PRINCESS ANDREW OF GREECE & DENMARK
Princess Alice (Princess Andrew) in 1903
On return to Greece, Alice and Prince Andrew found the political situation increasingly difficult which led to Prince Andrew leaving the Greek Army. At the start of the Balkan Wars in 1912, Prince Andrew was reinstated in the Army in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and Alice became a nurse and set up field hospitals for the wounded soldiers. In recognition of her selfless service, King George V (1865(1910-1936) awarded Alice the Royal Red Cross (RRC) on 7th November 1913.
The insignia of the Royal Red Cross (RRC)
Villa 'Mon Repos', Corfu -
home of Alice & Prince Andrew of Greece & Denmark
Princess Alice (Princess Andrew) in 1928
In May 1908, Alice visited Russia for a family wedding and whilst there she got the opportunity to discuss religious matters with her aunt - Grand Duchess Elizabeth 'Ella' Feodorovna of Russia, formerly Princess Elisabeth of Hesse & By the Rhine, later canonised as Holy Martyr Elizabeth Feodorovna (1864-1918). The widowed Grand Duchess had sold off her jewels and other possessions to enter a fully spiritual life as a nun. With the proceeds, she founded a convent in Moscow and did much to help the poor and homeless. Her aunt clearly had a substantial effect on Alice - which she was never to forget.
Grand Duchess Elizabeth 'Ella' of Russia -
Holy Martyr Elizabeth Feodorovna
(Princess Elisabeth of Hesse & By the Rhine)
During World War I, the Greek Government had a policy of political neutrality but by 1917 this policy became untenable. Following the abdication of Prince Andrew's brother - King
Constantine I of the Hellenes (1868-1923) on 11th June 1917, the Greek Royal Family went into exile. On 19th December 1920, The King was restored to his Throne and Prince Andrew and his family returned to Greece, residing at the Villa 'Mon Repos' in Corfu, which he had inherited from his father in 1913. After the defeat of the Greek Army in the Greco-Turkish War, a Revolutionary Committee seized power and forced The King into exile once again on 27th September 1922 and Prince Andrew was subsequently arrested and court-martialled for disobeying orders during the Battle of Sakarya. Following a 'show trial', he and his family were banished from Greece. Fearing their safety, the British Government sent HMS Calypso where Prince Andrew and his family which included their 18 month old son - Prince Philip (1921-2021) in a cot made of an orange box, were taken to Brindisi, Italy. The family subsequently made their home (with limited possessions) in Paris, France.
Princess Alice with her only son - Prince Philip
(later 1st Duke of Edinburgh)
King George V (1865(1910-1936) was still reluctant to have 'foreign princes' heading to the UK in exile, and the Prime Minister - The Rt Hon. Andrew Bonar Law (1858-1923) asked The King not to encourage members of the deposed Greek Royal Family coming to the UK. With questions being asked in Parliament about the fate of Prince Andrew and his family, Alice's mother was livid that her daughter, who was born in Windsor Castle and was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) and her own family were not welcome in the country of her birth.
Whilst Alice lived in Paris, she worked in a charity shop for Greek refugees and became deeply religious and converted to the Greek Orthodox Church. Alice's mental state soon became cause for concern, neglected her domestic life with Prince Andrew and would not even talk to members of her family. Her mother wrote to her Lady-in-Waiting - Mrs Nona Kerr Crichton (1875-1960) in January 1930 - "my poor Alice is in a quite abnormal state mentally and boldily... She has visions of Christ... She wanders praying about the house at times." Alice subsequently suffered a complete nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia whilst in an asylum in Berlin, Germany and then subsequently was placed under the care of Dr Ludvig Binswanger (1881-1966) in the Bellevue Sanatorium in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland - where the famous Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950) and fellow schizophrenic, was also a patient. The transfer to the sanatorium was done against Alice's will, but on the instructions of her mother, and with the tacet agreement of Prince Andrew.
Bellevue Sanitorium, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
'Comtesse de la Bigne'
During this time Alice and Prince Andrew drifted apart and as far as he was concerned, the marriage was over. Alice remained in the Bellevue Sanatorium for two years and upon her release, she wandered around Europe (on an allowance of approximately £110 a month paid by Edwina) with friends, sometimes using the style 'Countess Hohenstein' and broke off all contact with her husband and their children. She maintained limited contact with her mother, feeling betrayed that she had been detained not on medical grounds but by at the request of her own mother and her own husband had sanctioned it. Prince Andrew by this time was now living (some would say a sad 'hand to mouth life', missing his native Greece) on the French Riviera with his mistress - the actress Andrée Lafayette, née Godard (1903-1989), the self-styled 'Comtesse de la Bigne', granddaughter of the celebrated "Courtisane du Tout-Paris" Émilie-Louise Delabigne, known as 'Valtesse de La Bigne' (1848-1910), a former mistress of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French (1808-1873).
On 16th November 1937, Alice's daughter - Princess Cecilie (who was eight months pregnant) and her husband - Hereditary Grand Duke Georg Donatus 'Don' of Hesse & By the Rhine (1906-1937), were killed in an airplane crash, with several members of their family and household near Ostend, Belgium, who were all flying to England for the wedding of Prince Louis 'Lu', The Prince of Hesse & By the Rhine (1908-1968) to The Hon. Margaret 'Peg' Geddes (1913-1997). The funeral - which was held on 23rd November 1937 at Rosenhöhe Park, Darmstadt, Hesse was a public display of Nazi German dominance, and Philip (aged 16yrs) walked in the procession alongside his brothers-in-laws, who wore Nazi German uniforms. Mountbatten represented King George VI (1895(1936-1952) and his brother George, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, formerly Prince George of Battenberg (1892-1938) represented Queen Mary (1867-1953). It was at the funeral, Alice and Prince Andrew met for the first time in six years. Princess Cecilie's death hit Prince Andrew particularly hard, as she was his favourite daughter. However, Alice herself coped with the tragedy better than many expected. Prince Louis' wedding (which was originally scheduled to be held on 23rd October 1937) had originally been delayed due to the death of Don's father - Grand Duke Ernest Louis 'Ernie' of Hesse & By the Rhine (1868-1937) and subsequently took place privately on 17th November 1937 at St Peter's Church, Eaton Square, London - where Mountbatten was Prince Louis' best man.
LEFT: Hereditary Grand Duke
Georg Donatus 'Don' of Hesse
& By the Rhine, & Princess Cecilie
with their children (left to right)
Prince Alexander; Princess Johanna
(in her mother's arms)
& Prince Ludwig
The scene of the airplane crash
in Ostend, Belgium
BOTTOM LEFT & RIGHT:
Prince Louis 'Lu' of Hesse & By the Rhine & The Hon. Margaret 'Peg' Geddes (in mourning)
following their private wedding at St Paul's Church, Eaton Square, London in November 1937
Following the Hesse funerals, Alice had hoped of reuniting with her husband, but Prince Andrew returned to Paris, France, and then back to Monaco and Alice continued her 'nomadic' life visiting friends and family throughout Europe ending up back in Greece - in a small flat in Athens. When World War II started in September 1939, Alice was still living in Athens, but now with her widowed sister-in-law - Princess Nicholas of Greece & Denmark, formerly Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia (1882-1957), whose youngest daughter Princess Marina (1906-1968) had married Prince George, 1st Duke of Kent (1902-1942), the fourth son of King George V (1865(1910-1936). Alice's annual allowance from Edwina was now £552, which was paid into the London bank account of Prince Andrew's nephew - King George II of the Hellenes (1890-1947), who then paid Alice monthly in drachmas. During the War, Alice worked for the Greek Red Cross and helped organize soup kitchens and flew to Sweden to bring back medical supplies on the pretext of visiting her sister - Queen Louise of Sweden, formerly Princess Louise of Battenberg (1889-1965). With the occupation of Greece by the Axis Powers in April 1941, Alice was in turmoil being a member of the Greek Royal Family with two sons-in-laws fighting with the Germans, and a son serving in the British Royal Navy. When Alice was visited by a German General (on the presumption that as a 'German' Princess, Alice was pro-German) he asked her - “is there anything I can do for you?", to which she replied, "you can take your troops out of my country.”
Nazi German forces occupied Athens in September 1943, following the downfall of 'Il Duce' Benito Mussolini (1883-1945). Athens had been the haven of many Greek Jews and at this time Alice hid a Jewish widow and her children from being sent to a death camp by the hated and feared Geheime Staatspolizei 'Gestapo' - the Nazi Germany State Police, who regularly questioned Alice. At the risk of her own safety and possible death, she hid the Cohen family for over a year within her own residence. Athens was liberated in October 1944 and by this time Alice was living on her own, half-starved in squalid conditions and despite her poor health, she frequently gave away food parcels sent to her by Mountbatten.
On 3rd December 1944, Prince Andrew died aged 62yrs whilst staying in the Hotel Metropole, Monte Carlo, Monaco with his mistress - he had not seen his wife or children since 1939. Prince Andrew was buried initially in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice, France but in 1946 his remains were transferred to the Greek Royal cemetery at Tatoi Palace, near Athens.
grave at the
Following Prince Andrew's death, Alice (despite being separated from her husband for many years) adopted the status of his widow and mourned him as if they had still been together. Prince Andrew's debts were not fully reconciled until 1947. By 1945, Greece was a country in chaos with civil unrest and political instability, but Alice continued her charity work and nursing in earnest, despite the curfews. In February 1945, Alice celebrated her sixtieth birthday at The Mountbatten's home - Broadlands, where she was reunited with her mother for the first time since 1939.
The engagement ring of
(later Queen Elizabeth II)
designed by Prince Philip
later Queen Elizabeth II
& Prince Philip,
1st Duke of Edinburgh
in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace
following their wedding
In April 1947, Alice returned to England for the forthcoming wedding of her only son - Prince Philip (1921-2021), who by this time had renounced his Greek and Danish titles and took the name 'Philip Mountbatten'. On the eve of his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, who would later succeed in 1952 as Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-2022), King George VI (1895(1936-1952) created Philip - Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth & Baron Greenwich, with the qualification of Royal Highness. The marriage ceremony took place on 20th November 1947 at Westminster Abbey, London. Alice gave her son some of her last remaining jewels to make the engagement ring - which was made by the London jeweller Philip Antrobus Ltd, from a design by Prince Philip himself. Sadly hardly any of Prince Philip’s immediate family attended as it was decided not to invite his sisters because of post-war anti-German feelings. The ring is a platinum ring - set with eleven diamonds, a 3 carat solitaire and five smaller stones set on each shoulder. The wedding certainly brought colour and a glimmer of hope to many in post-War austerity Europe.
BELOW: A photograph taken in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace, following the wedding of
Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) & Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh.
Princess Alice is standing next to Queen Mary (front row, second from left); his best man was his cousin -
David Mountbatten, 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven (standing to next to Princess Elizabeth, the bride)
and Victoria, The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven (Prince Philip's grandmother)
is standing next to Queen Elizabeth (later The Queen Mother) (front row, far right).
Mountbatten's youngest daughter - Pamela, was a bridesmaid (standing behind Queen Mary
- back row, second in from the left)