"She felt responsible." Inside the Queen’s relationship with her ‘difficult’ mother-in-law.


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When Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, sat among members of the royal family at the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, little was known or spoken about her.

Dressed in a two-tone grey dress, with a nun-like veil on her head, Princess Alice was in stark contrast to the ceremony unfolding around her.

Following the release of the latest season of The Crown, however, there is renewed interest around Prince Philip’s mother.

WATCH: Royal rebels and the unexpected rules they broke. Post continues below.

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Princess Alice, who was the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, spent most of her life in Greece after marrying Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark in 1903. The couple had three daughters and a son, Prince Philip, before Prince Andrew passed away in 1944.

Following Prince Andrew’s death, Princess Alice remained in Greece for the next decade, focusing on charity work. But when her health began deteriorating in the late 1960s, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II invited her to live with them permanently at Buckingham Palace.


Now, in a new interview, the Queen’s former lady-in-waiting and Prince Philip’s cousin, Lady Pamela Hicks, has opened up about the monarch’s relationship with Princess Alice.

“The Queen was always marvellous with Princess Alice,” Lady Pamela Hicks said on her daughter India Hicks’ podcast.

“Princess Alice was staying at Windsor [Castle] and the Queen felt responsible.

“The Queen is the kind of person, who, when everyone else finds someone tricky, actually is very calm and gets the best out of them always.”

Lady Pamela, who was a bridesmaid at the Queen’s wedding, recalled that Princess Alice “could be very difficult”.

prince philip mother
Prince Philip and Princess Alice. Image: Getty.

"She was a great character, Aunt Alice, but being deaf, a very tricky person. Because although she could lip-read, you can only lip-read one person at a time," she said.

"So if it's a large dinner party of 20 people, you still have that unconscious feeling that everybody else is talking about you and you can't hear them. And you'll suspect if they're giggling they're saying something about you, and you'll get cross."

Lady Pamela noted that Princess Alice could often be "very sharp".

"I remember, she was staying at Windsor and we were waiting to go into lunch," she recalled.

"The equerry had come to collect her for lunch with the queen. He was a new equerry, a young man of about 20, and thought he must entertain Princess Alice and talk to her. He unwisely said, 'And what have you been doing this morning, ma’am?' to which Princess Alice replied, 'And what has [that] got to do with you?'"


Lady Pamela also shared that although Princess Alice and Prince Philip lived under the same roof up until her death in 1969, the mother and son lived very separate lives.

"She was in a dressing gown, by choice, in the attic," she said. "While Prince Philip was very busy down below.

Prince Philip had a complex relationship with his mother from a very young age.

Princess Alice in 1965. Image: Getty.

After being diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1930, Princess Alice was forcibly taken against her will to a Swiss sanitarium.

On the day she was removed from her home, Prince Philip was nine years old. He didn't see his mother again until he was 16.

During her time in the institution, Princess Alice was subjected to a host of (often barbaric) experimental treatments, some at the direction of the Austrian neurologist and renowned psychotherapist, Sigmund Freud.

After she was released, Princess Alice remained in central Europe, away from her husband and children.

She didn't see her husband and children again until she attended the funeral of her youngest daughter, Cecile, who died in a plane crash in 1937.

Following Cecile's death, Princess Alice went on to move to Athens alone to work with the poor. Once again, she became estranged from her husband and children.

She briefly returned to Britain in 1947 for Prince Philip's wedding to Princess Elizabeth, and for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953.

Princess Alice died at Buckingham Palace on December 5, 1969, aged 84.

Feature Image: Getty.

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