Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece


“In 1953, at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Alice was dressed from head to foot in a long gray dress and a gray cloak, and a nun’s veil. Amidst all the jewels, and velvet and coronets, and the fine uniforms, she exuded an unworldly simplicity. Seated with the royal family, she was a part of them, yet somehow distanced from them. Inasmuch as she is remembered at all today, it is as this shadowy figure in gray nun’s clothes...”

Princess Alice, mother of Prince Phillip, was something of a mystery ...

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Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece

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“In 1953, at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Alice was dressed from head to foot in a long gray dress and a gray cloak, and a nun’s veil. Amidst all the jewels, and velvet and coronets, and the fine uniforms, she exuded an unworldly simplicity. Seated with the royal family, she was a part of them, yet somehow distanced from them. Inasmuch as she is remembered at all today, it is as this shadowy figure in gray nun’s clothes...”

Princess Alice, mother of Prince Phillip, was something of a mystery figure even within her own family. She was born deaf, at Windsor Castle, in the presence of her grandmother, Queen Victoria, and brought up in England, Darmstadt, and Malta.

In 1903 she married Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and from then on her life was overshadowed by wars, revolutions, and enforced periods of exile. By the time she was thirty-five, virtually every point of stability was overthrown. Though the British royal family remained in the ascendant, her German family ceased to be ruling princes, her two aunts who had married Russian royalty had come to savage ends, and soon afterwards Alice's own husband was nearly executed as a political scapegoat.

The middle years of her life, which should have followed a conventional and fulfilling path, did the opposite. She suffered from a serious religious crisis and at the age of forty-five was removed from her family and placed in a sanitarium in Switzerland, where she was pronounced a paranoid schizophrenic. As her stay in the clinic became prolonged, there was a time where it seemed she might never walk free again. How she achieved her recovery is just one of the remarkable aspects of her story.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
When Great Britain's Princess Alice married Prince Andrew of Greece in 1903, she entered a life full of strife and tragedy. Her German family was forced into exile when an uncle was dethroned, and her husband was nearly executed as a result of a royal power play. At the age of 45, she was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and sent to a sanatorium. Would she be able to recover?
Publishers Weekly
A chain-smoking, nearly deaf princess who ministered to the sick in Greek hospitals and soup kitchens, was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic at age 45, fancied herself a nun and sheltered a Jewish family during the Holocaust (for which she was posthumously given the title Righteous among the Nations, an honor Oskar Schindler also received), Alice is a biographer's dream. Born under the watchful eye of her great-grandmother Queen Victoria in Windsor Castle in 1885, Alice married a Greek prince who was actually Danish, German and Russian. And while she was devoted to Greece, she and her royal in-laws were never fully accepted by their adopted subjects. At age 84, she died in Buckingham Palace, where she lived at the end of her life at the behest of her youngest child and only son, Prince Philip, and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. This is the first biography of Alice, and it's hard to imagine anyone doing a better or more comprehensive job than Vickers, an authority on Europe's royals whose previous subjects include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. By crafting the perfect blend of juicy gossip and historical details, Vickers makes it abundantly clear why Alice deserves to be known as more than just the queen's mother-in-law. Among the more memorable images he captures: the ill-fated Czar Nicholas of Russia, who was married to Alice's Aunt Alix, pelting his niece with a bag of rice and a shoe at her 1903 wedding. Never one to shrink from a challenge, Alice caught the shoe and used it to hit her uncle on the head. 16 pages b&w photos not seen by PW. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Vickers's portrait of Princess Alice of Greece reveals a woman whose life was both tragic and courageous. A great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and mother to Prince Phillip of Great Britain, Alice had relatives in most of the royal houses of Europe. But despite such grand connections, her life wasn't easy. She witnessed firsthand the brutality of the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912-13) and World War I, and eventually she and her husband, Prince Andrew of Greece, were forced to live in exile, beginning an "extraordinary nomadic existence." Such trying circumstances eventually sent her over the edge, and she was committed to a sanitarium, but through sheer determination she recovered. Vickers emphasizes Alice's many virtuous characteristics, such as her profound spirituality and giving nature. She received the Royal Red Cross for her nursing activities during the Balkan Wars, and later in life she adopted a simple nun's habit and founded a sisterhood whose mission was to "go out into the world to nurse." Although Vickers spends too much time on unnecessary detail, for example citing nearly every case of influenza Alice contracted, this biography of a relatively unknown and complex princess is worth telling. Isabel Coates, Canada Customs & Revenue Agency, Ont. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
In this first US edition, an expert on the British royal family traces the life (1885- 1969) of Prince Philip's deaf mother (and Prince Charles' grandmother) through marriage into the Greek royal family, political jeopardy as also a German royal, religious crisis, and good works as a Greek Orthodox nun. Includes photos, family trees, and details of her final burial in Jerusalem. First published in 2000 in the UK by Hamish Hamilton Ltd. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
A well-crafted life of the late mother-in-law of the present queen of England.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312302399
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 242,151
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Hugo Vickers was born in 1951 and educated at Eton and Strasbourg University. His books include Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough; Cecil Beaton; Vivien Leigh; Loving Garbo; Royal Orders; The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor; and The Kiss, which won the 1996 Stern Silver Pen for Non-fiction. He is an acknowledged expert on the royal family, appears regularly on television, and has lectured all over the world. Hugo Vickers and his family divide their time between London and a manor house in Hampshire.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix
Introduction xv
1. The Infant Princess 1
2. The Battenbergs 5
3. Early Days 14
4. Growing Up 29
5. Alice with Queen Victoria 41
6. Falling in Love 49
7. The Wedding 60
8. The Greek Royal Family 65
9. Political Intrigue 77
10. The First Balkan War 93
11. The Murder of King George 105
12. The First World War 111
13. The First Exile 124
14. Veering towards Religion 140
15. The Birth of Prince Philip 151
16. The Greeks in Defeat 161
17. 'Alice's Royalist Plots' 172
18. Family Life 185
19. Descent into Crisis 195
20. Tegel and Kreuzlingen, 1930 204
21. Kreuzlingen, 1931 225
22. Escape 238
23. Alice Itinerant 245
24. Philip and Andrea 257
25. Recovery and Tragedy 268
26. Separate Ways 276
27. Return to Greece 281
28. Greece under Occupation 292
29. Alice in Germany 301
30. Philip's Engagement 317
31. Philip's Wedding 326
32. The Sisterhood 333
33. The Coronation of Elizabeth II 341
34. The Reign of King Paul 349
35. India and Bahrain 364
36. The Reign of King Constantine 378
37. Alice at the Palace 387
Appendix The Burial of Alice 399
Notes 407
Bibliography 445
Family Trees 449
Index 459
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Too complicated!

    I enjoyed the book but found all the families involved very complicated. I was continually flipping back to all the family trees. Alice had a very sad life with lots of problems. Was most interested in Prince Phillip and his days of growing up. He also had a rough time being moved around being between various family members and not much time with his mother, although she did spend some time writing to him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2006

    For detailed biography lovers only

    Unless one possesses a reasonable knowledge of the royal family trees of EurAsia, the book is difficult to follow initially as the author attempts to trace families relations to one another right away. To complicate matters, royals tend to use the same first names through the generations. For example, Alice's mother was Victoria and her mother was Alice and her mother was the very famous Queen Victoria. If you can get over having to understand each family members exact relation to others in the book, it makes for a nice read. Alice certainly led an interesting life during an eventful century. This fact lays out insights for the reader into 20th century history, from ruling families perspectives, that might not otherwise be known. Alice dealt with all of her circumstances far more gracefully than current royals. Knowing a bit about the current British royals makes the second half of the very detailed biography go quickly as those current generation ties start to form.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2006

    Probably only interesting to a Royalty buff

    This is really one biography where a little LESS detail would have made for a better book. While I appreciate some of the revelations, I don't need to know every time Alice fell ill. I also didn't care for Vickers' tendency to footnote on every page (literally). Again, too much detail. However, the work is readable, it's probably the only biography of Alice that we'll ever get, and there is information available here that's not available anywhere else, so I recommend it to a Royalty buff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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