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Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark (June 22, 1911 –November 16, 1937) was the third child and daughter of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg and thus a sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She was born at the summer estate of the Greek Royal Family at Tatoi, fifteen kilometres north of Athens.

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Cecilie of Greece and Denmark

Her mother was the daughter of Prince Louis of Battenberg (a grandson of Grand Duke Ludwig II of Hesse-Darmstadt) and Princess Victoria of Hesse and By Rhine, daughter of Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by Rhine (another grandson of Grand Duke Ludwig II of Hesse-Darmstadt) and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom (second daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha).

Although her given name was Cecilie, she was known to her family as Cécile. Cecilie was baptised at Tatoi on July 2, 1911. Her godparents were King George V of the United Kingdom, Grand Duke Ernst-Ludwig of Hesse and By Rhine, Prince Nicholas of Greece and Duchess Vera of Württemberg. Through her father Cecilie was a grandchild of King George I of Greece and his wife Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna of Russia (a granddaughter of Czar Nicholas I of Russia).

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The family of Prince and Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark. (Cecilie is fifth from the left and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is the little boy at the end).

Cecilie had three sisters: Margarita (wife of Prince Gottfried of Hohenlohe-Langenburg), Theodora (wife of Berthold, Margrave of Baden) and Sophie (wife firstly of Prince Christoph of Hesse and secondly of Prince Georg Wilhelm of Hanover). Her brother Philip, later Duke of Edinburgh, is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

On February 2, 1931 at Darmstadt, Cecilie married Prince Georg-Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, her maternal first cousin once removed. Georg Donatus, was the son of Ernest-Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse and By Rhine (son of Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse-Denmark and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom) and his second wife Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich.

They had four children:

Ludwig 1931-1937
Alexander 1933-1937
Johanna 1936-1939
Stillborn son 1937-1937

On May 1, 1937 Cecilie and her husband both joined the Nazi Party.

Death
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Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark

In October 1937, Cecilie’s father-in-law Grand Duke Ernst-Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine died, making Georg-Donats titular Grand Duke of Hesse and By Rhine. A few weeks after the funeral, her brother-in-law Prince Ludwig was due to be married to the Hon. Margaret Campbell-Geddes in London.

On November 16, 1937, Georg Donatus, Cecilie, their two young sons, Ludwig and Alexander, and Georg’s mother Grand Duchess Eleonore left Darmstadt for London, where they planned to attend the wedding. The aircraft in which they were travelling crashed in flames after hitting a factory chimney near Ostend, Belgium, killing all on board. Cecilia was eight months pregnant with her fourth child at the time of the crash, and the remains of the baby were found in the wreckage; a Belgian official enquiry concluded that Cecilie had given birth mid-flight and the landing attempt was made in bad weather because of this.

Cecilie was buried with her husband and three of her children in Darmstadt at the Rosenhöhe, the traditional burial place of the Hesse family. Cecilie’s daughter Johanna was adopted by her paternal uncle, Prince Ludwig and his wife Margaret (who married the day after the crash). However, Johanna died two years later from meningitis and is buried with her parents and siblings. Cecilie was the first of Prince Andrew and Princess Alice’s children to die.