In Netflix's newest original series, The Crown, Claire Foy and Matt Smith take center stage as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. It's an exciting look at the early days of their decades-spanning relationship, and it makes you curious about other aspects of their family. For example, what kind of family did Philip come from? Prince Philip's sisters and their husbands are mentioned briefly in the pilot — so who exactly are they?
In the pilot, they're mentioned because they were unable to attend the wedding — which is certainly something of an intriguing tidbit. After all, why would you miss your brother's wedding to the future Queen of England? Granted, this was before she succeeded the throne, but still: Who were Philip's sisters, and why weren't they at the big wedding?
Well, it turns out that his four sisters — Margarita, Theodora, Cecilie, and Sophie — were unwelcome at Elizabeth and Philip's nuptials because of some of their ties to the Third Reich. You see, the year the two were married, back in 1947, the wounds of WWII weren't even close to healed, and any guests even tangentially related to the Nazi regime would have been unthinkable — and, as fate would have it, his sisters were all married into the German nobility, and some of their husbands were involved with the Nazi party, according to The Daily Mail. Bustle reached out to the royal press office for comment on this and the Netflix show and was given this statement: "The Crown is a fictional drama. The Royal Household has had no involvement."
Prince Philip, whose opposition to the Nazi party has never been in question, spoke out for the first time on the matter in 2006. The Daily Mail reports that he said, "There was a sense of hope after the depressing chaos of the Weimar Republic. I can understand people latching on to something or somebody who appeared to be appealing to their patriotism and trying to get things going. You can understand how attractive it was." But, he maintained that he was never "conscious of anybody in the family actually expressing anti-Semitic views."
It's tough to guess from Philip's assumed aristocratic surname "Mountbatten," (as well as his Greek and Danish background), but it turns out his roots are quite German. His family was closely descended from the German aristocracy, and in fact, Express reports that "Mountbatten" is actually the anglicized version of the much more Germanic "Battenberg" — which definitely helps explain the ties made via marriage from his sisters to the powerful party officials of the day.
His eldest sister Margarita married Prince Gottfried of Hohenlohe-Langenburg — and as reported by The Telegraph, the two were not involved with the Nazi party (although they still didn't get invited to the big wedding, along with the rest of his sisters and in-laws). Next up in chronological age was Theodora, who married Berthold, Margrave of Baden, and then there was Cecilie, who wed the Hereditary Grand Duke Georg Donatus of Hesse.
Last but not least was Sophie, who was most closely linked to the Nazi party of all — her first husband, Prince Christoph of Hesse, was actually a high-ranking SS officer. At one point, the Daily Mail reports that Sophie even joined the Nazi Women's Auxiliary, and she and her husband were photographed entertaining both Hitler and one of his top-ranking officials, Hermann Goering. Still though, according to her obituary in The Telegraph, it's worth pointing out that Prince Christoph eventually grew disillusioned with the Nazi party, and, as a pilot, he never bombed England (though he did reportedly run missions in France and Russia).
Turns out the inner workings of politics, nobility, and family for the princesses of Greece and Denmark were pretty fascinating — and even though they're not the main focus of The Crown, it definitely serves as extra incentive to tune in.
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