Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse

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Today marks the Anniversary of the Death of Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, who died on this day in 1878. Born the third child and second daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1843, Princess Alice grew up between Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Osbourne House, and Balmoral Castle, educated under a system devised by the Prince’s friend and advisor Baron Stockmar. After Prince Albert’s sudden death in 1861, Princess Alice acted as her mother’s unofficial secretary until her gloomy wedding to Prince Louis of Hesse, heir to the Grand Duchy. The couple had seven children, including  the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, making her the grandmother of Princess Alice of Greece, Queen Louise of Sweden, and Lord Mountbatten, and great-grandmother of the Duke of Edinburgh. Princess Alice was a prolific patron of women’s causes and showed an interest in nursing, devoting a lot of her time, while heavily pregnant, to the management of field hospitals during the Austro-Prussian War. In 1877, Princess Alice became the Grand Duchess of Hesse upon the accession of her husband, and the following year, diphtheria infected the Hessian court, and Grand Duchess nursed her family for over a month before falling ill herself, dying on the anniversary of her father’s death.

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