Princess Alice, Prince Philip's Mother, Was a Fascinating, Tragic Figure

Katherine J Igoe
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From Marie Claire

The relationship between Prince Philip (played by Tobias Menzies in season three of Netflix hit The Crown) and Philip's mother Princess Alice (played by Jane Lapotaire) was fraught for most of their lives. Alice, who preferred not to be associated with her royal name and spent a great deal of time either institutionalized or in a convent, was absent for a large part of her son's life and only reconnected with him when both were much older.

She's a fascinating and tragic figure, and her story is one of the strangest in royal history. According to Harper's Bazaar, the mother-son relationship will be explored in The Crown season 3—so what's the real-life story behind the fictional depiction?

Princess Alice was born at Windsor Castle.

Princess Alice, who was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was born and raised as an English princess, although she spent time in Greece as well as the German Empire. She was born deaf and remained so throughout her life (apparently she could lipread in several languages and speak English and German). She married Prince Andrew of Greece, and the pair had five children—Prince Philip was the youngest—but they were exiled when the Greek royal family was overthrown.

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Alice was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1930 (when she was 45) and placed in a sanitarium. Apparently, she was even treated by Sigmund Freud at one point, although (pretty standard for Freud, unfortunately) he said she suffered from sexual frustration and...induced early menopause in her.

After Alice recovered, she stayed in Greece, converted to the Greek Orthodox Church, founded an order of nuns against the wishes of her family, and devoted her life to religious work from then on.

She saved a Jewish family from the Holocaust.

In 2018, when Prince William visited Alice's tomb, she was formally recognized by the royal family for her bravery in sheltering a Jewish family during World War II. Rachel Cohen and her children were hidden at Alice's house, and her descendants thanked William for his great-grandmother's bravery.

The Royal Family tweeted, "Princess Alice, mother to The Duke of Edinburgh, lived in Athens during WWII and worked with the Swedish and Swiss Red Cross. During the German Occupation of Athens Princess Alice sheltered Jewish families in her apartment. In 1993 Yad Vashem bestowed the title of 'Righteous Among the Nations' to Princess Alice—an honour given to non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews."

The show covers her later years.

The first we see of Princess Alice during The Crown is during Elizabeth's wedding in season 1. The show takes a little creative license, showing her in her habit (Queen Mary makes a disparaging remark about her just coming out of a sanitarium). But it looks as though Alice was dressed in event-appropriate attire for the official photo—she's at the bottom left in the darker outfit. As for how the show depicts her in Philip and Elizabeth's later life—you'll have to watch the third season of The Crown to find out more.

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Season 3 of The Crown is available to watch on Netflix on November 17.

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