Andreas of Greece (Modern Greek: Ανδρέας της Ελλάδας Andreas tis Elládas), prince of Greece and Denmark, was born on February 2, 1882, in Athens, Greece, and died on December 3, 1944, in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Son of King George I of Greece and father-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, he was a Hellenic military man, best known for his controversial role during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922.
Coming from a dynasty of foreign origin, Prince André identifies himself, very young, as a resolutely Greek prince. After military training under General Panagiotis Danglis, he became a cavalry officer in 1901. Married two years later to the Anglo-German princess Alice of Battenberg, he had five children with her between 1905 and 1921. Forced to resign from the army after the “Goudi coup” of 1909, the young man ostensibly sulked in the public life of his country until the outbreak of the Balkan wars of 1912-1913. Reintegrated into the army on this occasion, he served under the orders of his older brother, who became Constantine I after the assassination of their father in 1913. With the war, the prestige of the prince grows, while his financial situation improves appreciably thanks to the heritage left by his father.
During the First World War, André supported his brother”s neutralist policy, at a time when Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos was pushing for military intervention in favor of the Allies. Sent on a diplomatic mission to Paris and London in 1916, the prince failed to convince the Entente governments that Greece was not tipping over into the camp of the central empires. Considered an enemy in the same way as Constantine I, André was finally forced into exile by the venizelists in 1917. He took refuge in Switzerland until 1919 and returned to his country after his brother was recalled to power. André then became involved in the war between Greece and Turkey over the domination of Ionia. Engaged in the battle of Sakarya (1921), during which the Hellenic army is crushed by that of Mustafa Kemal, the prince is then considered as one of those responsible for the defeat. Tried for desertion in 1922, he was sentenced to degradation, banishment and loss of nationality but escaped the death penalty, unlike the personalities who were victims of the “Trial of the Six”.
A refugee in France until the restoration of the monarchy in 1935, André settled with his family in Saint-Cloud, where he lived thanks to the generosity of his sisters-in-law Nancy Stewart, Marie Bonaparte and Edwina Ashley. He led an idle life, during which he wrote memoirs of mediocre quality to justify his actions during the conflict with Turkey. However, the life of the prince took a new turn after the celebration of his silver wedding in 1928. His wife, Princess Alice, suffered from serious psychological problems after this date, which led her family to commit her to Switzerland between 1930 and 1933. At the same time, the couple”s four daughters got married and left to live in Germany. Under these conditions, André closed the house in Saint-Cloud and entrusted the education of his son Philippe, future Duke of Edinburgh, to his mother-in-law in the United Kingdom. André then divided his life between Paris, Germany and the French Riviera. A regular guest of millionaires with a reputation as a playboy, he indulged in gambling, alcohol and women. He engaged in an extramarital relationship with the French actress Andrée Lafayette, known as “Countess Andrée de La Bigne”.
The return of George II to power allowed André to stay in Greece several times between 1936 and 1939. Freed from the judgement of 1922, the prince remained a controversial figure because of his clumsy public statements. Stranded in the south of France at the time of the Second World War, the prince found himself largely cut off from his family but continued to lead a comfortable life with his mistress. He died of a heart attack shortly after the Liberation, in 1944, and his remains were not repatriated to the royal necropolis of Tatoi until two years later.
Prince Andrew is the son of King George I of Greece (1845-1913) and his wife Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia (1851-1926). By his father, he is the grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark (1818-1906), nicknamed the “father-in-law of Europe”, while by his mother, he is the great-grandson of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia (1796-1855).
On October 6 and 7, 1903, Prince André married, civilly and then religiously, in Darmstadt, Hesse, the Anglo-German Princess Alice of Battenberg (1885-1969), daughter of Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854-1921), future Marquis of Milford Haven, and his wife Princess Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt (1863-1950). By her mother, Princess Alice is the granddaughter of Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse-Darmstadt (1837-1892) and the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (1819-1901), while by her father she is descended in the morganatic line from Grand Duke Louis II of Hesse-Darmstadt (1777-1848).
From the union of André and Alice were born five children:
The fourth son and seventh child of King George I and Queen Olga, Prince Andrew was born on February 2, 1882 at the Royal Palace in Athens. As foreseen by the constitution of 1864, the child was raised in the Greek Orthodox religion, which was not that of his father, who remained Lutheran after his election to the throne. His first language was English, which he spoke with his parents and siblings. As he grew up, however, André affirmed his Hellenic identity by refusing to use any language other than Greek with his family. Coming from a cosmopolitan dynasty, André made many trips in Greece and abroad during his youth. Every year, he spent the winter in Athens, the spring in the Aegean or in the Ionian Sea (aboard the royal yacht Amphitrite) and the summer in Tatoi. He also spent time in Denmark (with his grandfather, King Christian IX), Russia (with his grandfather, Grand Duke Constantine Nikolayevich) and Austria (with his uncle, Prince Ernest-Augustus of Hanover).
Like his siblings, André received a strict education based on learning languages (ancient and modern Greek, English, French, German and Danish), history, literature, music and sports. Supervised by three foreign tutors (a Prussian, Dr. Lüders, a Frenchman, Mr. Brissot, and a Briton, Mr. Dixon), his schooling followed a rigid schedule. The child”s day began at six o”clock with a cold bath. After a first breakfast, he attended classes from seven to nine-thirty and then had a second breakfast with his parents. The lessons then resume from ten to noon and are followed by physical exercises in the palace gardens. After a family lunch, more lessons follow from 2 to 4 pm. Then, the prince follows riding and gymnastics exercises. After a study session and dinner, he went to bed at nine thirty. André followed this rhythm until the age of fourteen, at which time he was finally allowed to have dinner with his elders before going to bed at exactly ten o”clock.
In parallel to this program, the prince and his brothers receive a military training at the college of Evelpides of Piraeus, where André has for comrade the future dictator Theodoros Pangalos. Under the command of the general Panagiotis Danglis, André studied military history, geography, poliorcetics (art of the fortifications) and the handling of the artillery mainly. After his training, the prince was promoted to cavalry officer in May 1901. After his engagement in 1903, André served a few months in Germany. He then joined the Hessian dragoon regiment known as the “red dragoons”.
In June 1902, Prince Andrew accompanied the diadoch Constantine and his wife, Princess Royal Sophie of Prussia, to London for the coronation of their uncle, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. The young man met a great-niece of the monarch, Alice of Battenberg. From a morganatic branch of the house of Hesse, the princess was the daughter of Louis de Battenberg, an admiral in the Royal Navy, and his wife Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt. Her origins are therefore relatively modest on her father”s side, but much more prestigious on her mother”s side. Alice is indeed a descendant of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, nicknamed the “grandmother of Europe”. She is also the niece of Grand Duke Ernest-Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna of Russia and Princess Irene of Prussia.
At the time of his meeting with Alice, André is just 20 years old. Reputedly attractive, he is a tall, slim and elegant young man, who enjoys the charm attributed to military men. Suffering from eyesight problems, he wears small glasses, later replaced by a monocle, considered a sign of refinement in his milieu, and she has, since childhood, the reputation of being a beautiful young girl. Struck by congenital deafness, she reads lips perfectly and is able to understand conversations in several languages. The two young people quickly fall in love and, unusually in the world of royal families, their romance is not the result of a parental plan. Alice was fascinated by André, in whom she found “the image of a Greek god”. Under these conditions, and despite the reluctance of the Battenbergs who considered their daughter still too young for marriage, André and Alice became engaged, in private, during the month they spent together in London.
The coronation ceremonies were postponed because of Edward VII”s health problems, and the two young men separated in early July. However, they met again in August, when the coronation was finally organized. A few days after their reunion, they parted again: Alice went back to her family in Darmstadt while André joined his regiment in Greece. There followed a period of ten months of separation, during which the young couple wrote to each other several times a week. André finally joined Alice in England in May 1903 and their engagement was officially announced in London on May 10. While waiting for his wedding, which was scheduled for October 7, André was authorized by his father to serve in the Hessian army in order to get closer to his fiancée. He went to Darmstadt on June 19, but the young couple only saw each other on the rare occasions when the prince was on leave.
The wedding of André and Alice took place in the capital of the Grand Duchy of Hesse. The wedding was attended by many prominent personalities from Germany, Russia, Great Britain and Greece. Aged 21 and 18 respectively, André and Alice were united in a civil ceremony (October 6) and two religious ceremonies (the next day), the first Protestant, in the Old Palace Church, and the second Orthodox, in the Russian chapel of Mathildenhöhe. After a brief honeymoon in Hesse, the couple moved into the Battenberg apartments in the Old Palace and André returned to service in the Hessian army for a few months.
After a trip aboard the Amphitrite, André and Alice arrived in the Hellenic kingdom in the company of Princess Marie of Greece and her husband, the Grand Duke Georges Mikhaïlovitch of Russia, on January 6, 1904. Welcomed in Piraeus by King George I and Queen Olga, the princely couple was invited to a Te deum in the cathedral of Athens, followed by popular festivities. André and Alice then moved in with the sovereigns and Prince Christophe, in the Royal Palace of Athens. They also stayed regularly in Tatoi, where the royal family owned a vast estate, on which André built his own house in 1907. Very close to his parents and siblings, André led, with his wife, a relatively simple life in Athens. When he was not on duty, he went on long horseback rides to Phalère with Alice and his aide-de-camp, Menelaos Metaxas. He soon had the joy of seeing his wife give birth to two daughters, Princess Marguerite (born in April 1905).
Serving in the Hellenic cavalry, André was appointed, from autumn 1905 to spring 1906, commander of the garrison of Larissa. In charge of training the new recruits of the region, mainly composed of rough peasants from the mountains, the prince took advantage of his free time to explore Thessaly with Alice or to take care of his dogs, which he treated like children. In the autumn of 1907, André took part in military maneuvers alongside the diadoch Constantine and Prince Christophe.
In addition to his activities in the army, André regularly travelled abroad with his wife to represent the Hellenic crown or to visit his numerous relatives. In the summer of 1904, the couple traveled to Great Britain and Hesse to meet Alice”s parents. In the summer of 1905, the prince and princess returned to Hesse, before going to Denmark, where they stayed with the old king Christian IX, André”s grandfather. In May 1906, the prince went alone to Madrid to attend the wedding of King Alfonso XIII of Spain with Princess Victoire-Eugénie of Battenberg, his wife”s cousin. In the summer of 1907, the princely couple was invited to London for the festivities organized by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Finally, from April to August 1908, André and Alice stayed in Russia for the wedding of Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna of Russia, André”s niece, to Prince William of Sweden. They then travelled to Sweden and Denmark, before returning to Russia and returning to Greece via Constantinople, where Sultan Abdülhamid II refused to receive them, despite the requests of their government.
From the coup de Goudi to the Balkan wars
The commitment of André and his brothers within the Greek armed forces does not prevent them from being regularly targeted by the Greek press, which sees them as a financial burden for the kingdom, even though they do not receive any particular endowment from the State. In addition to these criticisms, the sons of King George I were confronted with the jealousy of a part of the military world, which accused them of unduly monopolizing functions in the army. The attacks against the princes reached their peak in August 1909, when a group of officers, united in the “Military League”, organized the “Goudi coup” against the government of Dimitrios Rallis. The pressures against the crown were so strong that the sons of the king of the Hellenes resigned, on September 1, to resign from their functions in order to spare their father the shame of having to dismiss them. A few months later, the Cretan politician Eleftherios Venizelos took over the government, to the great displeasure of André who had no confidence in him.
Completely idle after his retirement from the army, the prince withdrew from public life so as not to have to appear in civilian clothes at official ceremonies. In spite of the flight abroad of his elder brother, the diadoch Constantine, Andre resolves to remain in Greece and cancels a stay in Berlin. From November 1909, the prince and his wife even agreed to participate, along with other members of the dynasty, in receptions organized by foreign legations. However, the burning and looting of the royal palace in Athens on January 6, 1910 forced the royal family to stay away from the capital. In April 1910, André and his family went to Corfu, where they received a visit from Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom, sister of George I. In May, André, Alice and their two daughters finally reached Great Britain, where they met up with the Battenbergs. Aware of the precariousness of his situation, the Hellenic prince considered moving abroad permanently with his family. However, he returned to Athens in August, not without having previously stayed in Paris and Darmstadt.
Since coming to power, Eleftherios Venizelos has been trying to convince King George I and his family to spend more time in the capital in order to reconnect with public opinion. The king and his family complied and tried to participate more in the social life of their country. However, André and his brothers continued to refuse to appear at official ceremonies in civilian clothes. In April 1911, the king and Princess Sophie were the only members of the dynasty to participate in the commemorations of the war of independence. In fact, it was only in the autumn of 1911 that André and his brothers agreed to swallow their pride by appearing at a ball for naval officers organized in the capital. The Greek princes continued to make frequent trips abroad. After the birth of their third daughter, Cécile, in June 1911, André and his wife spent several months in Germany and Italy.
During the summer of 1912, Greece approached the other Balkan kingdoms (Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria) to form an alliance against the Ottoman Empire. As the months passed, a conflict seemed more and more inevitable and André presented himself, on October 2, to the Ministry of War to ask for his reintegration into the armed forces. Confronted with the request of the prince, who declares himself ready to fight as a simple soldier if it is the condition which is imposed to him to serve his country, Eleftherios Venizélos promises to return to André and his brothers their military functions. The diadoch, who had already been appointed inspector-general in June 1911, was then promoted to commander-in-chief of the Greek forces. A few days later, on October 21, his brothers were in turn officially reinstated in the army and André was appointed lieutenant-colonel in the third Hellenic cavalry regiment.
On October 20, the princes left for Larissa, a city on the border with the Ottoman Empire. Attached to the staff of the diadoch, André periodically found Alice, who organized field hospitals in the newly occupied regions. However, the prince did not avoid the fighting. He takes part, on the contrary, actively in the battles which lead to the conquest of Macedonia and Epirus, which is worth to him to be promoted colonel. André was thus at the side of the diadocho during the capture of Thessalonica, on November 9, 1912. Thereafter, he also participated in the conquest of Ioannina, on March 6, 1913.
For the royal family, the joy linked to the victories of the Hellenic army is however overshadowed by a tragic event. On March 18, a Greek lunatic named Alexandros Schinas assassinated King George I while he was on a walk near the White Tower in Thessaloniki. At first, the attack increased tensions with Bulgaria, Greece”s rival in Macedonia. However, the death of the sovereign finally contributes to legitimize the Greek domination on Thessalonica, consecrated by the treaty of London of May 1913. On another level, the death of the monarch allowed to improve significantly the financial situation of prince André and his family. In his will, George I bequeathed to his son the palace of Mon Repos, located in Corfu, as well as a sum of 4 000 pounds sterling.
One month after the signing of the peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire, a new conflict broke out between the former allies. Dissatisfied with the fate that had been reserved for it, Bulgaria attacked Serbia and Greece by surprise during the night of June 29-30, 1913. André then took up arms again alongside his brother, which led him to take part in the battle of Kilkis. After a month of fighting, Sofia was defeated and Greece continued its expansion in the Balkans. In spite of the victories which followed one another, the Balkan wars were also the occasion of fractures within the royal family. In fact, during the first conflict, there was a violent quarrel between Princess Royal Sophie and Alice over the management of the field hospitals. André was then all the more shocked by the fate reserved for his wife, as the diadoch was also publicly accusing her of overstepping her duties.
When peace returned, André, his wife and their daughters set off again on a trip abroad in August 1913. After a visit to Germany, they stayed in the United Kingdom, at the home of Alice”s parents. On a mission from Constantine I, André was received in audience by King George V, to whom he returned his father”s English decorations. Later, the princely couple attended the wedding of Prince Arthur of Connaught and the Duchess of Fife. André also took advantage of this trip to renew his wardrobe and have his portrait painted by the painter Philip de Laszlo. However, the prince was not at ease because he was convinced that a new conflict with the Ottoman Empire could break out at any moment.
Returning to Greece on November 17, 1913, André resumed his duties with the third cavalry regiment. In January 1914, he was also appointed commander of the Athens Cavalry School. At the same time, Princess Alice became pregnant again. To the great disappointment of her family, who were hoping for a boy, she gave birth to a fourth baby girl, Princess Sophie, on June 26, 1914 at Mon Repos. Shortly after the birth, tensions between Greece and the Ottoman Empire reignited in the Aegean Sea. However, the Hellenic kingdom found itself isolated on the international scene, Serbia having made known its refusal to assist it in the event of a new war, despite the signing of a mutual protection treaty in 1913. However, it was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, that soon focused the attention of the royal family and the government.
The First World War
When the First World War broke out on 28 July 1914, King Constantine I decided to keep his country out of the fighting. Unlike Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, who wanted to enter the war on the side of the Entente, the sovereign was indeed convinced that his country had been too much tested by the Balkan wars to resist the central powers. This difference of opinion led to the dismissal of the Prime Minister, after he had authorized the Allies to land in Thessaloniki in order to help the routed Serbian army (October 1915). It is the beginning of the national Schism, which reaches its paroxysm when Venizélos forms his own government, rival of that of the sovereign, in Macedonia (September 1916).
Shortly before these events, in September 1915, André was sent to Thessalonica with his cavalry regiment. In the city, the situation becomes complicated after the installation of the allied troops. One day, the prince was almost killed in a bomb explosion. Above all, he feared a German attack on Macedonia, which he considered insufficiently protected. Despite the danger, Alice resides several weeks with her husband in the occupied city and the couple spends Christmas 1915 without their daughters. The princess took advantage of this stay to meet with the British staff and try to convince them that Constantine I was not driven by pro-German sentiment but was simply trying to protect his country. In July 1916, André was given a diplomatic mission by his brother. Sent to the United Kingdom and France with his aide-de-camp, the prince was asked by Constantine I to reassure the Allies about Greek neutrality. However, this trip, which lasted two months, was a failure and André finally returned to his regiment with relief.
As the months passed, the situation in Greece became even more complicated. On December 1, 1916, Allied troops under the command of Louis Dartige du Fournet landed in Athens to demand arms from the Greek government. In response, loyalist forces rose up and fired on the foreign soldiers. Surprised by this ambush, the French admiral had Athens bombed. Present in the capital at the time of these events, Alice abandoned her charitable activities to find her daughters in the royal palace and take refuge, with them, in the cellars of the building. The Allies eventually withdrew but a blockade was then imposed on Greece. Under these conditions, the capital city was in dire straits and Queen Sophie and her sisters-in-law had to organize soup kitchens to feed the starving children.
The Russian revolution of February 1917 and the deposition of Tsar Nicholas II deprived Constantine I of his only support among the Entente powers. Finally, on June 10, 1917, the High Commissioner Charles Jonnart demanded the abdication of the king and his replacement by another prince than the diadoch, considered too Germanophile. Under the threat of a new landing, the King of the Hellenes gave up power in favor of his second son, Prince Alexander. In Alice”s family, the choice of the young man disappointed: Prince Louis of Battenberg would indeed have liked to see his son-in-law and daughter ascend the throne to replace Constantine I. Nevertheless, André, his wife and their daughters were very affected by the fate of the monarch and his family. With the other members of the dynasty, they surrounded the royal couple until their departure into exile on June 14.
When Constantine I was chased out of Greece by the Allies and the venizelists, his brothers Nicolas, André and Christophe were initially allowed to stay in the country with their respective families. Nicolas and Christophe are however quickly invited to leave the capital, by fear that they do not exert a harmful influence on Alexander I. Particularly hated by the venizelists, who saw in him the “evil genius of the monarchy”, Nicolas ended up going into exile in his turn in Switzerland with his relatives on July 4, 1917. He was accompanied by Christophe, who could not find his American fiancée, Nancy Stewart, in London, because he did not have a pass from the United Kingdom. Protected by Alice”s British origins and by the respect shown to him by Eleftherios Venizelos, André was initially allowed to stay in Athens with his family. He is finally obliged to abandon the country a fortnight after his brothers. The new regime seeks, indeed, to cut any link between the young king and his relatives.
Before going into exile, André at least managed to gather some money. With the help of Menelaos Metaxas, he managed to sell his cars, which gave him some financial security. Once in Switzerland, the prince and his family stayed in a hotel in St. Moritz, before settling in Lucerne. In September, Alice obtained permission to travel to Great Britain to see her parents, whom she had not seen since the beginning of the First World War. André kept Constantine I company, who was going through a serious period of depression. The prince also followed the news from Russia, where many of his relatives were prisoners of the revolutionaries. His mother, Queen Dowager Olga, was trapped in Pavlovsk for several months and only managed to reach Switzerland in early 1919. Many other Romanovs, however, were less fortunate than the sovereign. Among the many members of the imperial family who fell victim to the Bolshevik repression were Andre”s two Russian brothers-in-law (Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich and Grand Duke George Mikhailovich), one of his maternal uncles (Grand Duke Dimitri Constantinovich) and two of Alice”s maternal aunts (Czarina Alexandra and Grand Duchess Elisabeth).
Tired of his condition of exile, André requested, without success, in 1919, the authorization to return to live, with his wife and daughters, at the palace of Mon Repos, in Corfu, who continued to see in Constantine I and his close relations agents of Germany, André succeeded, in spite of everything, to leave on a trip to Rome with his brother Christophe, in September 1920. The two princes were then suspected of plotting to overthrow Venizelos. One month later, another drama came however to reverse the situation of the royal family. On October 2, 1920, King Alexander I of Greece was bitten by a domestic monkey in Tatoi. Poorly treated, he soon developed septicemia, which took him on October 25 without any member of the dynasty being allowed to go to his side. The death of the young king caused a violent institutional crisis in Greece. Already bogged down in a war against Turkey, Eleftherios Venizelos lost the legislative elections of November 1920. Defeated, the Cretan politician chose to go into exile while a referendum resulted in the restoration of Constantine I.
From the restoration of Constantine I to the proclamation of the Republic
André and his brother Christophe were the first members of the dynasty to return to Greece after the referendum. Arriving in Corfu on November 22, 1920, the two brothers received an enthusiastic welcome. From there, they went to Athens, where they arrived the following day. This time again, they are received with fervor by the population. Carried from shoulder to shoulder from the port of Phalere to Syntagma Square, they were acclaimed by the crowd and André had to make a speech from the balcony of the royal palace. Joined by his wife and daughters a few days later, the prince finally attends the triumphal return of Constantine I and Sophie of Prussia on December 19. After these events, André and his family moved to Mon Repos, where Alice soon discovered that she was pregnant again.
As soon as he returned to Athens, André was reinstated in the army and promoted to major-general in the cavalry. A victim of the prejudice of the military hierarchy towards the royalist officers dismissed in 1917, he did not receive any command for several months. However, Greece was then at war with Turkey and the peace talks organized in London in February-March 1921 did not succeed in putting an end to it. After this failure, the hostilities with Turkey intensified and the prince asked the staff to be mobilized, which was initially refused. Things changed in June 1921. While his wife was about to give birth to a little boy, named Philippe, the prince received the command of the 13th Division and the IInd Army Corps, in Thrace.
Placed at the head of poorly trained and ill-disciplined soldiers from the provinces newly united with Greece, Andrew was soon engaged in the battle of Eskişehir, which ended, at the end of July, in a Pyrrhic victory for the Hellenic forces. Promoted to lieutenant general, the prince was ordered by general Papoulas to advance into Anatolia with his troops. He was then engaged in the battle of Sakarya, during which the Greeks were crushed by the army of Mustafa Kemal. In disagreement with the general staff, which he considered incompetent, André acted on his own initiative instead of obeying orders. Blamed for his attitude, he gave his resignation, which was refused on two occasions. Having finally obtained a leave, the prince left the front three days before the end of the battle, on September 10, 1921, which earned him accusations of desertion by his enemies. Already very controversial because of his attitude on the front, André worsened his situation by making violently anti-Venizelist remarks in an interview with Il Giornale d”Italia, at the end of October 1921, which further alienated him from the Greek press.
After a brief return to Smyrna, where he opposed General Papoulas once again, André requested, in December 1921, the command of the V Army Corps, based in Epirus. He then settled for a few months in Ioannina, where Alice visited him several times. In spite of these new functions, the prince made a brief stay in Athens, where he underwent a treatment against the periodontitis, and also returned some time to Corfu, where he spent the Easter holidays 1922. Unlike his wife and daughters, André did not travel to the United Kingdom to attend the wedding of his brother-in-law, Lord Louis Mountbatten, to Edwina Ashley in July 1922. In fact, since the battle of Sakarya, Greece suffered defeat after defeat in Asia Minor and André observed the events with concern. As early as January 1922, he wrote to the future dictator Ioannis Metaxas that Greece must imperatively withdraw from Anatolia, under penalty of being confronted with an unprecedented disaster.
As the military situation in Anatolia continued to worsen, André joined the king in Athens during the summer of 1922, which led to him being accused once again of neglecting his command. However, the influx of wounded soldiers from Asia Minor into the capital benefited the venizelist opposition, which accused the royal family of being responsible for the disaster that was unfolding in Turkey. In these conditions, André advised Constantin I to transmit the power to the diadoque Georges, which opposed him to the prince Nicolas, who refused any idea of abdication of his elder. It is finally the uprising of a group of Hellenic officers (commanded by Nikolaos Plastiras and Stylianos Gonatas), on September 11, 1922, which pushes the sovereign to give up the throne in favour of his son, on September 27 following. In the meantime, the Greek army was definitively driven out of Asia Minor and the city of Smyrna, where a large Christian community lived, was burned and emptied of its Greek and Armenian populations.
While Constantine I and his family left Greece with Prince Nicholas and his family on September 30, André and Alice chose to stay in the country with their children. Having received the assurance of the revolutionary government that they would not be bothered, they left the capital for their residence in Corfu. However, the couple and their offspring were closely watched by the new authorities.
On October 26, André receives the visit of the colonel Loufas, charged to question him about the events which occurred in Anatolia a few months before. Shortly after, the prince was brought back to Athens on board the Aspis under the pretext of testifying at the trial organized against the personalities judged responsible for the military defeat. In spite of the protests of the diplomatic corps, André is finally placed under house arrest in the capital. Accused of disobedience to orders and desertion, he was also threatened with death by General Pangalos who declared to him, during an interview: “How many children do you already have? What a sadness, the poor will soon be orphans!
Dignitaries considered responsible for having caused the defeat by Turkey were brought to justice from November 13, 1922 in what was then known as the “Trial of the Six. Despite criticism from abroad, it resulted in the sentencing to death of six personalities linked to the former regime. Under these conditions, André”s trial, which began on December 3, was difficult. Summoned before a military tribunal, the prince was accused by Colonel Kalogeras of having disobeyed orders by refusing to advance in the face of the enemy on 3 August 1921. He is, moreover, accused by the colonel Sariyanis of having directly prevented the Greeks from winning the battle of Sakarya by acting thus. In spite of André”s protests, who defended himself by explaining that his battalion was ordered to protect the other army corps and not to attack the Turks, he was unanimously judged guilty of disobeying orders and desertion. The judges saw in “his lack of experience in commanding a large unit” a mitigating circumstance, but he was only sentenced to degradation, perpetual banishment and loss of nationality.
This relative indulgence is explained by the pressures exerted by various foreign governments, mobilized by the royal family of Greece, to obtain the grace of André. The intervention of Great Britain, represented in Athens by an officer named Gerald Talbot, is particularly notable. However, it seems that the former Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos also played a role in the rescue of the prince. In any case, the decision of the military tribunal allowed André to leave Athens aboard HMS Calypso on December 3, 1922.
Between exile and marital difficulties
After a brief stay at Mon Repos, where they retrieved their children and some personal belongings, André and Alice reached Italy on December 6 and without money, the small group, accompanied by six servants, crossed into France shortly thereafter and arrived in Paris on December 8, 1922. It took several days for the family to obtain permission to enter the United Kingdom. King George V and his government, who had promised asylum to André and his family, were concerned about the consequences their stay might have on English public opinion. However, on December 17, the exiles arrived in Great Britain. Two days later, André went to Buckingham to thank his cousin for having intervened on his behalf in Athens. After a few weeks, the prince and his family returned to France and settled in Saint-Cloud, where their sister-in-law, Princess Marie Bonaparte, provided them with a house adjacent to hers, at No. 5 rue du Mont-Valérien.
In January 1923, André and Alice undertook a trip to the United States at the invitation of Prince Christophe and his American wife, Nancy Stewart. Received by an armada of journalists upon their arrival in New York, they were questioned by the press and André was asked about the trial he had undergone in Athens. The prince made some awkward remarks, which his enemies would later use to accuse him of having come to America to spread propaganda. Having learned of the death of Constantine I during their crossing of the Atlantic, the small group then participated in numerous religious services in favor of the sovereign, some of which took them as far as Quebec. The journey then continued to Washington and Palm Beach. Then, the two couples separated and André and his wife returned, alone, to Saint-Cloud on March 20, 1923.
Meanwhile, the political situation continued to deteriorate in Greece and George II was invited to leave his country on 19 December 1923. A few months later, on March 25, 1924, the Republic is proclaimed in Athens, which further removes any prospect of return of the former dynasty in his country. André continued to attract the wrath of General Pangalos, and decided to rent Mon Repos to his brother-in-law, Louis Mountbatten, in order to provide the villa with some kind of protection from the British government. Although they were not entirely destitute, André and his family lived mainly, during their exile, thanks to the generosity of their wealthy sisters-in-law: first Nancy Stewart. However, this did not prevent the family from being frequently bothered by unpaid bills.
For seven years, André and his family led a relatively simple and idle life in Saint-Cloud. The prince regularly took his children for walks in Paris or the Bois de Boulogne. He also spent long hours playing tennis with them. Every Sunday, the little group was invited to lunch at the home of Marie Bonaparte and Georges de Grèce. The family also regularly saw Nicolas of Greece and his wife Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, who had also chosen France to spend their exile. Finally, André and his family often met their cousin Marguerite of Denmark, who had settled in the Paris region after her marriage to René de Bourbon-Parme.
The family also made frequent trips abroad. As the princesses Marguerite and Theodora had reached marriageable age, André and his wife made several trips to the United Kingdom between 1923 and 1927 in order to have them participate in the great social events that punctuated the life of the British aristocracy. However, the young girls did not attract suitors because of the relative poverty of their parents. In addition to these trips for matrimonial purposes, André, alone or with Alice, made several trips to other parts of Europe: Tuscany (1924), Austria (1927).
Still feeling the need to justify his attitude during the Greco-Turkish war, André began writing a book in which he recounted, in great detail, the events that occurred during the Asia Minor campaign. Written in modern Greek, this work was then translated into English, under the title Towards Disaster, by Princess Alice, during the winter of 1928-1929. Published in only a thousand copies by John Murray in 1930, the work received a negative critical reception, even though it is now a collector”s book.
André also continues to be interested, from afar, in the political life of Greece. In August 1926, the fall of general Pangalos, after less than a year of dictatorship at the head of Greece, is thus a reason for satisfaction for the prince. In spite of everything, the latter keeps away from the intrigues, contrary to his wife, who tries, in 1927, to make him named president of the Hellenic Republic by putting pressure on the League of Nations and on the king George V of the United Kingdom.
For many years, no dissonance seems to appear in the couple formed by André and Alice. However, signs of uneasiness develop between the couple from 1925. Dissatisfied with her married life, the princess fell in love with a married man of English origin. The romance remained platonic but led the young woman to find refuge in religion and spirituality. The year 1928 finally marked a break in the life of the princely couple. Shortly after the celebration of her silver wedding with André, Alice converted to Orthodoxy. As the months passed, the princess became more and more mystical and her mental state deteriorated. Convinced that she is endowed with thaumaturgical powers, she soon believes herself to be a saint and the bride of Jesus.
Unable to cope with the situation, André calls his mother-in-law, Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt, for help and asks her to take Alice with her to the United Kingdom. On the advice of Marie Bonaparte, who had herself undergone analysis with Sigmund Freud, the princess was finally sent for therapy to the clinic of Dr. Ernst Simmel, near Berlin, in February 1930. After 8 weeks of treatment, however, Alice returned to Saint-Cloud against the advice of the doctors. Her condition deteriorated again and André considered more and more seriously to have her committed. In the meantime, Princess Cécile, the third of the couple”s four daughters, became close to Georges Donatus of Hesse-Darmstadt, heir to the Grand Duchy of Hesse. With the agreement of his mother-in-law, André took advantage of a stay in Darmstadt in May 1930 to have his wife hospitalized in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, just after Cécile”s official engagement.
In the following months, André”s four daughters successively married German aristocrats: Sophie to Prince Christophe of Hesse-Cassel (December 1930), Cécile to Grand Duke Georges Donatus of Hesse-Darmstadt (February 1931), Marguerite to Prince Gottfried of Hohenlohe-Langenbourg (April 1931) and Théodora to Margrave Berthold of Baden (August 1931). After that, André decided to leave the house of Saint-Cloud and to entrust his son Philippe to his maternal grandmother in Great Britain. Although he remained in contact with his wife”s doctors by letter, the Hellenic prince largely ceased to be concerned about her situation and visited her only once during the three years she was interned.
Now homeless and without family constraints, André divides his life between Paris (where he lives in the house of his brother Georges, located on Rue Adolphe-Yvon), the Riviera (where he is the regular guest of millionaire Gilbert Beale) and Germany (where he lives with his daughters). In Monte Carlo, he led a dissolute life, divided between casino, alcohol and women, which soon earned him a reputation as a playboy. The improvement of Alice”s health, who left the hospital in 1933 and gradually expressed the desire to resume a married life with him, did not affect the conduct of the prince. On the contrary, it was not until 1937 that the two spouses met for the first time. From a legal point of view, no separation was ever formalized, but the couple met only on very rare occasions, although they maintained cordial relations.
The publication, at the end of 1930, of the memoirs of war of André causes important stirs in Greece. The venizelist press having transcribed large passages of the work, the prince was again the object of the vindictiveness of the republicans, who threatened, once again, to seize Mon Repos. To protect the property of their brother-in-law, Louis Mountbatten and his wife Edwina had no less than 32 boxes of objects from the property transferred abroad in 1932. At the same time, André filed a lawsuit against the Greek state to assert his rights to the villa. The lawsuit was successful, as the prince was recognized as the legitimate owner of Mon Repos in 1934. However, the maintenance of the estate proved too costly for the prince, whose meager savings had evaporated shortly after the 1929 crisis. In 1937, André decided to sell the palace to his nephew Georges II in exchange for an annual rent.
In parallel to these actions, André makes, several times, his voice heard in the Greek press. In May 1932, he violently attacked Eleftherios Venizelos, whom he accused of having enriched himself in power. In January 1935, the prince made a more moderate interview, in which he advocated national reconciliation within a restored monarchy. However, these statements were published in a newspaper whose owner was linked to the assassination attempt against Venizelos in 1933, which largely discredited them. During this time, Greece was going through a serious political and financial crisis. Between 1924 and 1935, 33 governments, one dictatorship and 13 coups took place. Faced with permanent instability, many Greeks lost confidence in the Republic and George II was finally recalled to the throne shortly after the putsch of General Georgios Kondylis in November 1935.
The return of his nephew to the power changes largely the situation of André. At first, it is decided that neither he nor his brother Nicolas would return immediately to Greece, in order not to displease the Greek opinion, which continues to associate them with the memory of the national Schism. However, as of January 1936, the sentence of banishment emitted against André in 1922 is broken by the new regime. The prince could thus return to his country in mid-May. He then made clumsy declarations, which even alienated the moderate press.
After a few months spent in Cannes, André went back to Athens in November 1936, on the occasion of the return of the ashes of King Constantine I and Queen Olga Constantinovna of Russia and Sophie of Prussia (who had died in exile in 1923). He was then appointed principal aide-de-camp to the King of the Hellenes. A few months later, in October-November 1937, he was invited by his nephew to take part in an official trip to Paris and London. All these honors do not prevent André from committing new blunders. In April 1937, he provoked a slight diplomatic incident with Great Britain by going on a private trip to Cyprus aboard the yacht of his friend David E. Townsend. Welcomed by enthusiastic crowds, the prince then caused the embarrassment of the British governor, who feared that he would support the desire of some Greek Cypriots to join Greece by his presence on the island.
Lonely and increasingly addicted to alcohol, André began an affair in the 1930s with the French actress Andrée Lafayette. Known by the pseudonym “Countess Andrée de La Bigne”, she was the granddaughter of Valtesse de La Bigne, a famous courtesan of the Belle Époque. Like her grandmother, the young woman had the reputation of being a diamond cruncher and the pitiful state of the prince”s finances at the time of his death seems to support this thesis. In any case, André was not at all generous with his family. While he paid one pound a week to his son Philip during his service in the Royal Navy, he did not give a penny to his wife Alice, who lived on a pension from her sister-in-law Edwina Ashley…
The years following the restoration of George II were marked by a series of deaths that affected André personally. On November 16, 1937, Cécile of Greece, the prince”s favorite daughter, died in an airplane accident along with her husband, three of her children and her mother-in-law, Éléonore de Solms-Hohensolms-Lich. The only survivor of the Grand Ducal family, little Jeanne de Hesse, who was not on the plane, died two years later of meningitis. In the same years, three of the four surviving brothers and sisters of the prince died in turn: Nicolas in 1938.
As the Second World War broke out in Europe, André made his annual visit to Athens in October-November 1939. He met Princess Alice and the other members of the Greek dynasty for the last time. At the same time, the conflict divided the Prince”s family, whose members were engaged in opposing camps. André”s sons-in-law were enlisted in the German army while Prince Philippe served in the British Navy.
Back on the Riviera, André was surprised by the invasion of France, during which two of his sons-in-law were injured. Unlike his brother Georges and his sister-in-law Marie Bonaparte, who left occupied France in extremis, André found himself stuck on the French Riviera with Andrée de La Bigne.
Largely cut off from his family, except for a three-month visit by his cousin Erik of Denmark in 1943, André spent most of the world conflict aboard the yacht Davida, bought from his friend David E. Townsend in 1940 and anchored on the French Riviera. During this time, Alice de Battenberg chose to remain in Athens, despite the German invasion of Greece in April 1941. In June 1943, André applied unsuccessfully for a pass to Portugal. After this failure, the prince moved with his mistress to the Hotel Metropole in Monte Carlo, but he continued to lead a fairly comfortable life.
At the same time, the prince”s health deteriorated: he became an alcoholic and suffered from atherosclerosis and palpitations. A witness to the Liberation, he died of a heart attack just after participating in a party organized by the American military authorities, during the night of December 2 to 3, 1944. Greece being still shaken by fighting, his remains were placed in the Russian cathedral of Nice. After the restoration of George II in 1946, the ashes of the prince were repatriated by the cruiser Averoff to be buried in the royal necropolis of Tatoi, where they have been resting ever since.
Collectible images of André and other members of the Greek royal family were included in the first series of the Felix Potin Collection, issued by the Felix Potin company between 1898 and 1908.
Similar images were also issued by the Guérin-Boutron chocolate company.
The role of Prince Andrew is played by British actor Guy Williams in two episodes (“A Company of Men” and “Paterfamilias”) of the British-American series The Crown (2017).
André and Alice in the monarchies of Eastern Europe
About André, his wife Alice and their son Philippe
About André and the Greek royal family in general