The Prince of Wales secretly visited his grandmother’s grave at a convent in Jerusalem on Friday, after attending the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres.
A number of images surfaced online which show Prince Charles making the visit to the Mount of Olives’s Church of Mary Magdalene where his paternal grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, is buried. The images, now seemingly removed, appeared on the social media accounts of people working with the church.
The British royals have historically refrained from visiting the site to remain neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The church is located in the East Jerusalem, which Israel captured during the Six-Day War and later annexed. The UK, however, does not recognise it as part of Israel. Last year, a British government source told The Telegraph: “The Royal family can’t really go there. In Israel, so much politics is caught up in the land itself that it’s best to avoid those complications altogether by not going there.”
Peres’s funeral, however, seems to have provided Charles with the perfect opportunity to take a covert detour.
Princess Alice was born in 1885 as the daughter of Prince Louis of Battenberg and his wife Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine. She was born congenitally deaf, but she did not let that stop hinder her. She married Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark in October 1903. They had five children and their youngest son is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Princess Alice moved to London in 1967 to live in Buckingham Palace with her son and daughter-in-law. She died there just two years later and she was initially interred in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. She was transferred to the crypt of the Church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem in 1988, per her own wishes.
During the Nazi occupation in Greece, Princess Alice hid a Jewish woman and two of her children from the Nazis. For her bravery she was recognised by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial as “Righteous Among the Nations” and by the British government as a “Hero of the Holocaust.” The Duke of Edinburgh visited Israel in 1994 to attend a ceremony marking his mother’s brave actions.
The Duke of Edinburgh has said of his mother’s actions, “I suspect that it never occurred to her that her action was in any way special. She was a person with a deep religious faith, and she would have considered it to be a perfectly natural human reaction to fellow beings in distress.”