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Entertainment The Truth About Prince Philip's Mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg

18:40  09 april  2021
18:40  09 april  2021 Source:   graziadaily.co.uk

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Throughout the first two seasons of The Crown, we saw Prince Philip, a confident if sometimes cranky man, chafe at the restrictions placed upon him via being married to the Queen. Matt Smith’s Philip was dashing, charismatic, a cad – but as we learn more about Prince Philip's family tree, we also learn that he was also a man dealing with trauma; the trauma left after a turbulent childhood that involved the mental ill health of his mother, the cruelty of his father, the death of a beloved sister, the fleeing of Greece after the royal family were toppled and the misery of World War Two (three of Philip’s sisters married prominent Nazis).

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a man wearing a suit and tie: Princess Alice and Prince Philip © Getty Images Princess Alice and Prince Philip

Some light spoilers ahead for season 3, episode 4 of The Crown.

Now, in season three, Philip is older (played by Tobias Menzies); he goes to the gentlemen’s clubs less and watches TV more. The trauma of his past is still lapping at his consciousness, however, and in episode four of season three – an episode called “Bubbikins”, based on the nickname Philip’s mother gave him – it comes to the fore, mainly through a renewed relationship with his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg (played by Jane Lapotaire). But as we look back on Prince Philip's life, what's the truth about Prince Philip's mother?

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The mother of Prince Philip was Princess Alice of Battenberg was born Victoria Alice Elizabeth Julia Marie in Windsor Castle and was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She married Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark when she was still a teenager and went on to have five children; Philip, her only son, and four daughters. In the early 1920s, the Greek royal family were toppled and Princess Alice and her family had to flee to Paris; Prince Philip was only a baby.

Over the next decades, Princess Alice’s family were dispersed: Philip went to school in England and Scotland; the four girls married German nobility (with Nazi connections); and Prince Andrew settled in Monte Carlo, having little to do with his family.


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Later in the 1920s, Princess Alice suffered mental ill health: having been born deaf, she had found herself isolated and she began to experience ‘religious delusions’, believing that she had been intimate with Christ. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and treated by Sigmund Freud in Germany. Freud believed there was a problem with Princess Alice’s hormone levels and ordered X-rays of her ovaries, a treatment that is believed to have prompted an early menopause. Later, she was sent to a sanitorium in Switzerland, where she remained for several years.

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An elderly chain-smoking nun, she was an embarrassment to Philip, who says at one point in the episode that she was only ever ‘technically’ his mother.

Having escaped the sanitorium, she returned to Athens and throughout World War Two, she sheltered Jews (even as several other members of her family were involved with the Nazi party). She stayed in Greece after the war and founded an Orthodox order of nuns, staying at the convent for decades.

The Crown season three picks up at this point; when military rule was imposed in Greece in 1967, she was thought to be unsafe and brought to England to live with Prince Philip and the Queen. An elderly chain-smoking nun, she was an embarrassment to Philip, who says at one point in the episode that she was only ever ‘technically’ his mother: ‘It means she gave birth to me.’

At that point in the late 1960s, the royal family was enduring a spell of unpopularity and making efforts to prove their worth and authenticity. In season three, episode four of The Crown, they invite a documentary crew into the palace to film them but as they watch the show, Gogglebox-style, it becomes apparent that they are stilted, ridiculous. Only when a Guardian journalist gets access to Princess Alice and is able to tell the story of her extraordinary life does the family enjoy a boost in popularity. The theme of this episode is authenticy: who has it and who doesn’t; can it be faked and how it is earned. After it becomes clear that Princess Alice is the truly authentic royal, she lives out her last years in the peaceful and grand surroundings of the Palace, just as she did in real life.

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