Princess Alice of Battenberg: Who was Prince Phillip's mother, and why did she have to leave Greece?

Netflix’s hit royal family drama The Crown has returned for its third season, delving deeper into the inner lives of the monarchy.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 8:58 am
Prince Philip is the only son of Princess Alice. Picture: Netflix

One plotline in particular which the new series seems keen to follow is the relationship between Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) and his mother, Princess Alice (Jane Lapotaire).

A fascinating figure with a tragic and inspiring life story, Princess Alice’s tale has only been touched upon so far by the hit show.

Who was Prince Philip’s mother?

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Tobias Menzies as Prince Phillip in The Crown. Picture: Netflix

Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg was born at Windsor Castle in 1885.

The Great-Grandaughter of Queen Victoria, she was raised as an English Princess while also spending time in Greece and Germany. Deaf from birth, she learned to read lips in multiple languages and could also speak German.

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In 1930, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to a sanatorium in Switzerland. While there, she was treated by Sigmund Freud who, unsurprisingly, found her to be suffering from “sexual frustration.”

After years of pleading her sanity, Princess Alice was finally released from the sanatorium in the mid-30s.

She returned to Greece and converted to the Greek Orthodox Church, against the wishes of her family, founding an order of nuns there and devoting the rest of her life to religious works.

During the Second World War, whilst Germany occupied Athens, Princess Alice sheltered several Jewish families in her own apartment.

Why did she leave Greece?

Of course, had Prince Alice stayed with her nunnery, there would be no cause for her to come wandering into The Crown’s complex mesh of storylines over at Buckingham Palace.

However, in 1967, the Colonel’s Coup saw her forced to abandon her religious endeavours and once again flee the country.

On 21 April 1967, mere weeks before the country’s general elections were scheduled to take place, a squad of right-wing military members lead by Colonels George Papadopoulos and Nikolaos Makarezos seized power.

They placed tanks in strategic positions across Athens, quickly gaining control of the whole city. Simultaneously, they dispatched squads to arrest various high-profile left-wingers, including the Commander-in-Chief of the Greek Army.

By morning, the whole country was effectively theirs and, for the second time in her life, Princess Alice was forced into exile by the country she called home.

Having been apart for years, it is believed that this period saw Prince Philip and his mother re-establish and repair their often fraught relationship.

During a time of austerity in which public opinion of the royals was beginning to sour, the tales of hardship and resilience which Princess Alice told were also credit with rescuing the family’s image.