Thursday, 23 April 2015

Seven degrees of Alice separation

If just about everyone in the world is right and baby Cambridge is a girl called Alice then she will begin her life by costing the bookies around £50,000 in payouts. Not bad going for a newborn. The name Alice has been a hot favourite for a couple of months now, interesting for a kind of semi royal name which has - so far - hung around the edges of royal life rather than being truly centre stage.

Just about everyone seems convinced Kate is having a girl named Alice

If William and Kate's baby is a girl called Alice she will be seven generations on from the first woman to bear the name, in its modern form, in Britain's Royal Family. Here's how baby Cambridge number two, a possible Alice, is linked to that first woman - the great, great, great, great grandmother of Prince George and his sibling.

1.  Princess Alice of Great Britain

The royal woman who started it all off was born on April 25th 1843 at Buckingham Palace and christened Alice Maud Mary on June 2nd that year. The third child, and second daughter, of Queen Victoria is said to have been given her name to please Lord Melbourne who had been her mother's first Prime Minister and who is said to have loved that name.

Still the most famous Princess Alice, for now

Until the current rush of interest in her first name, Princess Alice was best known for her kind nature, devotion to children and charity and the sad fact that she was the first of Victoria's nine children to die. Alice had married Louis of Hesse in 1862 as her family was in deep mourning for her father Prince Albert, who had died in December 1861. Louis and Alice had seven children and were devoted parents. When diptheria hit the household, Alice lost a daughter called Marie and while comforting another of her children over the death she caught the illness herself and died in December 1878 on the anniversary of Prince Albert's death.  But her name would live on...

2.  Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine

Victoria Alberta Elisabeth Mathilde Marie was the eldest daughter of Princess Alice and Prince Louis of Hesse and would provide the link between Victoria's daughter and the House of Windsor that has propelled the name Alice into pole position as a favourite for a baby Cambridge. This princess was born at Windsor Castle on Easter Sunday 1863 (April 5th that year) and after her mother's death she said that her own childhood ended with that loss as she became more responsible for the young brothers and sisters left behind.

Daughter of an Alice, mother of an Victoria

She married Prince Louis of Battenberg in 1884 and was living in Russia at the start of the Great War, leaving on what was dubbed 'the last ship' in 1914. In 1917 she was among many members of the Royal Family to lose their German titles but a few months later her husband was made Marquess of Milford Haven making her a Marchioness. And while this Victoria didn't have her mother's name anywhere in her own, she made sure that she passed it on the very first opportunity she got. Her eldest daughter was named Alice and it's thanks to her that the name will belong to a direct ancestor of baby Cambridge.

3.  Princess Alice of Battenburg

All good descendants of Victoria and Albert were usually named Victoria or Albert or even Alberta or Victor and known by a middle name and the eldest child of Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine was no exception. She named the little girl she gave birth to in February 1885 Victoria Alice Elizabeth Julia Marie but she was always known as Alice. And that is the name of hers which her own son used for his own descendants as a tribute to her.

Alice of Batterberg, later Princess of Greece - will her latest descendant share her name?

Princess Alice was born in Germany, grew up partly in England and in 1903 married a son of the King of Greece called Andrew. The couple had four daughters before Andrew's brother, King Constantine, lost his throne in 1917 but the family returned to Greece briefly following the restoration of the monarchy. During that time, spent in Corfu, they had a son called Philip but the family soon had to flee again and their baby boy would grow up in the UK. When he met the heiress to that country's throne his royal fate was sealed - that love match led to Philip of Greece marrying the future Elizabeth II in 1952.

Princess Alice in later life

His mother became a nun following her husband's death and eventually ended up living at Buckingham Palace where she died in 1969. But as great, great grandmother of baby Cambridge her name is now top of the list of those they might use for a daughter.

4.  Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

It would certainly be a nod to the Duke of Edinburgh and his heritage. Just as George is another name to be found in Philip's family tree - it was born by his paternal grandfather - so Alice is part of British and Greek royal history.

He's already got three great granddaughters but would a new one share his mother's name?

And the Duke himself made sure it carried on in the Royal Family when he gave it to his only daughter as one of her names - the Princess Royal's full name is Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise.

5.  Prince Charles, Prince of Wales

Of course it's not Princess Anne who is providing the direct link from the first royal Alice to the possible latest princess with that name. Baby Cambridge is linked to the third daughter of Victoria via their paternal grandfather, Charles Philip Arthur George, who with no daughters of his own never had a chance to pass it on to a girl. He does however have a niece with the name - the only daughter of the Earl of Wessex is Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary.

6.  Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

Instead, it could be his eldest child William Arthur Philip Louis who gives the name its greatest royal exposure for over 150 years. Since February Alice has been the hot favourite with bookies for William's child should she be a girl and currently the odds are around 5/4.

7.  Baby Cambridge, mark two

And this time next week we should find out if they are right with Kate's due date said to be April 25th 2015....which would be the 172nd anniversary of the birth of the first princess called Alice. Seven degrees of royal Alice separation brought full circle.

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