Princess Alice of Battenberg (February 25, 1885 – December 5, 1969) was the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and mother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II.
Alice was born in the Tapestry Room at Windsor Castle in Berkshire in the presence of her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. She was the eldest child of Prince Louis of Battenberg and his wife, Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine.
Her mother was the eldest daughter of Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, Queen Victoria’s second daughter. Her father was the eldest son of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine through his morganatic marriage to Countess Julia Hauke, who was created Princess of Battenberg in 1858 by Ludwig III, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.
Alice’s three younger siblings, Louise, George, and Louis, later became Queen of Sweden, Marquess of Milford Haven, and Earl Mountbatten of Burma, respectively.
Alice was christened Victoria Alice Elizabeth Julia Marie in Darmstadt on April 25, 1885.
She was congenitally deaf.
Princess Alice met Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark (known as Andrea within the family), the fourth son of King George I of Greece and Olga Constantinovna of Russia, while in London for King Edward VII’s coronation in 1902.
They married in a civil ceremony on October 6, 1903 at Darmstadt. The following day, there were two religious marriage ceremonies; one Lutheran in the Evangelical Castle Church, and one Greek Orthodox in the Russian Chapel on the Mathildenhöhe. She adopted the style of her husband, becoming “Princess Andrew”.
The bride and groom were closely related to the ruling houses of the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Denmark, and Greece, and their wedding was one of the great gatherings of the descendants of Queen Victoria and Christian IX of Denmark held before World War I.
Prince and Princess Andrew had five children, all of whom later had children of their own.
Princess Margarita 1905 – 1981.
Married Gottfried, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.
Princess Theodora 1906 – 1969.
Married Berthold, Margrave of Baden.
Princess Cecilie 1911 – 1937.
Married Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.
Princess Sophie 1914 – 2001.
Married 1. Prince Christoph of Hesse-Cassel
Married 2. Prince Georg Wilhelm of Hanover
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh 1921 – 2021.
Married Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom
After their wedding, Prince Andrew continued his career in the military and Princess Andrew became involved in charity work. In 1908, she visited Russia for the wedding of Grand Duchess Marie of Russia and Prince William of Sweden.
While there, she talked with her aunt Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, (born Elizabeth of Hesse and by Rhine) who was formulating plans for the foundation of a religious order of nurses. Princess Andrew attended the laying of the foundation stone for her aunt’s new church. Later in the year, the Grand Duchess began giving away all her possessions in preparation for a more spiritual life.
She lived in Greece until the exile of most of the Greek royal family in 1917. On returning to Greece a few years later, her husband was blamed in part for the country’s defeat in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922), and the family was once again forced into exile until the restoration of the Greek monarchy in 1935.
In 1930, Princess Andrew was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to a sanatorium in Switzerland; thereafter, she lived separately from her husband.
After her recovery, she devoted most of her remaining years to charity work in Greece. She stayed in Athens during the Second World War, sheltering Jewish refugees, for which she is recognised as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Israel’s Holocaust memorial institution, Yad Vashem. After the war, she stayed in Greece and founded a Greek Orthodox nursing order of nuns known as the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary.
Princess Andrew returned to the United Kingdom in April 1947 to attend the November wedding of her only son, Philip, to Princess Elizabeth, the elder daughter and heir presumptive of King George VI. She had some of her remaining jewels used in Princess Elizabeth’s engagement ring. On the day of the wedding, her son was created Duke of Edinburgh by George VI.
For the wedding ceremony, Princess Andrew sat at the head of her family on the north side of Westminster Abbey, opposite the King, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary. It was decided not to invite Princess Andrew’s daughters (the groom’s sisters) to the wedding because of anti-German sentiment in Britain following World War II.
After the fall of King Constantine II of Greece and the imposition of military rule in Greece in 1967, Princess Andrew was invited by her son and daughter-in-law to live at Buckingham Palace in London, where she died two years later.
In 1988, her remains were transferred from a vault in her birthplace, Windsor Castle, to the Church of Mary Magdalene at the Russian Orthodox convent of the same name on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.