Brigitte and I happened to see a documentary last night (in German on Austrian national television) about the life of Prince Philip’s mother. Wow! And we think we have difficulties sometimes! A very spiritually oriented person, obviously a deep seeker, she went through hell (not just personal, but also, dealing with others, like bandaging soldiers with missing body parts on war’s frontlines as Princess of Greece and Denmark) but was able to maintain her benevolent, selfless attitude.
Prince Philip’s life was chockfull of drama and controversy with his three sisters being married to Nazis.
However, the one person in his family who was known far and wide for her noble services was his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg.
Despite links to the Nazis, Princess Alice was honoured for rescuing the lives of Jews during the Holocaust, before she turned into a nun.
The life lived by Queen Victoria’s great-granddaughter was filled with spirituality and struggles as she was born congenitally deaf but could speak clearly.
The family was exiled from Greece and had to settle in Paris where Alice found solace in religion and was said to have started hearing voices that she claimed were divine messages.
Alice was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had her womb irradiated with x-rays to thwart her supposed sexual desires, upon the advice of Sigmund Freud.
She was then admitted to a Swiss sanatorium against her wishes when her son was nine years old. She stayed there for two years and after her release, remained homeless, seeking refuge in a number of German inns.
It wasn’t until her daughter Cécilie passed away in a plane crash in 1937 that she met Philip again, then 16 years old.
She eventually found a home in Athens, Greece and was known to have given shelter to a Jewish family during World War II at the top floor of her house.
She was honoured by the Holocaust center Yad Vashem in Israel, which in 1993 bestowed her with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
She sold last of her jewels to establish her own religious order, the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary after which she formed a convent and an orphanage in Athens.
She spent her last years in Buckingham Palace with her son after she was forced to leave Greece in 1967 following a military coup.
Before she passed away in 1969, she had inked a heartfelt note for Philip, her youngest child, that read: “Dearest Philip, Be brave, and remember I will never leave you, and you will always find me when you need me most. All my devoted love, your old Mama.”