Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester
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|Duchess of Gloucester (more)|
The Duchess of Gloucester c.1939, wearing GBE riband and star, the Order of the Crown of India and the Royal Family Orders of George V and George VI.
|Spouse||Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester
(1935–1974; his death)
|Issue||Prince William of Gloucester
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
|House||House of Windsor (by marriage)|
|Father||John Montagu Douglas Scott, 7th Duke of Buccleuch|
|Mother||Lady Margaret Bridgeman|
25 December 1901|
Montagu House, London, England, UK
|Died||29 October 2004
Kensington Palace, London, England, UK
|Burial||5 November 2004
Frogmore, Windsor, Berkshire, England, UK
HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester GCB GCVO GBE CI (born Alice Christabel Montagu Douglas Scott; 25 December 1901 – 29 October 2004) was the wife and then widow of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the third son of George V and Mary of Teck.
The daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry, Scotland’s largest landowner, her brothers Walter and William and her nephew John were all Conservative MPs. She was sister-in-law to Edward VIII and George VI and aunt to Elizabeth II. She was the mother of Prince William of Gloucester, who died at age 30, and Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Her first cousin, Marian Louisa Montagu Douglas Scott, was the grandmother of Sarah, Duchess of York, wife of Alice’s great-nephew, Prince Andrew, Duke of York.
Princess Alice's niece, Princess Alexandra, who was likewise born on Christmas Day, shares the name Christabel in honour of their shared birth date.
Lady Alice was born, in Montagu House, Whitehall, London, on Christmas Day 1901 as the third daughter of John Montagu Douglas Scott, Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, and the former Lady Margaret Bridgeman, daughter of George Bridgeman, 4th Earl of Bradford. She was therefore a descendant, in an unbroken male (though illegitimate) line, of King Charles II. She spent much of her childhood in her family's country homes: Boughton House in Northamptonshire, Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway, and Bowhill in the Scottish Borders. She attended the independent St James's School for Girls, in West Malvern, Worcestershire, and later travelled to France and Kenya.
In August 1935, Lady Alice became engaged to Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the third son of King George V. They were married in a private ceremony, in the Private Chapel, Buckingham Palace, on 6 November of that year. A much more elaborate wedding was originally planned for Westminster Abbey; but after the new Duchess of Gloucester's father died of cancer on 19 October 1935, and in consideration of the King's own failing health, it was decided that the wedding should be scaled down to a more private setting. Her bridemaids were her sister the Lady Angela Montagu-Douglas-Scott, her nieces, the Lady Elizabeth Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Miss Clare Phipps, Miss Anne Hawkins, her husband's nieces Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose of York, her cousin Miss Moyra Montagu-Douglas-Scott and her husband's cousin the Lady Mary Cambridge.
Initially, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester lived in Aldershot, where the Duke was taking the Army staff course. In 1935, the Duchess took a trip to open the new grounds of The Lady Eleanor Holles School. The Duke of Gloucester left the army to take on more public duties following the abdication of King Edward VIII in December 1936. The couple received a grace and favour residence at York House, St James's Palace, London and, in 1938, they purchased Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire. The Duke and Duchess had two sons:
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester travelled extensively to perform their royal duties. During World War II, the Duchess worked with the Red Cross and the Order of St John. She became head of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) in 1939 as Senior Controller, changed to Air Commandant in 1940, and appointed Air Chief Commandant on 4 March 1943, when she took over as director until August 1944. Later she was promoted to Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Air Force in 1990. She also served as deputy to Queen Elizabeth, the consort of George VI, as Commandant-in-Chief of the Nursing Corps. From 1945 to 1947, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester lived in Canberra, where the Duke was serving as Governor-General of Australia. The Duchess of Gloucester served as Colonel-in-Chief or deputy Colonel-in-Chief of a dozen regiments in the British Army, including the King's Own Scottish Borderers, the Northamptonshire Regiment, the 2nd East Anglian Regiment (Duchess of Gloucester's Own Royal Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire), the Royal Anglian Regiment, the Royal Hussars, and the Royal Irish Rangers (27th Inniskilling); also, the Royal Corps of Transport. She was also the Chancellor of the University of Derby and Patron of the Girls' Day School Trust and Queen Margaret College.
Change of title
On 10 June 1974, Prince Henry died, and was succeeded as Duke of Gloucester by their second son, Prince Richard (the couple's elder son, Prince William, had been killed in an aeroplane crash in 1972). The Duke's widow requested permission from her niece, the Queen, to use the title and style HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester instead of HRH The Dowager Duchess of Gloucester. The Queen allowed her aunt to adopt this title, in part to avoid confusion with her daughter-in-law, the new Duchess of Gloucester (formerly Birgitte Eva van Deurs). Princess Alice apparently did not wish to be known as a Dowager Duchess and so followed the example of her late sister-in-law, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, following the marriage of her elder son in June 1961. However, Princess Marina was a princess of Greece and Denmark by birth, a title she did not lose upon marriage. The de facto Dowager Duchess of Gloucester was allowed to be known as Princess Alice as a courtesy from the Queen. Although neither born nor created a princess by letters patent, the Princess was entitled to style herself as a British princess due to her recognised marriage to a prince who was the son of a monarch (See: British princess). Normally, non-royal women who marry royal princes are styled "[her own Christian name], Princess [husband's Christian name]"; only princesses by blood are styled "Princess [her own Christian name]".
In 1975, Princess Alice was the first woman to be appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath. In 1981, she first published her memoirs under the title The Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. In 1991, she released a revised edition as Memories of Ninety Years.
In 1994, after the Gloucesters had to give up Barnwell Manor for financial reasons, Alice moved from Barnwell to Kensington Palace, where she lived with the current Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. In 1999, the Duke issued a press release announcing that due to physical frailty, his mother would no longer carry out public engagements outside the environs of Kensington Palace. In December 2001, the Royal Family held a ceremony to acknowledge Princess Alice's 100th birthday. This was Princess Alice's last public appearance (as well as the last public appearance of Princess Margaret, the Queen's younger sister, who died on 9 February 2002). On the death of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother at age 101 in March 2002, Princess Alice became the oldest living member of the British Royal Family. On 21 August 2003, Princess Alice surpassed The Queen Mother's record as the oldest person in the history of the British Royal Family.
Princess Alice died on 29 October 2004 in her sleep at Kensington Palace at age 102. Her funeral was held on 5 November 2004, at St George's Chapel, Windsor, and she was interred next to her husband, Prince Henry, and her elder son, Prince William, in the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore. The Funeral was attended by Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British Royal Family. A memorial service was held at St Clement Danes on 2 February 2005, which was attended by her son and his family and representatives of organisations Princess Alice was involved in; the service was co-ordinated by the Royal Air Force in respect of Princess Alice's role as Commandant-in-Chief WRAF.
Hugo Vikers called Princess Alice "a very private person who was not widely known to the general public" despite being the third highest ranking lady in the royal family at the time of her marriage. It was well known she disliked large parties. Peter Townsend said of her "Aunt Alice possessed classic, serene good looks and sincerity shone from her mild face. But she was painfully shy, so that conversation with her was sometimes halting and unrewarding, for you felt that she had so much more to say, but could not bring herself to say it." Although generally a woman of few and soft spoken words, Princess Alice was known for her dry humour. While driving home from Winston Churchill's funeral in 1965, she was badly injured after her husband fell asleep at the wheel (or possibly had a stroke). On the occasion she wrote "I was sat beside him to grab the wheel or put my foot on the brake if he fell asleep and lost control, but on that occasion I must have dozed off myself. Apparently the Rolls swerved off the rode (and) ended upside down in a field of cabbages. Prince Henry had luckily been thrown through the open door...into (stinging) nettles and brambles". On another occasion, soon after her marriage, when the couple moved to York House, they were warned that the drawing-room floor would not stand the weight of more than twenty people "so we made a party list" recalled the Duchess many years later "of the twenty-one people we disliked most". The Queen Mother said of Princess Alice after her son's death "The tragic accident was a great shock to all the family, but i feel desperately for his dear little mother. She has the courage of a lion, and has suffered so many cruel blows in the past few years...".
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
- 25 December 1901 – 5 November 1935: The Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott
- 6 November 1935 – 10 June 1974: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester
- 10 June 1974 – 29 October 2004: Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester
At the time of her death, Princess Alice's full style was Her Royal Highness Princess Alice Christabel, Duchess of Gloucester, Countess of Ulster and Baroness Culloden, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Companion of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
During her tenure in Australia, her titles remained unchanged, and she continued to style herself 'HRH the Duchess of Gloucester.'
- GCB: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, 2 April 1975
- CI: Companion of the Crown of India, 9 June 1937
- GCVO: Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, 1948
- GBE: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, 11 May 1937
- GCStJ: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St. John, 1936
- Royal Family Order of King George V, 1935
- Royal Family Order of King George VI, 1937
- Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II, 1952
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown, 1938
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Virtues (Nishan al-Kamal), 1950
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Queen of Sheba, 1958
|Ancestors of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester|
- As a titled royal, Alice held no surname after her marriage, but, when one was used, it was Windsor.
- HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, Memories of Ninety Years, London: Collins & Brown Ltd., 1991, p. 138.
- "Queen's tribute to Princess Alice". BBC News. 30 October 2004. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- "A VERY PRIVATE PERSON". http://archive.spectator.co.uk/. The Spectator. 1991.
- Duchess of Gloucester pp. 187-188
- Aronson p. 110
- Vikers, p. 406
- "Viewing Page 3729 of Issue 34406". London-gazette.co.uk. 8 June 1937. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- Official biography[dead link]
- The Titular Dignity of Prince in the British Royal Family since 1714[dead link]
- BBC News obituary
- Regiments.org listing[dead link]
- Avideo of HRH Princess Alice launching a ship at Devonport, UK on YouTube
- Ronald Allison and Sarah Riddell, eds., The Royal Encyclopedia (London: Macmillan, 1991), ISBN 0-333-53810-2.
- Marlene A. Eilers, Queen Victoria's Descendants (New York: Atlantic International Publishing, 1987), ISBN 91-630-5964-9.
- Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, The Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (London: Collins, 1983), ISBN 0-00-216646-1.
- Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, Memories of Ninety Years (London: Collins & Brown Ltd, 1991), ISBN 1-85585-048-6.
- Vickers, Hugo (2006), Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, Arrow Books/Random House, ISBN 978-0-09-947662-7
- Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alice (1983), The Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, Collins, ISBN 0-00-216646-1
- Aronson, Theo (2014), The Royal Family at War, Thistle Publishing, ISBN 978-1910198032
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