THE QUEEN'S MOTHER IN LAW

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Princess Alice of Greece Could you just imagine the sight of a princess dressed as a nun, whilst smoking a cigarette and walking through the grand halls of Buckingham Palace? Well, image no more. That's precisely what Princess Alice did in the late sixties, as illustrated in this one hour documentary produced by Channel 4 in 2012. Now stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Ha!


Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece


THE STORY:
In this one hour special, Mark Halliley chronicles the rather alternate life and times of Prince Philips Mother, Princess Alice. Now to complement Mark's oration, this show exhibits numerous pieces of never before seen archive footage, which is of course enhanced by stock photography and one on one interview's with people who knew of her existence. For example, there's Gyles Brandreth, Lady Pamela Hicks, Countess Mountbatten, Victor Ross, Hugo Vickers, Robert Lacey, Stella Cohen, plus a couple of Greeks and a German chap too.

What now follows is a basic break-down of how this program plays out:

  • What were Prince Alice's own origins?   She was born on the 25th of February, 1885, in Windsor Castle, England. Her Farther was Prince Louis of Battenberg. Her Mother was Princess Victoria of Hesse. And her Grandmother -- on her Fathers-side -- was the British Monarch, Queen Victoria the first.
  • What was her life like a young princess?   Well, although she was congenitally deaf at a very early age, Alice managed to cope with her condition, and grew up in England, Germany, and through out the Mediterranean.
  • Did she marry?   Yes. In 1903 Princess Alice married Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, plus they had five children together. Four girls and one boy. The boy was called Philip.
  • What was it like for her in Greece?   Difficult I'd say, because she was exiled from this country twice in her initial life there. In 1917 the Greek royal family were kicked out of Greece by warring rebels. And upon returning to Greece in 1919, three years later she and her husband were kicked out again because he was blamed for Greece's defeat in the Greco-Turkish War.
  • What happened after that?   After living in Paris for two years with her family, Alice suddenly started to experience homo-erotic religious fantasies -- possibly schizophrenia. Now obviously concerned with this strange turn of events, she was sent to a care home in Berlin, and was subjected to numerous experimental 'cures' helmed by Doctor Sigmund Freud.
  • Did this work? Allegedly, no. When she was released from this 'care home' two years later, her Mother had her committed once more in a sanatorium situated in Switzerland -- against her will.
  • What happened to her family during this time? Her husband stayed behind in Paris and distanced himself from her. One at a time her four daughters were married off to German royalty. And her son, Philip, was sent to stay with her Father -- now called Lord Mountbatten -- in England.
  • Did Alice ever get to see her family again? Kind of.. At the funeral of one of her daughters who died in a plane crash before World War 2.
  • Oh! I forgot about the war! Did Alice? No. She didn't. Once free from the sanatorium, she went back to Greece and helped hide Jewish refugees during the war. Then, sometime later, she founded an Orthodox nursing order called 'The Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary'.

EPILOGUE: After the 1967 coup in Greece demolished the throne there, Alice was invited by her son and new daughter-in-law to live with them at Buckingham Palace. She agreed, and died the 5th of December, 1969, in Buckingham Palace, England, before being buried in the Church of Maria, Jerusalem, in 1988.

It's what she would have wanted. 




THE REVIEW:
OK, I know that this may sound somewhat silly to you, but I did not know that Prince Philip had a Mum. Granted, like us all, I knew about the other 'Queen Mother' -- the one who lived up to 101 years of age, and wore all those blooming silly hats. But this one -- no -- not really. She's never been talked about all that much, has she? And I do find this very strange if given half a thought.

Well, we've seen the rise and fall of Princess Diana. We've all heard the rumours about Fergies bed-time antics. And we've all known about Prince Charles' 'affair' with the now Duchess of Cornwall. So why choose this precise moment in time to highlight a past royal who has never been spoken about? Is it because Prince Philip is touching ninety, and the media want to show him in a good light for a change? Does it have anything to do with Greece's recent economic troubles? Or what about because Alice deserves the recognition that she should have had all those years ago?

Personally, I like to think it's because of the last option I gave. But I seriously doubt it.


Prince Philip and Mum


Still, enough about the 'why', what about 'the story'? What life lesson can I gauge from watching 'The Queen's Mother In Law'? Never trust a Greek? No -- that's too generic. What about science was crap in the good old days? Hmmm? True -- but harsh. OK, so what about Princess Alice was one nice bird, who did some good with a rather arduous life?  Yeah. That sounds about right.

You see, to me, Princess Alice is the type of a person who was built way before her time. She's a do-er. Not a spectator. Who wanted to live a normal existence in a time when normality was not expected from a member of the Royal family. I am sure that if she was born in this more modern day and age that she would have been applauded for her actions and her demeanor. Not locked away from prying eyes.


Princess Alice of Greece


Though, come to think about it, how nuts was she? That's one of the only things this documentary does not really expand upon in too much detail. Granted, it does explain some of the things she said to justify this stance. But Alice's sanity could have been anything, couldn't it? A mild nervous breakdown after escaping Greece perhaps? As that does sound a lot more logical than what Doctor Sigmund (X-ray) Freud come up with. What do you say to that very melodious YouTube clip?




Sound's like a 'Yes' to me.

Nice documentary - touching subject - but still full of unanswered question.

THE RATING: B+