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‘The Crown’ Introduced us to Princess Alice, Prince Philip’s Eccentric Mother. Here’s What You Need to Know about Her Amazing Life

Princess Alice of Battenberg is the breakout character of the third season of The Crown, Netflix’s hit drama. Princess Alice is at the heart of the crucial Royal storyline. As mother of the reigning Queen’s consort, Prince Philip, Alice adored her son. How was she as a person? A stand-out story in season three of The Crown, focused on Prince Philip’s mother Princess Alice who became the surprising star of the show.

Creator: Bettmann | Credit: Bettmann Archive

Alice faced mental health issues such as schizophrenia, at a home run by a Christian sisterhood that she had founded in Athens, Greece. Always strapped for funds, she sold her jewellery to keep alive the nursing home, during a period of political turmoil, with a possible military coup. Fearing violent changes Athens forced Prince Philip to bring her to London.

Growing up

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

At 20, Princess Alice married Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark in 1903, and became known as Princess Andrew. There were plenty of separations as Philip grew up, as his mother’s frequent hospital stays grew, or in the 1930s when she lived in Germany, and later moved to Athens. Her health issues led her to be seen by famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, although he did not diagnose her. Lord Louis Mountbatten was Princess Alice’s sibling and he was an important part of the Royal Family. The couple’s youngest child and only son, Philip, later married Queen Elizabeth II, and renounced his own royal titles. Alice lived out her life in Greece, and passed away at the age of 84 at Buckingham Palace in 1969.

 A Formidable Lady

Creator: Hulton Archive | Credit: Getty Images

Alice was celebrated for helping save a Jewish family during the Holocaust and she is buried on the famed Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. She is counted among the Righteous of the Nations as in 1943, in Athens (Nazi-occupied, at the time), she hid a Jewish family in her home and saved their lives. She was a saintly austere character and a generous philanthropist having founded a nursing sisterhood, and gave away all that she owned. After Greece’s political coup in 1967,  as shown in The Crown’s storyline, Prince Philip reluctantly invited Alice to live in Buckingham Palace with his family from 1967 to 1969, and reluctant to visit her in her room. She was always a formidable lady, stone deaf and hence somewhat remote and very forthright and rather austere. She neither gave interviews nor wandered about the palace, and lived in huge rooms at the front of the palace, and not in an attic.

 Life in the British Royal Family

Creator: imago stock&people via | Credit: imago images/United Archives International | Copyright: imago images/United Archives International

Philip was her much longed-for son after Princess Alice had four daughters. Philip remained devoted to her, often flying her from one place to another and also buying her an apartment in Athens. In reality, Prince Philip had been persuading his beloved aged mother to stay with them in London for quite some time. Only when her daughter Sophie confirmed that the invite to stay came from Queen Elizabeth, did she instantly come over. Princess Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth, had a very good relationship with her paternal grandmother and she too loved Anne, who called Alice Yaya, the Greek word for grandmother. Anne loved sitting and hearing her grandmother’s stories about Queen Victoria being present at Alice’s birth.

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