From exile in an asylum where she was treated by Sigmund Freud to protecting Jewish families during World War II, Prince Philip’s mother seemed to live a thousand lives in her 84 years.
Princess Alice of Battenberg was born Victoria Alice Elizabeth Julia Mary on February 25, 1885 at Windsor Castle in the presence of her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
She was raised as an English princess, although her parents, Princess Victoria of Hesse and Rhine and Prince Louis of Battenberg, were very German.
Queen Victoria with her daughter, Princess Beatrice, along with the queen’s granddaughter, Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt, and her eldest son, Prince Alice of Battenberg, in 1886.
She was raised as an English princess, although her parents, Princess Victoria of Hesse and Rhine and Prince Louis of Battenberg, were German.
The Greek royal family was exiled shortly after the birth of Princess Alice’s youngest and only son, Prince Philip, in 1921. Mother and son are shown arm in arm.
Alice was one of four siblings. Her sister Louise later became Queen of Sweden and her brother Louis ‘Dickie’ Mountbatten, later Lord Mountbatten, was Prince Philip’s uncle, Prince Charles’s mentor and advisor to the Royal Family.
The Battenbergs were asked to change their surname to ‘Mountbatten’ during the First World War to abandon the German connection.
Alice was congenitally deaf from birth, but could speak clearly and read lips in several languages. Photographs of her as a young woman, often with her hair up and in lace dresses, suggested beauty.
While at the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, she met and fell in love with Prince Andrew, a younger son of the king of Greece; a year later, the couple married.
When the Balkan Wars began in 1912, Prince Andrew was reinstated in the army, while Prince Alice assisted in the war effort by establishing field hospitals.
Later in 1913, King George V, the late Queen’s grandfather, awarded her the Royal Red Cross for her hard work.
By 1914, Alice had given birth to four daughters, while a revolution was brewing in Greece, where she lived at the time. Shortly after the birth of her youngest and only child, Prince Philip, in 1921, the Greek royal family was exiled.
When he was just a small child, the future Duke of Edinburgh was placed on a makeshift cot (an orange box) while his family fled to Paris on a British warship.
Once in France, they lived on alms from their relatives. The stressful period caused stress for Alice, whose ardent religious beliefs had gradually become more eccentric over the years.
In 1930 he heard voices and believed he was having intimate relationships with Jesus and other religious figures. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia before being treated by Sigmund Freud in a Berlin clinic.
Following the renowned psychoanalyst’s advice, her ovaries were x-rayed, a treatment said to cure her frustrated sexual desires.
Alice met and fell in love with Prince Andrew, a younger son of the King of Greece, at the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. Husband and wife appear together in 1915.
Prince Alice with her husband, Prince Andrew of Greece, on their wedding day in 1903.
Photographs of her as a young woman, often with her hair up, showed her beauty.
Princess Alice of Battenberg stands alongside Queen Mary, second from left in the front row in this family portrait to mark the wedding day of the late Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 1947.
Princess Alice appears at London airport in 1965. Two years later, the colonels took control of Greece in a military coup. Alice refused to leave until Prince Philip sent a plane and a special request from the Queen to bring her home.
It is believed that this treatment caused an early menopause. YesHe was admitted to a Swiss sanatorium where she remained imprisoned for two and a half years.
Prince Philip was only nine years old when Princess Alice was locked up. They had taken him to a picnic with his grandmother and when he got home his mother was gone.
Prince Andrew effectively abandoned his wife to live in the French Riviera with his lover, despite never divorcing.
He died in 1944 in Monaco.
During this time, the young Prince Philip spent his time at boarding school in England and Scotland, and during holidays he passed from one relative to another, including his uncle Lord Mountbatten.
When her mother finally left the sanatorium in 1932, she wandered among modest German B&Bs.
Mother and son were not reunited until 1937, when they met at the funeral of Philip’s sister Cecilie, who died in a plane crash at the age of 26.
At that time, Alicia wanted 16-year-old Felipe to return to Athens with her, after the restoration of the Greek monarchy in 1935. But Felipe already had his future engraved in the Royal Navy, so his mother was left alone in Greece. .
In 1941, Alice was stranded in Nazi-occupied Greece. Lord Mountbatten sent her food parcels which she gave to those in need.
During the war, he was instrumental in helping several Jews escape from Greece. Alice even hid the Jewish Cohen family on the top floor of her house, a few meters from the Gestapo headquarters.
When the Gestapo became suspicious and interrogated the princess, she used her deafness as an excuse not to answer their questions and prevented them from entering her property.
After the war, diamonds from Alice’s tiara were used so that Philip could give a ring to Princess Elizabeth, the future queen.
Alice sold the rest of her jewelry to create her own religious order, the Christian Brotherhood of Martha and Mary, in 1949, becoming a nun.
She then built a convent and orphanage in a poor suburb of Athens.
Royalty remained in Greece until 1967, when there was a Greek military coup. Alice refused to leave the country until Prince Philip sent a plane and a special request from the Queen to bring her home.
She spent the last years of her life living at Buckingham Palace with her son and daughter-in-law before dying in December 1969, aged 84.
The final months of her life were fictionalized in the third season of Netflix’s The Crown, played by Jane Lapotaire. The series incorrectly suggested that she gave a revealing interview with The Guardian, covering issues about her mental health condition.
She spent the last years of her life at Buckingham Palace with her son and daughter-in-law before dying in December 1969, aged 84.
Prince William photographed during a visit to St Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church in Jerusalem to pay his respects at the grave of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, in June 2018.
Shortly before his death, he wrote a heartbreaking letter to his only son that read: “Dear Philip, be brave and remember that I will never leave you and that you will always find me when you need me most.” All my devoted love, your old mom.
In 1994, 25 years after Alice’s death, her son attended a ceremony in Jerusalem to honor his mother, who is buried in a crypt in Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives.
In honor of her bravery during the war, when she saved her friends, the Cohen family, from certain death, she was awarded the title Righteous Among the Nations.
Prince Philip said: “I suspect it never occurred to him that his action was special in any way.” He was a person with a deep religious faith and would have considered it a completely human action towards other human beings in distress.’