Prince Charles quietly visited his grandmother’s grave at a Jerusalem convent on Friday following his attendance at the funeral of former president Shimon Peres.
Charles attended the picturesque Church of St Mary Magdalene, above the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives, where his paternal grandmother Princess Alice of Battenberg, who saved a Jewish family during the Holocaust, was interred in the late 1980s.
During the visit, the Prince, who had long wanted to make the journey, placed flowers – which he picked himself from his Scottish retreat Birkhall.
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.
Princess Alice was an extraordinary woman. She was the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and was born at Windsor Castle in 1885. Earl Mountbatten of Burma was her younger brother. Congenitally deaf, she nevertheless learned to speak English and German. She led a most difficult life, in and out of exile from Greece (she had married Prince Andrew of Greece in 1903, becoming Princess of Greece).
During World War II, she lived in Athens and sheltered Jewish refugees there, for which was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the “righteous among the nations.” She lived the final years of her life in Buckingham Palace and died there in 1988, after which in accordance with her request her remains were interred on the Mount of Olives.
Her spirit is nicely suggested by this story: During World War II, the Nazis occupied Athens. When a German general asked her, “Is there anything I can do for you?” she replied “You can take your troops out of my country.”
Charles’s visit to Israel provided a rare opportunity for Charles to visit the site of his grandmother’s burial.
In October 1994, on a trip that marked the first time that a member of the British royal family had visited the State of Israel, Prince Philip attended a ceremony honoring his mother at Yad Vashem. The Duke of Edinburgh, met with members of the Cohen family whom his mother hid in her Athens palace for 13 months during the Nazi occupation of Greece.
A Telegraph report in late 2015 said British royals were unlikely to visit Israel before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.
“The Royal family can’t really go there,” a British government source told the newspaper at the time. “In Israel so much politics is caught up in the land itself that it’s best to avoid those complications altogether by not going there.”
We hope that an official visit from a Royal Family member will be not too far away.
Christians United for Israel UK