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Princess Alice of Battenberg: the incredible true story of Prince Philip’s mother | USA

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She was born with congenital deafness, diagnosed with schizophrenia, committed to a sanatorium, she rescued Jews from the Nazis (despite her daughters being married to high-ranking members of the Nazi Party) and founded her own religious order of nuns. The life of Princess Alice of Battenberg is an embodiment of the old saying that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. The mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died on April 9 aged 99, makes her first appearance halfway through the award-winning Netflix drama The Crown and could easily be the subject for an entire series of her own.

Princess Alice of Battenberg in a portrait taken around 1910.
Princess Alice of Battenberg in a portrait taken around 1910. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The fourth episode of season three focuses on the inner traumas and insecurities the husband of Queen Elizabeth II harbored in his complicated relationship with his mother, who is portrayed in The Crown by English actress Jane Lapotaire. With a certain amount of creative license, the story picks up on the life of this largely unknown royal figure when she is attempting to sell a sapphire brooch in Athens to raise funds for her congregation. After the 1967 military coup in Greece, Alice of Battenberg moved into Buckingham Palace, in the fictional version occupying a small attic room where she shared cigarettes and secrets with her granddaughter, Princess Anne. “She ran her own religious order and was always seeking funding. She sold the majority of her possessions and, in times of war, she gave her food rations to orphans or anybody else who needed them,” says historian Hugh Vickers in his book, The Crown Dissected, a historical analysis of the first three seasons of the series.

“She did move into Buckingham Palace in 1967, but she wasn’t installed in a sad little room as The Crown suggests, instead she occupied a spacious apartment with views on the first floor. It is true that she was close to Princess Anne, with whom she developed a very personal relationship.” However, it is not true that she was the focus of a feature in the British daily The Guardian. “That’s ridiculous. She was a very private person. She didn’t give interviews. She was so reserved that she destroyed all her letters and, when she died, she only left three dresses,” Vickers told the British newspaper The Times.

Prince Philip with his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg on March 7, 1960.
Prince Philip with his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg on March 7, 1960.GETTY

Princess Alice of Battenberg was born at Windsor Castle in 1885 in the presence of her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. She was married at the age of 18 to Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, with whom she had five children: four daughters and a son, Philip, who would later become consort to Elizabeth II. In 1922, when Philip was still an infant, the family were exiled from Greece and they swiftly became separated. Philip was educated at boarding schools in England and Scotland, while his father lived by his own means in Monte Carlo and Alice was interned at a Swiss sanatorium after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Further complicating family reunions, Alice and Andrew’s four daughters married into the German nobility, some of their husbands being fervent supporters of National Socialism, while Philip was joined the British Royal Navy.

In 1930, Princess Alice was put through the wringer by the experiments of Sigmund Freud. A 2012 documentary, The Queen’s Mother in Law, explained how the father of psychoanalysis diagnosed all of Alice’s problems as being down to her hormone levels and “sexual frustration.” Freud prescribed a course of X-rays to be applied to her ovaries to accelerate the menopausal process. The treatment was a failure and only served to condemn her to lifelong health problems. She fled the sanatorium and returned to Greece, where she founded an orthodox convent. Like something from a Greek tragedy, she was only reunited with her family in 1937 when they all attended the funeral of her daughter Princess Cecilie, who died with her husband and two sons in an airplane accident in Belgium on her way to attend her brother-in-law Prince Ludwig’s wedding in London.

The wedding day of Princess Elizabeth (c) and Prince Philip, attended by Alice of Battenberg (5th l).
The wedding day of Princess Elizabeth (c) and Prince Philip, attended by Alice of Battenberg (5th l). STR – / AFP

Rebecca Cope says in an article for Tatler that during World War II, Princess Alice worked for the Red Cross. She certainly had experience in the area. During the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, she had served as a nurse, setting up field hospitals and assisting surgeries on wounded soldiers. During the occupation of Athens by Italian and German forces, she helped to hide a Jewish family, the Cohens, who in 1913 had helped members of King George I’s family escape into exile. From that moment on, Alice became fully committed to charitable and humanitarian work through her convent, the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary, which she founded in 1949. A profoundly spiritual and religious person, she took an interest in various doctrines throughout her life. She attended the royal wedding of Philip and Elizabeth and her daughter-in-law’s coronation in 1953, arriving at the latter dressed in the nun’s habit of her order. She also had the engagement ring that Philip used to propose to the future Queen Elizabeth II made from the few jewels she had not sold during the 1940s.

Princess Alice of Battenberg was exiled from Greece again in 1967 in the aftermath of the Greek junta and lived at Buckingham Palace with her son and daughter-in-law until her death in 1969.

English version by Rob Train.

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Germany’s flood zones spared severe storms on Saturday

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In the west of the country, the fire brigade reported a quiet night in the flood areas in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine Westphalia.

The situation remains tense, however, with local thunderstorms forecast in some parts of Germany from midday on Sunday — most likely south of the Danube.

Further heavy rain and hail were also possible again, according to the German Weather Service (DWD), which publishes storm warnings.

READ ALSO: WEATHER: German flood zones at risk of further storms

The latest storms came just days after parts of the country were hit by devastating floods after torrential rains that ravaged entire villages and left 180 people dead, hundreds injured and with many still missing.

The flooding also caused damage in Belgium, where 37 people died, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.



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Prosecutors allege R Kelly had sexual contact with under-age boy

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US prosecutors in R Kelly’s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an under-age boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming sex-trafficking trial to hear those claims.

Federal prosecutors aired a wide-ranging raft of additional allegations – but not new charges – against the R&B singer in a court filing on Friday.

Jury selection is due to start August 9th in a New York federal court for Kelly, who denies ever abusing anyone.

The Grammy Award-winning singer is charged with leading what prosecutors call a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who allegedly helped him to recruit women and girls for sex and pornography and to exercise control over them.

The charges involve six different women and girls, who are not named in court filings.

Now, prosecutors would also like jurors to hear about more than a dozen other people whom the government alleges that Kelly sexually or physically abused, threatened or otherwise mistreated.

Among them, the government says, was a 17-year-old boy and aspiring musician whom Kelly met at a McDonald’s in December 2006 and later invited to his Chicago studio.

According to the prosecutors’ court filing, after asking the boy what he would do to make it in the music business, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with him while he was still under-age.

And when Kelly was about to go on trial on child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the same youth told the singer he had access to a juror, and Kelly asked him to contact the juror and vouch he was a “good guy”, prosecutors wrote.

The filing does not say whether the youth did so. Kelly was acquitted in that case.

The boy also introduced Kelly to a 16- or 17-year-old male friend, with whom prosecutors say the singer began a sexual relationship several years later.

Kelly also filmed the two youths in sexual encounters with other people, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, according to the filing.

Prosecutors wrote that the accounts of the boys and others would help show that the actual charges “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern”.

The multiplatinum-selling singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is known for work including the 1996 hit I Believe I Can Fly and the cult classic Trapped In The Closet, a multi-part tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.

Kelly’s private life has drawn scrutiny since the 1990s, and he currently is also facing sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He has pleaded not guilty.– AP

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Fears mount in western Germany as fresh rain falls

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For some areas, the German Weather Service has forecast heavy showers or storms, bringing between 30 and 40 litres per square metre.

Amid further rainfall on Saturday afternoon, evacuation services to emergency accommodation were offered to communities in Rheinland-Palatinate who had been particularly badly affected by the flooding, German news site Merkur reported.

“The people will have to make the decision themselves,” said Begona Hermann, head of the relief teams in the west German state, explaining that the forecast rainfall was not expected to be as severe as that which devastated parts of Germany last week.  

READ ALSO: German floods death toll hits 180, with 150 still missing

However, even lower levels of rainfall could still be a problem because sewage and drainage systems were not working properly because of the flooding.

Earlier on Saturday, police requested all volunteers working on the clean-up operation in the Ahr area to leave as quickly as possible for their own safety because of the difficult conditions.

This came after the police and the crisis management team asked the public not to travel to Rhineland-Palatinate to help out because there were too many people there.

“The population’s willingness to help continues to be undiminished and overwhelming,” read a Kassel police statement on Saturday. Due to the large number of volunteers who came to help out, however, roads in the area are now congested, it said.

Heavy machinery required for road and bridge construction, and for the restoration of the area’s water supply, was getting stuck in traffic jams, the press release said.

Vehicles for removing rubbish and construction debris, as well as emergency and rescue vehicles, were also unable to get through.



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