Princess Alice, oldest ever royal, dies

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The Independent Online

Princess Alice, the Royal aunt who lived through the abdication crisis, two world wars and the turn of the millennium has died at the age of 102, the oldest member of the British royal family in history.

Yesterday the Queen paid tribute to the princess, who died in her sleep on Friday night with her immediate family beside her at Kensington Palace.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the Queen was greatly saddened by the death of her aunt, an almost exact contemporary of the late Queen Mother. "Princess Alice supported the work of King George VI and then the Queen over many years, through war and peace and despite the early death of her eldest son.

"The Queen remembers with gratitude Princess Alice's service to the monarchy and to the country," he said.

Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester, was born Lady Alice Christabel Montagu Douglas Scott, the third daughter of the Duke of Buccleuch, on Christmas Day 1901 in London, less than a year after the death of Queen Victoria.

She was educated at home and then at Malvern, before going to Paris. In 1920, she was presented at Court and in 1935 married Prince Henry, the third son of King George V. Soon afterwards, she witnessed the abdication crisis of 1936 when Edward VIII stood down to marry Wallis Simpson.

The palace said she enjoyed outdoor pursuits, including skiing, and had been an accomplished watercolourist. She was also a keen traveller, spending time in Kenya, India, Afghanistan and Australia. She survived her eldest son, Prince William, a pilot, who died in an air crash in 1972.

Buckingham Palace said funeral arrangements had not yet been finalised, but that the Princess's body had been placed in a private chapel at Kensington Palace. The Union flag flew at Buckingham Palace in tribute, yesterday.