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Princess Alice of Battenberg: a war-time hero

The late Duke of Edinburgh was an anchor of support for Queen Elizabeth II throughout her entire reign. Although many considered him an outsider when the couple married, he had his own royal pedigree. His mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg was born on 25 February at Windsor Castle. 

Princess Alice was born to Prince Louis Alexander of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse and By Rhine in 1885 at Windsor Castle. She was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria; Alice’s mother Victoria was the daughter of Princess Alice, the third child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. 

Alice spent her childhood across many different countries, as her father was in the navy. After she struggled to learn to speak, she was diagnosed with congenital deafness. Alice learned to lip-read and speak in both English and German, and would go on to learn both French and Greek. 

The Princess met Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark in 1902 and they were married in 1903. The couple had five children: Princess Margarita in 1905, Princess Theodora in 1906, Princess Cecile in 1911, Princess Sophie in 1914, and Prince Philip in 1921. 

The family of six was forced into exile in 1917 when King Constantine of Greece abdicated. 

By the 1930s, Alice faced a health crisis. She claimed that she had direct communication with both Christ and Buddha, and that she had healing powers. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and would spend two years in a sanatorium. 

During the Second World War, Alice lived in Athens and helped organise soup kitchens for those in need. She also sheltered a Jewish family during the war. In 2010, she was named a British Hero of the Holocaust, one of twenty-seven original recipients.

In 1949, Princess Alice founded the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary, a Greek Orthodox order. 

In 1967, she moved into Buckingham Palace at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. She lived there until her death in 1969. 

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