04
Oct-2020

A Princess at Filey

Whilst Filey was a regular haunt of royalty, and the nobility, in the years before the First World War, the revolution in international travel, particularly in the inter-war period, took many of Filey’s former visitors to more distant destinations.

Probably one of the last royal holidaymakers to Filey was Princess Katherine of Greece and Denmark, who booked into the Royal Crescent Hotel for the month of August in 1936. The princess came from an extraordinary background, she was the granddaughter of a King and a Kaiser, the daughter of a King, the sister of three Kings and a Queen, was destined to be the aunt of a King and two other Queens and a first cousin of the future Duke of Edinburgh.

She was born Princess Katherine of Greece and Denmark, being the daughter of Constantine of Greece and Sophie of Prussia. Her father’s lineage was from the Russian and Greek royal families, while on her mother’s side she was related to the Emperor of Germany, Frederick and his wife Victoria, who herself was the daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

In Greece, Katherine’s parents were deposed on several occasions, the first time when she was only four years of age. During the First World War, Lady Katherine was educated in Switzerland and later at a boarding school in Kent. After the First World War the Greek Royal family were exiled to Florence, Italy, where she lived with her sister, Queen Helen of Romania. In 1934 she was a bridesmaid – along with the young Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II – at the wedding of the Duke of Kent and Lady Katherine’s cousin Princess Marina of Greece.

Lady Katherine had classic good looks, indeed, on a visit to Hollywood in the 1930s she was offered a film contract, which she politely declined.  Throughout her life she was said to have retained an old-fashioned style and elegance.

In 1935 the monarchy was restored in Greece and Lady Katherine returned with her family to Athens. All her three brothers were, at various stages, Kings of Greece, but the political turmoil, that had so badly affected her youth, continued, with frequent coups and social unrest in the country. When the Second World War broke out in 1939 she joined the Greek Red Cross and was involved in nursing at army field hospitals. When the German’s overran Greece in 1941, the family was plucked to safety by an RAF flying boat. Lady Katherine ended up in South Africa where she spent the war nursing and working with the blind in a military hospital in Cape Town. There she was known simply as Sister Katherine.

After the war she came to Britain, on the long sea voyage from South Africa, she met her future husband, Major Richard Campbell Brandram MC, of the Royal Artillery. They were married in 1947. After the wedding King George VI granted her the title of Lady Katherine Brandram. Despite her lineage, Lady Katherine enjoyed painting and a quiet family life in a cottage in Marlow. However, she did attend the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and her cousin Prince Philip in 1947 and the wedding of Crown Prince Paul of Greece in 1995.

In her later years Lady Katherine, a naturalised British citizen, was described as a shy, sweet-natured widow, she lived in her modest house with a garden at Marlow. Unassuming and said to be bird-like in appearance, there was very little that hinted at her extraordinary past. One of her last public appearances was at the Duke of Edinburgh’s 80th birthday service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor in June 2001. She died aged ninety-four in 2007. She is buried, along with her husband, in the Royal Cemetery at the Tatoi Palace in Greece.

Royal Crescent Hotel

The Royal Crescent Hotel, where Princess Katherine spent August 1936.

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