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Charles lays flowers on tomb of grandmother Princess Alice in Jerusalem

UK News | Published:

The princess harboured a Jewish family during the Second World War after the Nazis occupied Athens.

The Prince of Wales has paid his respects at the tomb of his grandmother Princess Alice – famed for harbouring a Jewish family during the Second World War.

Charles laid flowers on her final resting place at the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem as his two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories came to an end.

Draped on her tomb was a Greek royal standard which the prince had made in London after the original had become moth-eaten and tatty.

He commissioned a new flag for his grandmother, who was married to Prince Andrew of Greece, after visiting her tomb on the Mount of Olives for the first time in 2016 and seeing its condition.

Charles visits the tomb of Princess Alice
Charles visits the tomb of Princess Alice (Neil Hall/PA)

Extensive research was carried out, including consultations with members of the Greek royal family, to make sure the colours were right.

Alice, who lived at Buckingham Palace in her final years, died in 1969 when Charles was 20.

She was buried in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle but it was not until 1988 that her final wish was fulfilled and her body was taken to the Russian Orthodox church of St Mary Magdalene where her aunt Ella was buried.

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Charles laid flowers on the tomb in a vault beneath the church, while nuns sang a prayer of repose for the dead. The flowers had been picked in the morning from the garden of the British consul general in Jerusalem.

Prince Philip as a baby being held by Princess Alice
Prince Philip as a baby being held by Princess Alice (Duke of Edinburgh/Royal/PA)

In September 1943, as the Nazis occupied Athens, Mr Cohen’s widow Rachel and her five children were left desperately seeking refuge and were helped by Charles’s grandmother.

Alice, who was married to Prince Andrew of Greece, once used her deafness to convince the visiting Gestapo that she did not understand them and could not let them in to search her property.

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Her bravery was recognised by Israel which in 1993 posthumously bestowed the title of Righteous Among the Nations on her.

Charles during a visit to the Church of Mary Magdalene
Charles during a visit to the Church of Mary Magdalene (Neil Hall/PA)

“I asked His Royal Highness if he could possibly send a new one, and he did, within a year or so. It looks lovely.

“He has the old one which we sent to him. He hung it up in his house over his staircase. He said he has both standards of both grandmothers now there, next to each other.

“He comes here and he can say a prayer. He knew Princess Alice very well.”

After the prayer, Charles had a few moments alone in the vault with James Jones, a retired Bishop of Liverpool and a friend of the prince.

Fr Krassovsky said: “For a small period of time they closed the doors, they were there alone. It is something special. It is something that is very personal.

“He also has a very strong interest in the Orthodox church, so all this together is quite a special thing for him.”

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