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Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone (Alice Mary Victoria Augusta Pauline; née Princess Alice of Albany; 25 February 1883 – 3 January 1981) was a member of the British Royal Family. She was the longest lived Princess of the Blood Royal of the British Royal Family and the last surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria. She also held the titles of Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duchess in Saxony from birth as well as a Princess of Teck by marriage until 1917 when she was commanded to relinquish them by the Letters Patent of George V. She was godmother to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, granddaughter of her first cousin, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. Princess Alice was the last grandchild of Queen Victoria to pass away, doing so in January 1981, almost 115 years after the passing of Prince Sigismund of Prussia, the first grandchild of Queen Victoria to die. He died in June 1866.

Early life

Princess Alice was born 25 February 1883 at Windsor Castlemarker. Her father was Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, the youngest son of Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort. Her mother was Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont. She had one brother, Prince Charles, Duke of Albany (1884–1954) and later reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1900–1918). As the granddaughter of the Sovereign, through the male line, she was a Princess of the United Kingdommarker and a Royal Highness. As the daughter of the Duke of Albany, she was, therefore, styled Her Royal Highness Princess Alice of Albany. She was baptised in the Private Chapel of Windsor Castle on 26 March 1883. Her godparents were Queen Victoria, German Empress Augusta, Victoria, Crown Princess of Germany, Helene, Princess of Waldeck-Pyrmont, Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, Pauline, Hereditary Princess of Bentheim, Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), William III, King of the Netherlands, Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Prince Wilhelm of Württemberg.

Marriage and issue

On 10 February 1904, at St George's Chapel, Windsormarker, Princess Alice of Albany married her second cousin once removed, Prince Alexander of Teck, the brother of Queen Mary. After their marriage Princess Alice was styled HRH Princess Alexander of Teck.

Prince and Princess Alexander of Teck had three children:
Name Birth Death Notes
Lady May Cambridge 23 January 1906 29 May 1994 Married 1931 to Henry Abel Smith; had issue
Rupert Cambridge, Viscount Trematon 24 April 1907 15 April 1928 Died in a car crash
Prince Maurice of Teck 29 March 1910 14 September 1910 Died in infancy


Princess Alice was one of the carriers of the gene for haemophilia which arose with Queen Victoria. Princess Alice inherited the gene from her father who himself was a sufferer. Her eldest son, Rupert, inherited the disease from her; this led to his early death following an automobile accident.

1917

When the British royal family abandoned all Germanic titles by Letters Patent issued by King George V in June 1917, Prince Alexander of Teck adopted the surname Cambridge, became (briefly) Sir Alexander Cambridge, then the Earl of Athlone, relinquishing the title "Prince of Teck" in the Kingdom of Württembergmarker and the style Serene Highness. As such, the two surviving children lost their Württemberg princely titles. Princess Alice relinquished her titles of Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duchess of Saxony, whilst her brother Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who held a commission in the German army, was stripped of his British titles. Alice remained, however, a Princess of Great Britain and Ireland and a Royal Highness in her own right, as granddaughter of Queen Victoria in the male-line. From June 1917 until her death, she was styled Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone.

World War II

Princess Alice c.
1942
Princess Alice accompanied her husband to Canadamarker where he served as Governor General from 1940–1946. He had also served as Governor-General of South Africa from 1924–1931. During their time in South Africa, Lord and Lady Athlone had a coastal beach house constructed at Muizenbergmarker, which still stands today and is one of South Africa's national monuments. The Cape Town Suburb of Athlone was named in honour of the Governor-General and, together with the beach house, is also the only physical reminder of the Athlones' residence at the Cape. At the end of World War II, the American Military Government in Bavaria, under the command of General George S. Patton, arrested and imprisoned Alice's brother, Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, (who served as a member of the Reichstag from 1937 to 1945), because of his Nazi sympathies. Alice, learning of her brother's incarceration, came to Germanymarker with her husband to plead with his American captors for his release. They would not yield, and in 1946, he was sentenced by a de-nazification court, heavily fined and almost bankrupted.

Royal duties

In her lifetime, Princess Alice carried out many royal duties. She attended the coronations of four monarchs: Edward VII, George V, George VI, and Elizabeth II. She was also the Colonel in Chief of two British army units and one Rhodesian army unit. During the second world war she was Honorary Air Commandant of the Royal Canadian Air Force Women's Division. In 1950, she became the first Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (then the University College of the West Indies). From the 1930s-60s she was Chair of the Council (governing body) of Royal Holloway Collegemarker, University of London.

Later life

The Earl of Athlone died in 1957 at Kensington Palace in London. Princess Alice lived on there until 1981, when she died at age 97 years and 312 days. At her death she was the longest-lived British Princess of the Blood Royal and the last surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria. However Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother later became the longest-lived member-by-marriage of the British Royal Family until her sister-in-law Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester broke the record, living even longer beyond her 100th birthday.

Her funeral took place in St George's Chapelmarker at Windsor Castlemarker, attended by all members of the Royal Family. She is buried alongside her husband and son in the private British royal burial grounds at Frogmoremarker, directly behind the mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in Windsor Great Park. Her daughter and son-in-law are also buried close by.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 25 February 1883 – 10 February 1904: Her Royal Highness Princess Alice of Albany
  • 10 February 1904 – 14 July 1917: Her Royal Highness Princess Alexander of Teck
  • 14 July 1917 – July 1917: Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, The Honorable Lady Cambridge
  • July 1917 – 3 January 1981: Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone


Honours





Arms

As a granddaughter of Queen Victoria in the male line, Princess Alice was entitled to use the Royal Arms, with a 5 point label as a difference, the central point bearing a cross gules, the others hearts gules.

Until George V's warrant of 1917, her arms, like all those of Prince Albert's British royal descendants, bore an inescutcheon for Saxony.

Ancestry




Trivia

In 1953 when visiting Eastbournemarker, she was conveyed around in a Rolls Royce owned by suspected serial killer John Bodkin Adams.

External links



References

  1. Hitler's Favourite Royal (Channel 4 documentary) Dec 2007
  2. The Nazi relative that the Royals disowned - Daily Mail - Dec 2007
  3. 1937 Royal visit of Queen Mary to Royal Holloway College, Egham, 1937
  4. Heraldica – British Royalty Cadency
  5. Surtees, John "The Strange case of Dr John Bodkin Adams, 2000





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