Princess Alice, the daughter of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse, was born Princess Victoria Alice Elizabeth Julia Marie in Windsor Castle in 1885. She was diagnosed with deafness as a young child, a quality that many speculate made her especially sensitive to the downtrodden. Princess Alice married Prince Andrew of Greece in 1903. The couple had five children: four daughters and a son – Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and consort to Queen Elizabeth II of England.
During World War II, Princess Alice lived in the Athens palace of her brother in law, Prince George of Greece, and worked with the Swedish and Swiss Red Cross. In 1941, when Germany invaded Greece, the Cohens, a Jewish family well acquainted with the royals, fled to Athens – then still under Italian rule. Following Italy’s surrender, the Germans occupied Athens and Haimaki Cohen’s widow, Rachel, and her five children desperately needed a place of refuge. Princess Alice heard of the family’s desperate situation and, risking certain death, offered to shelter Rachel and her daughter, Tilde, at her home. One of Rachel’s sons later joined them in hiding. Princess Alice used her deafness to defy the Gestapo, who questioned her on multiple occasions. The Cohens remained in Princess Alice’s residence until liberation.
In January 1949, Princess Alice founded a nursing order of Greek Orthodox nuns – the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary. Following the colonels’ coup d’etat in Greece in 1967 she went back to England and moved to Buckingham Palace to be close to her son and his family. She died in London in December 1969 at the age of 84.
In 1993, Yad Vashem bestowed the title of Righteous Among the Nations on Princess Alice. Of the honor, Prince Philip said, “I suspect that it never occurred to her that her action was in any way special. She was a person with deep religious faith and she would have considered it to be a totally human action to fellow human beings in distress.”