Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Prince of Wales Visits Grandmother's Grave in Israel

While in Israel to represent the Queen at the funeral of former president Shimon Peres, HRH The Prince of Wales made a private pilgrimage to the Church of Mary Magdalene, an Eastern Orthodox church on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, where his paternal grandmother, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, formerly Princess Alice of Battenberg, is buried.

It is the first time the Prince has visited the gravesite. Prince Charles was twenty-one when his grandmother died at Buckingham Palace in 1969. After laying flowers for Princess Alice, Charles paid tribute to another of his relatives buried at the church, Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, who was Princess Alice's aunt and a sister of the Russian empress Alexandra.

Princess Alice of Battenberg, who was the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born at Windsor Castle in the presence of her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Though she was born deaf, Alice learned to lip read in multiple languages, and grew into a strikingly beautiful young woman. Regarding her prospects as a potential bride for a European monarch, her great-uncle, King Edward VII, is reported to have said that "no throne in Europe is too good for her". She would not marry a king, however, but did end up marrying the fourth son of a king. In 1903, she wed Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, one of the younger sons of King George I of Greece. After her marriage, she adopted the title "Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark", which she used for the remainder of her life. She had five children, of which Prince Philip was the youngest, but spent a great deal of time apart from them after she was committed to a mental sanitarium during the 1930s when she suffered a nervous collapse. After her release, she returned to Greece and remained there during the German occupation in World War II, where she secretly hid a Jewish family in her home. She left Greece and came to live at Buckingham Palace at the invitation of her son and daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, following the Greek military coup of 1967.


In 1994, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, recognized Princess Alice as "righteous among nations" for her efforts in hiding the Jewish family while living under enemy occupation in Athens. The ceremony was attended by her two surviving children, Prince Philip and Princess Sophia. Her remains were moved to the Church of Mary Magdalene in 1988.