The Prince of Wales made a poignant visit to see his grandmother’s final resting place for the first time – bringing flowers from his garden at Birkhall to lay at her grave.
Heir to the throne Charles paid his respects at the crypt of the Duke of Edinburgh’s mother, Princess Alice of Greece, in Jerusalem on Friday after attending former Israeli president Shimon Peres’ funeral.
During the moving visit, the Prince, who had long wanted to make the journey in honour of his grandmother, placed flowers – which he picked himself from his Scottish retreat Birkhall – at her grave.
Princess Alice’s remains are buried at the picturesque Church of St Mary Magdalene, above the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives.
She died in 1969 and her remains lay at first in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. But her final wish was to be buried at the Russian orthodox convent on the Mount of Olives, near her aunt Elizabeth, the Grand Duchess of Russia, who was murdered by the Bolsheviks and declared a Russian Orthodox saint.
Charles also placed flowers at the grave of his ancestor the Grand Duchess.
Alice was re-interred in Jerusalem in 1988, but it was not until 1994 that the Duke of Edinburgh visited his mother’s grave when he travelled to Israel for a ceremony honouring her for saving Greek Jews during the Second World War.
In September 1943, the Cohen family, old acquaintances from the Greek town of Trikala, appealed to Princess Alice for refuge. She hid them in her palace until the Nazis withdrew in October 1944. During that time, the Nazis sent more than 85% of Greece’s Jewish community to concentration camps.
In 1993, Alice was posthumously awarded recognition as “Righteous among the Nations” by the Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem.
Born Princess Alice of Battenberg in Windsor in 1885, Alice married Prince Andrew of Greece, becoming Princess Andrew of Greece. She saw little of Philip when he was a child after falling ill and being committed to a sanatorium.
In later years, she went to live at Buckingham Palace and was said to walk around in a nun’s habit, smoking Woodbines. She founded an order of nuns and wore a habit to the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
The Prince looked moved as he was shown his grandmother’s final resting place during the private visit. Charles was only 21 when his grandmother died.
As youngsters, the Prince and his sister Princess Anne were pictured with Princess Alice in 1956, watching a passing ship from the rails of the Royal Yacht Britannia, while Alice lent on the rails, protectively holding Anne.
The Prince was accompanied by the head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, the Very Rev Archimandrite Roman Krassovsky.