After Louis Battenberg’s (later Louis Mountbatten) successful campaign to marry Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, the couple set about having babies. The first of these, Princess Alice, was born in 1885, and came into the world congenitally deaf. Given the era, no particular accommodations were made for her, and while her condition caused many to underestimate her, she compensated by learning to lip-read (in several languages) and spoke English, German, French, and, later, Greek.
Her marriage to Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark was happy only for a while, but the pair had five children. Alice occupied herself with charity work, and when hostilities broke out between Greece and Turkey, she served as a nurse at the front line, earning the deep affection of the Greek people. During the First World War, Greece exiled the royal family, and setting up in Paris, Alice and Andrew became estranged. He would ride out the rest of his life in the south of France with his mistress, while Alice’s life became strange and complicated.
She fell in unrequited love, though history has not retained the identity of her affection, and developed a religious fervor. She was hospitalized in sanitariums and treated with cutting edge techniques for schizophrenia, like hitting her abdomen with X-rays to destroy her ovaries. During her convalescence, which she wanted out of, her daughters married without her knowing and her youngest son, Prince Philip, gradually grew from a child to a man, with no real connection to his mother or father.
Alice spent World War II in Athens, caring for the poor and hungry, and sheltering a Jewish family. When the Nazi occupiers came to search her home, she leaned into her deafness, pretending not to understand what they wanted until they were so bamboozled they left empty handed. She founded a religious order, but when Greece again abolished the monarchy, her son Philip, now married to Queen Elizabeth II, ensured her safe passage to Great Britain, where she lived out her days simply and humbly, as a quiet resident of Buckingham Palace.
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Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece, by Hugo Vickers (Amazon)
No, Princess Alice Wasn’t Really Interviewed by a Guardian Journalist Named John Armstrong (townandcountrymag.com)