succumbed to diphtheria, a month after the disease also took the life of her youngest daughter, Marie.

Princess Victoria, the eldest child of Queen Victoria's third child, Princess Alice, and Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and By Rhine, had married her father's first cousin, Prince Louis of Battenberg.  This was not a dynastic marriage but a love match.   Prince Louis' father, Prince Alexander of Hesse and By Rhine's marriage to a Polish Countess Julie von Hauke was a morganatic marriage.  This meant Alexander's rank and titles could not be shared with his wife or children.

Julie was given the title Princess of Battenberg with the style of Serene Highness, a rank shared by her children.  Victoria was a Grand Ducal Highness.  

Louis and Victoria knew each other since childhood.  The Queen had invited Victoria and her sister, Ella, to join her at Balmoral in the spring of 1883.  Ella told her father: "If Victoria does not go to Scotland she will become engaged to Louis Battenberg."

Prince Louis declined an invitation to attend his first cousin, Emperor Alexander II's Coronation, which took place in May 1883.   Alexander's mother,  Marie Alexandrovna, was the sister of Grand Duke Ludwig IV and Prince Alexander. 

The engagement between Victoria and Louis was announced that June.   Louis, already a naturalized British subject and an officer in the Royal Navy, and Victoria were married in Darmstadt on April 30, 1884.

The birth took place in the Tapestry Room in Windsor Castle, the same room where the infant princess' mother, Victoria, was born in 1863.    The new parents and their infant daughter returned to Darmstadt at the end of March.

Queen Victoria arrived in Darmstadt on April 23.  She would be present for the Confirmation of her grandson, Hereditary Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig. This ceremony was  held in the early afternoon.  After a lunch held in the Neues Palais Dining room, the Queen rested until shortly before 4 p.m., when the family again gathered in the Dining room for the baptism of Prince and Princess Louis's first child.   The infant princess was given the names Victoria Alice Elisabeth Julia Marie.


Queen Victoria, Princess Beatrice,  Princess Victoria, and Princess Alice

The godparents included Queen Victoria, Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and By Rhine, Prince Alexander of Hesse and By Rhine, Princess Julie of Battenberg, Grand Duchess Elisabeth of Russia, and Countess Marie of Erbach-Schönburg.   In other words, little Alice's great-grandmother, her three surviving grandparents, and her maternal and paternal aunts, respectively.

Alice's early years were spent in Darmstadt, Schloss Heiligenberg, London and Malta. as her father moved up the ladder in the Royal Navy.   She was four years old when Victoria gave birth to a second daughter, Louise (1889-1965).   Another four-year interval followed when George was born (1892-1937).  A fourth child, Louis, known as Dickie, was born in June 1900.




It was her paternal grandmother Princess Julie who noticed that Alice was having problems hearing and took her to a specialist who diagnosed congenital deafness.   Alice did learn to speak and lipread in English, German, and Greek.




In July 1893, she was one of Princess May of Teck's bridesmaids at her wedding to the future King George V, the son of King Edward VII, who succeeded his mother, Queen Victoria, in January 1901.

Edward's Coronation was scheduled to take in June 1902.  Among the royal guests were Crown Prince Constantine and Crown Princess Sophie of Greece,  accompanied by two of Constantine's brothers,  Prince George and Prince Andrew, then only 20.   Sophie was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, while Constantine and his brothers were the nephews of Queen Alexandra.  Her younger brother, Wilhelm, had been elected King of the Hellenes in 1863 and had taken the name George.

It was during this family gathering that Princess Alice met and fell in love with Prince Andrew.

King Edward was ill with peritonitis and underwent emergency surgery, thus postponing the Coronation until August.   Alice and her mother returned to Darmstadt in early July, awaiting word of the new Coronation date.   It was also apparent that Alice was 'much in love' with Andrew.   Victoria acknowledged that Andrew would be her son-in-law.

Alice and Victoria returned to London in August for the rescheduled Coronation, which took place on August 9.   In the carriage procession to Abbey,  Princess Victoria and Princess Alice were in the same carriage as Prince Andrew and his brother George.


 

Andrew and Alice had a few days in London to get to know each other before Alice and her mother returned to Germany.   The couple would not see each other for ten months due to Andrew's military service in Greece and the Battenbergs moved to London in January 1903 as Prince Louis had been appointed Director of Naval Intelligence.




Their engagement was announced on May 10, 1903, two days after Andrew arrived in London.  The wedding date was set for October 7 in Darmstadt.   The Princess of Wales' formidable Aunt Augusta was not impressed when she learned that Queen Alexandra would be attending the wedding.

"Why?" she wondered in a letter to May. "There is surely no reason for it, a Battenberg, daughter of an illegitimate father, he the fourth son of a newly baked King!

Oh, the irony of Augusta's words especially to May, whose father, Duke Franz, was the scion of a morganatic as well.


The couple was married in a civil ceremony on October 6.  Two religious ceremonies, Lutheran and Orthodox, took place the next day.  The Protestant service took place in the chapel in the Alte Schloss.  The Russian Orthodox wedding was celebrated at the Russian chapel on Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt.

Hugo Vickers notes in his excellent biography, Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece,  King Edward VII wanted the couple to have a fourth ceremony at the British Legation as Alice was a British subject, but "the young couple demurred."

Alice and Andrew were the parents of four daughters:  Margarita (1905-1981), Theodora  (1906-1969), Cecile (1911-1937) and Sophie (1914-2001), and one son, Philip (1921-2021).





Prince Andrew (1882-1944) was estranged from his wife and family when he died in Monaco. 







All images Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection

Princess Alice died on December 5, 1969, at Buckingham Palace.  She was originally interred in the Royal Crypt at St. George's Chapel until her wish to be buried at Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem could be fulfilled until August 3, 1988, when Alice's remains were brought to the church and buried in a crypt under the church.

In October 1994,  Alice's two surviving children, Princess Sophie and Prince Philip traveled to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as Alice had been named as Righteous Among Nations as she hid the Cohen family, who were Jewish,  in her Athens home during the German occupation.

Prince Philip told the New York Times at the time:   "I suspect that it never occurred to her that her action was in any way special. She was a person with a deep religious faith, and she would have considered it to be a perfectly natural human reaction to fellow beings in distress."

During this next week, I will post on Philip's four sisters.  I have selected photos from my collection to use in the posts.

If you liked this post ... I would love a latte






 

3 comments:

Unknown said...

India hicks, Lord Louis grand
daughter bears a striking rembelence to her great aunt Alice, esp in the family photo of her standing.

Bill said...

Alexander III had coronation in 1983.

Bill said...

Alexander III had coronation in 1983.