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The Duchess of Gloucester and her husband on an Australian stamp in 1945.
Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (née The Lady Alice Christabel Montagu Douglas Scott, 25 December 1901 – 29 October 2004) was the wife and then widow of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the third son of King George V and Queen Mary. Alice was thus the sister-in-law of King George VI and Edward VIII.

Through marriage, Alice became a paternal aunt to Queen Elizabeth II. Through her paternal uncle, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Herbert Andrew Montagu Douglas Scott, Alice was also first cousin to Marian Louisa Montagu Douglas Scott, the grandmother of Sarah, Duchess of York. Princess Alice's niece, Princess Alexandra of Kent, who was likewise born on Christmas Day, shares the name Christabel in honour of their shared birth date.

Early life

Lady Alice was born, in Montagu House, Whitehallmarker, Londonmarker, on Christmas Day 1901 as the third daughter of John Montagu Douglas Scott, Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, and his wife, the former Lady Margaret Bridgeman. She is therefore a descendant, in an unbroken male (though illegitimate) line, of King Charles II. She spent much of her childhood in her family's country homes: Boughton Housemarker in Northamptonshiremarker, Drumlanrig Castlemarker in Dumfries and Galloway, and Bowhill in the Scottish Borders. She attended the independent St James's School for Girls, in West Malvernmarker, Worcestershire and later travelled to Francemarker and Kenyamarker.


In August 1935, Lady Alice became engaged to Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the third son of King George V. They were married in a private ceremony, in the Private Chapel, Buckingham Palacemarker, on 6 November of that year. A much more elaborate wedding was originally planned for Westminster Abbeymarker; but after Lady Alice's father died of cancer on 19 October 1935, and in consideration of the King's own failing health, it was decided that the wedding should be scaled down to a more private setting.

Initially, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester lived in Aldershotmarker, where the Duke was taking the Army staff course. In 1935, the Duchess took a trip to open the new grounds of The Lady Eleanor Holles Schoolmarker. The Duke of Gloucester left the army to take on more public duties following the abdication of King Edward VIII in December 1936. The couple received a grace and favour residence at York House, St James's Palacemarker, London and, in 1938, they purchased Barnwell Manormarker in Northamptonshire. The Duke and Duchess had two sons:

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester travelled extensively to perform their royal duties. During World War II, the Duchess worked with the Red Crossmarker and the Order of St. John. She became head of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) in 1940, was given the honorary title of Air Chief Commandant WAAF in 1945 and promoted to Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Air Force in 1990. She also served as deputy to Queen Elizabeth, the consort of George VI as Commandant-in-Chief of the Nursing Corps. From 1945 to 1947, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester lived in Canberramarker, where the Duke was serving as Governor-General of Australia. The Duchess of Gloucester served as Colonel-in-Chief or deputy Colonel-in-Chief of a dozen regiments in the British Army, including the King's Own Scottish Borderers, the Northamptonshire Regiment, the 2nd East Anglian Regiment (Duchess of Gloucester's Own Royal Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire), the Royal Anglian Regiment, the Royal Hussars, and the Royal Irish Rangers (27th Inniskilling). She was also the Chancellor of the University of Derbymarker and Patron of the Girls' Day School Trust.

Change of Title

On 10 June 1974, Prince Henry died and was succeeded as Duke of Gloucester by their second son, Prince Richard (The couple's elder son, Prince William, had been killed in an aeroplane crash in 1972). The Duke's widow requested permission from her niece, The Queen, to use the title and style HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester instead of HRH The Dowager Duchess of Gloucester. The Queen allowed her aunt to adopt this title, in part to avoid confusion with her daughter-in-law, the new Duchess of Gloucester (formerly Birgitte Eva van Deurs). Princess Alice also apparently did not wish to be known as a Dowager Duchess and so followed the example of her late sister-in-law, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, following the marriage of her elder son in June 1961. However, Princess Marina was a Princess-by-birth. The de facto Dowager Duchess of Gloucester was allowed to be known as Princess Alice as a courtesy from the Queen. Although not born a Princess nor created a Princess by letters patent, the Princess was entitled to style herself as a British Princess due to her recognized marriage to a prince who was the son of a monarch.

Later life

In 1975, Princess Alice was the first woman to be appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. In 1981, she first published her memoirs under the title The Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. In 1991, she released a revised edition as Memories of Ninety Years.

In 1994, after the Gloucesters had to give up Barnwell Manor for financial reasons, Princess Alice moved from Barnwell to Kensington Palacemarker, where she lived with the current Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. In 1999, the Duke of Gloucester issued a press release announcing that due to physical frailty, his mother would no longer carry out public engagements outside the environs of Kensington Palace.

In December 2001, the Royal Family held a ceremony to acknowledge Princess Alice’s 100th birthday. This was Princess Alice's last public appearance (and also the last public appearance of The Princess Margaret, the Queen's sister). On 24 July 2003, Princess Alice surpassed Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother's record as the oldest person in the history of the British Royal Family.

Princess Alice died on 29 October 2004 in her sleep at Kensington Palace, at the age of 102. Her funeral was held on 5 November 2004, at St. George's Chapel, Windsormarker, and she was interred next to her husband, Prince Henry, and her elder son, Prince William, in the Royal Burial Groundmarker at Frogmoremarker. The Funeral was attended by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family. A memorial service was held at St. Clement Danesmarker on 2 February 2005.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 25 December 1901 – 5 November 1935: The Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott
  • 6 November 1935 – 10 June 1974: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester
  • 10 June 1974 – 29 October 2004: Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester

At the time of her death, Princess Alice's full style was Her Royal Highness Princess Alice Christabel, Duchess of Gloucester, Countess of Ulster and Baroness Culloden, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Companion of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.


British Honours

Foreign Honours
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown, 1938
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Virtues (Nishan al-Kamal), 1950
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Queen of Sheba, 1958



External links


  • Ronald Allison and Sarah Riddell, eds., The Royal Encyclopedia (London: Macmillan, 1991), ISBN 0-333-53810-2.
  • Marlene A. Eilers, Queen Victoria's Descendants (New York: Atlantic International Publishing, 1987), ISBN 91-630-5964-9.
  • Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, The Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (London: Collins, 1983), ISBN 0-00-216646-1.
  • Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, Memories of Ninety Years (London: Collins & Brown Ltd, 1991), ISBN 1-85585-048-6.

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