Prince William pays tribute to the ‘incredible courage’ of his great-grandmother Princess Alice whose story of saving a Jewish family from the Nazis ‘must keep being told in her memory’

  • William and wife Kate attended Holocaust Memorial Day service in Westminster
  • He read out letter written by a friend of his great-grandmother’s, Princess Alice
  • She was famed for saving a Jewish family by hiding them in her home in Greece
  • They later escaped once the Nazis had left and were forever indebted to her  

Prince William recalled how his great-grandmother saved a Jewish family from the Nazis by hiding them in her home, as he and his wife marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in London today.

The Duke of Cambridge read out a letter sent by a friend of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, who was famed for offering the Jewish family refuge at her Athens home after Hitler’s Army arrived in Greece, at the Holocaust Memorial Day event. 

Princess Alice of Battenberg was the Duke of Edinburgh’s mother and is known as Aunt Alice by William and his family. 

She has recently been portrayed by actress Jane Lapotaire in the Neflix hit The Crown.  

William revealed he and Kate have told their children about the Holocaust when he spoke on stage at Central Hall in Westminster today. 

The letter paid tribute to Alice’s ‘incredible courage’ and insisted her story of bravery ‘must keep being told in her memory’.  

Prince William recalled how his great-grandmother saved a Jewish family from the Nazis by hiding them in her home as he and his wife marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in London today

The Duke of Cambridge (pictured lighting a candle to remember victims) read out a letter sent by a friend of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, who was famed for offering the Jewish family refuge at her Athens home after Hitler’s Army arrived in Greece

Kate helped to light candles to represent each of the 75 that have passed since the liberation of Auschwitz at Central Hall in Westminster today 

His wife appeared emotional as William read the letter out loud: ‘When the persecution of the Jews by the Germans began, Princess Alice asked to be informed about the fate of the Cohen family. 

‘Having been informed by friends and by her lady in waiting about the plight of Mrs Cohen and her young daughter, the Princess decided to offer her hospitality to the two ladies; in fact to hide them in her home despite the danger this entailed.

‘The Princess put a small two-room apartment on the third floor at the disposal of Mrs Cohen and her daughter. 

Princess Alice (pictured left) was the Duke of Edinburgh’s (right) mother and is known as Aunt Alice by William and his family

Jane Lapotaire stars as Princess Alice of Battenberg in The Crown on Netflix 

‘It was thanks to the courageous rescue of Princess Alice that the members of the Cohen family were saved.

How Princess Alice bravely saved a Jewish family from the Holocaust

Princess Alice died in 1969

Princess Alice of Battenberg was famed for saving a Jewish family from the Holocaust during the Second World War by sheltering them in her home.

The deeply religious woman was formally recognised by the State of Israel for her bravery in harbouring a Jewish mother and some of her children from the Nazis.

A nun for many years, Alice, who was married to Prince Andrew of Greece, died in 1969 and was first laid to rest in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

But it was her wish to be interred at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, a Russian orthodox church on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, near her aunt Elizabeth, the Grand Duchess of Russia, and her remains were moved there in 1988.

Earlier this week, William met Evy and Philippe Cohen, descendants of Rachel Cohen who was sheltered along with some of her children by Princess Alice during the Nazi occupation of Greece.

William’s homage today followed in the footsteps of his father Charles, the Prince of Wales, and grandfather Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who had also visited Princess Alice’s grave.

 

‘The members of the Cohen family left the residence three weeks after liberation, aware that by virtue of the Princess’s generosity and bravery had spared them from the Nazis.

‘The great-granddaughter of Rachel Cohen, Evy Cohen, said this two years ago: ‘My family would not exist without the courageous act of Princess Alice. 

‘Her story of incredible courage must keep being told in her memory.

‘My generation, the past generation and the future generation are, and will eternally be, grateful to his great-grandmother Princess Alice for the great act of bravery, risking her own life to take in a family in need.’

Last week Prince Charles, her grandson, visited her tomb on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. 

The royal couple also lit candles in memory of those killed during Hitler’s reign of terror in Europe, as well as genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, before meeting survivors. 

The Cambridges lit six of the 75 candles that shone on stage to represent each of the 75 years that have passed since the Polish death camp was liberated. 

Survivors and the families struggled to hold back tears as the royals and other esteemed guests addressed crowds.  

Today’s deeply moving ceremony reflected on one of the darkest periods in human history, when 11million victims – including six million Jews – were gassed, shot and starved in Nazi death camps.

The notorious train-track entrance to Auschwitz, through which over a million were taken to their deaths, was stormed by the Red Army on January 27, 1945. 

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation with commemorative events taking place across Europe and beyond.  

William read an extract from a letter written by a friend of his great-grandmother Princess Alice – famed for saving a Jewish family from the Holocaust – about her good deeds

The Cambridges looked emotional as 75 candles shone to represent the 75 years that have passed since Auschwitz was liberated 

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