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Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (born December 25, 1901) is the widow of HRH Prince Henry, The Duke of Gloucester, the third son of King George V and Queen Mary of Teck and the mother of the current HRH The Duke of Gloucester. She is the surviving paternal aunt of Queen Elizabeth II.

Lady Alice Christabel Montagu-Douglas-Scott was born in Montagu House, London, the third daughter of John Montagu-Douglas-Scott, 7th Duke of Buccleuch and 9th Duke of Queensbury (1864-1935), and his wife, the former Lady Margaret Bridgeman. She spent much of her childhood in her family's country homes—Boughton House in Northampshire, Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfrieshire, and Bowhill in the Scottish Border. She attended St. James's boarding school, West Malvern, Worcestershire and later travelled to France and Kenya.

In August 1935, Lady Alice became engaged to HRH The Duke of Gloucester. They were married in a private ceremony in the chapel of Buckingham Palace on November 6 of that year. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester initially lived at Aldershot, where the Duke was taking the Army staff course. The Duke of Gloucester left the army to take on more public duties following the abdication of Edward VIII in December 1936. The couple received a grace-and-favor residence at York House, St. James's Palace, London and in 1938, they purchased Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire. The Duke and Duchess had two sons: Prince William of Gloucester (December 18, 1941-August 28, 1972) and Prince Richard of Gloucester (born August 26, 1944).

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester travelled extensively to perform their royal duties. During World War II, the Duchess worked with the Red Cross and the Order of St. John. She became head of Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) in 1940 and was given the honorary title of Air Chief Commandant in 1945. She also served as deputy to Queen Elizabeth, the consort of George VI as commandant-in-chief of the Nursing Corps. From 1945 to 1947, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester lived in Canberra, where the Duke was serving as governor general of Australia. The Duchess of Gloucester has served as colonel-in-chief or deputy colonel-in-chief of a dozen regiments in the British Army including: the King's Own Scottish Borderers, the Northamptonshire Regiment, 2nd East Anglian Regiment (Duchess of Gloucester's Own Royal Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire), the Royal Hussars, and the Royal Irish Rangers (27th Inniskilling).

In 1972, their first son, Prince William was killed in an air crash. On June 10, 1974, Prince Henry passed away and was succeeded as Duke of Gloucester by their second son Prince Richard. His widow requested permission from her niece, Queen Elizabeth II, to use the title and style "HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester" instead of "HRH The Dowager Duchess of Gloucester". The Queen allowed her aunt to adopt this title, in part to avoid confusion with her daughter-in-law, the new Duchess of Gloucester (formerly Brigitte Eva Van Duers). Princess Alice apparently did not wish to be known as a dowager duchess and so followed the example of her late sister-in-law, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, following the marriage of her elder son in June 1961.

In 1981, Princess Alice published her memoirs, The Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. In 1994, she moved from Barnwall Manor to Kensington Palace, to live with the current Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. In 1999, the Duke of Gloucester issued a press release announcing that due to physical frailty, his mother would no longer carry out public engagements outside the environs of Kensington Palace. 

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester turned 102 on Christmas Day 2003. Since the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother she has become the longest-lived member ever of the Royal Family.

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