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Prince Charles praises ‘selfless’ heroism of Princess Alice of Greece

Prince Charles paid homage on Thursday to his grandmother, Princess Alice, for sheltering Jews in Nazi-occupied Greece during World War II.

The Prince of Wales was addressing a Holocaust memorial ceremony attended by some 40 world leaders in Jerusalem.

‘I have long drawn inspiration from the selfless actions of my dear grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, who in 1943 in Nazi-occupied Athens, saved a Jewish family by taking them into her home and hiding them,’ the prince said at the forum in the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre.

The Prince of Wales was addressing a Holocaust memorial ceremony attended by some 40 world leaders in Jerusalem today

Princess Alice of Greece, the mother of the Duke of Edinburgh, at London Airport in June 1965

Princess Alice of Greece, the mother of the Duke of Edinburgh, at London Airport in June 1965

‘My grandmother, who is buried on the Mount of Olives, has a tree planted in her name here at Yad Vashem and is counted as one of the Righteous Among the Nations … a fact which gives me and my family immense pride.’

Princess Alice of Battenberg and Greece was the mother-in-law of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. A devout Christian, she died in London in 1969 and had asked to be buried in Jerusalem, next to her aunt, who like Alice had become a nun and founded a convent.

In 1993, the princess received the highest honour Yad Vashem bestows on non-Jews for hiding three members of the Cohen family in her palace in Athens during World War Two.

Earlier on Thursday, Charles met Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and expressed a commitment to combat anti-Semitism.

During his speech Prince Charles also urged nations to learn the ‘lessons’ of the Holocaust as he joined world leaders in condemning the scourge of anti-Semitism.

Viewers of the Netflix-hit The Crown will be familiar with Princess Alice of Greece (pictured)

Viewers of the Netflix-hit The Crown will be familiar with Princess Alice of Greece (pictured)

He described the extermination of six million Jewish people during the Second World War as a ‘universal human tragedy’ affecting all, not just the families of those killed by the Nazi regime.

The heir to the throne spoke during the World Holocaust Forum in Israel and told guests, who included Russian President Vladimir Putin and France’s President Emmanuel Macron, the story of ‘incomprehensible humanity’ must not be forgotten.

And he warned that ‘hatred and intolerance still lurk in the human heart’ but society must remain ‘resolute in resisting words and acts of violence’.

Speaking at the gathering, the largest international event in Israel’s history, staged at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem, Charles said: ‘The Holocaust was an appalling Jewish tragedy, but it was also a universal human tragedy, and one which we compound if we do not heed its lessons.’

How Princess Alice bravely saved a Jewish family from the Holocaust

Princess Alice died in 1969

Princess Alice died in 1969

Princess Alice of Battenberg was famed for saving a Jewish family from the Holocaust during the Second World War by sheltering them in her home.

The deeply religious woman was formally recognised by the State of Israel for her bravery in harbouring a Jewish mother and some of her children from the Nazis.

A nun for many years, Alice, who was married to Prince Andrew of Greece, died in 1969 and was first laid to rest in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

But it was her wish to be interred at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, a Russian orthodox church on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, near her aunt Elizabeth, the Grand Duchess of Russia, and her remains were moved there in 1988.

Earlier this week, William met Evy and Philippe Cohen, descendants of Rachel Cohen who was sheltered along with some of her children by Princess Alice during the Nazi occupation of Greece.

William’s homage today followed in the footsteps of his father Charles, the Prince of Wales, and grandfather Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who had also visited Princess Alice’s grave.

 

He told the guests, who featured the Kings of Spain and the Netherlands, the stories of the Holocaust belonged to many of those in the hall and Jewish people across the globe.

Charles added: ‘But we must never forget that they are also our story: a story of incomprehensible inhumanity, from which all humanity can and must learn.

‘For that an evil cannot be described does not mean that it cannot be defeated.

‘That it cannot be fully understood, does not mean that it cannot be overcome.’

Warning that intolerance was never far away, he said: ‘We must be vigilant in discerning these ever-changing threats; we must be fearless in confronting falsehoods and resolute in resisting words and acts of violence.’

During his speech Charles also paid tribute to the ‘selfless actions’ of his grandmother, Princess Alice, who in 1943 while living in Nazi-occupied Greece sheltered a Jewish family in her own home.

In 1993 Yad Vashem bestowed the title of Righteous Among The Nations on her and she is buried at the nearby Mount of Olives.

Charles described the title as ‘a fact which gives me and my family immense pride.’

The presidents of France, Germany and Russia were among those to deliver speeches to the forum, held to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz being liberated by Soviet troops on January 27 1945.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier acknowledged during his speech that ‘the worst crime in the history of humanity was committed by my countrymen’.

He added: ‘Seventy five years later after the liberation of Auschwitz I stand before you all as president of Germany and laden with the heavy historical burden of guilt.’

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