Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott (1901-2004)

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– Alice

Duchess of Gloucester

Alice Christabel was born in London on 25 December 1901 and was the daughter of  John Montagu Douglas Scott, Earl of Dalkeith, and Lady Margaret Bridgeman.

On 6 November 1935, Alice married Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the third son of George V, in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace. A more lavish wedding had been planned but Alice’s father died of cancer in October that year and the King’s health was also in decline. Initially, the couple lived in Aldershot as Henry was taking the army staff course but they moved to York House, St. James’s Palace, after the abdication of Edward VIII. In 1938, they purchased Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire.

During the Second World War, Alice worked with the Red Cross and the Order of St. John. She also became head of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) in 1939, and worked her way up to director in 1944. She also served as deputy to Queen Elizabeth II, as Commandant-in-Chief of the Nursing Corps. From 1945 to 1947, Alice and her husband moved to Canberra where the duke served as Governor-General of Australia.

When Henry died on 10 June 1974, he was succeeded by his second son, Richard, as the eldest son, William, had been killed in an air crash two years prior. After the death of her husband, Alice was given special permission to style herself as HRH Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester, instead of The Dowager Duchess of Gloucester as she did not care for the latter. Technically, Alice was not entitled to use the rank of princess with her own name as she was not one by birth, so it was only extended to her as a courtesy. Normally, non-royal women who marry a British prince can only style themselves with their husband’s name, as in Alice, Princess Henry, and not Princess Alice.

In 1994, Alice gave up Barnwell Manor for financial reasons and moved to Kensington Palace to stay with her son and daughter-in-law. Alice also gave up her official royal duties in 1999 as she was becoming too frail to carry them out. In December 2001, the royal family held a celebration to mark Alice’s 100th birthday and it was the last time she would be seen in public. On 21 August 2003, she surpassed The Queen Mother’s record as the oldest person in the history of the British Royal Family.

Alice passed away peacefully in her sleep on 29 October 2004 at Kensington Palace and was interred next to her husband, Henry, and her elder son, William, in the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore.

The Children

  • William of Gloucester
  •  Richard, Duke of Gloucester

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