You’ve likely heard of Prince Philip, late husband to the Queen of England. Someone you might not know much about, but who played a highly influential role in his life, is Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark. This lady is none other than Prince Philip’s mother. (1)
Prince Philip’s Mother, Alice, Princess Andrew
Prince Philip’s mother Alice was also known as Princess Alice of Greece and Denmark, however, her title before marriage was Princess of Battenberg. Despite the prestigious title, her life was anything but easy. For starters, she was deaf from birth. This did not stop her, however, and she quickly learned to be an incredible lip reader, eventually in multiple languages. (1)
She had Prince Philip with her husband Prince Andrew in 1921 in Greece. Not long afterward, however, the royal family had to flee from Greece. They escaped just barely on a British gunboat and went to Paris. There, they lived in a house borrowed from family friends. (1)
Intense Stress Lead To Mental Health Problems
Naturally, being forced out of your home country, barely escaping with your life, while also still being a mother to five children (four daughters plus Prince Philip) was enormously stressful. Princess Andrew’s mental health suffered severely and left her completely incapable of raising her young son. Because of this, her own mother, the Prince’s grandmother, filled in for most of her motherly duties. (1)
The Princess had a complete breakdown, so they sent her to Germany for treatment. Experiencing intense religious visions, they sent her to another clinic in Switzerland. There, doctors diagnosed her with Schizophrenia. (1)
The Princess Caught Sigmund Freud’s Attention
The famed father of psychology, Sigmund Freud, heard about Princess Andrew’s condition. He came to inspect her and give his own diagnosis. His recommendation? Treat her ovaries with radiation and cause her to go into menopause. This was an absolutely horrible treatment; however, they moved forward with it regardless. (1)
From there, they sent her to various sanatoriums and clinics. She did not see or have any contact with her son for seven whole years. Finally, she recovered enough to write her now teenage son a letter. The pair reunited when Philip was 16, however, his father had no interest in having any kind of relationship with his wife. (1)
World War II
Princess Andrew lived in Greece during the second world war. There, she organized soup kitchens for the homeless and down-trodden. She was an ally to the Jewish people during this time, risking her own safety to hide a friend and her two children from the Nazis in her own home. The Nazis didn’t trust her and questioned her often. Unwaivered, she was known to tell them to kindly take all their soldiers and get out of her country. (1)
Many times, she used her deafness to her advantage. Despite her ability to read lips in several languages, she often pretended that she was unable to understand their questions. She organized a charity to provide free medical care for those who desperately needed it. To avoid abuse or being treated as prostitutes, she dressed herself and all of her nurses as nuns. (1)
Being Prince Philip’s mother – mother-in-law to the new Queen of England – proved to be advantageous. Philip provided her a house in Athens that she could use as a home base for her charity. (1)
Prince Philip’s Mother’s Relationship With Her Son
Despite the years she was absent from his life, Princess Andrew and Prince Philip had a close relationship. Often Philip would pilot his own small plane to Athens to take his mother to her medical appointments in Germany and back. She was a frequent guest at Buckingham Palace, where she and the Queen got along quite well. (1)
Always referring to him as Bubbikins, she wrote her son letters often. She was very proud of her son’s achievements and told him so often. The mother-son duo was quite similar and therefore argued frequently, but that did not take away from the fondness they had for each other. (1)
Princess Andrew died in 1969 at age 84, two years after her son finally convinced her to come to live at the palace full-time. These last two years were the most peaceful, restful years of her life. (1)
While it’s impossible to fully grasp the incredible life of Prince Philip’s mother and know everything that went on behind closed doors during her time in mental health care, one fact remains: She was a strong, resilient lady. In the late Prince’s life, it is clear that he inherited her bravery, strength, and tenacity.
For even more in depth information, check out this documentary below.
- “Reunited with the mother who called him ‘Bubbikins’: Born in Windsor Castle, died in Buckingham Palace – and in between, an astonishing life as a nun battling Nazis. Now HUGO VICKERS reveals her story, as told to him by her son Prince Philip”. The Daily Mail. April 16, 2021.