Kate Middleton’s great-grandaunt’s asylum past, who died in a psychiatric hospital, mirrors the fate of Prince William’s great-grandmother: one historian reveals similarities between the two women’s ‘parallel lives’
- The ancestors of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had remarkably similar lives
- Gertrude Middleton and Princess Alice of Battenberg both became nuns
- Both were also volunteer nurses and were treated in sanatoriums and died
- The similarities between their relatives were uncovered by an Australian historian
The Duchess of Cambridge’s great-grandaunt died in a psychiatric hospital, an eerie echo of the fate of Prince William’s great-grandmother.
The similarities between the two ancestors have gone unrecognized – with an Australian historian’s discovery that the two women led “parallel lives”.
Kate’s ancestor, Gertrude Middleton, and William’s great-grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, both became nuns, having been volunteer nurses during World War I.
Nurse Olive Middleton (back row, far right) was Kate Middleton’s great-grandmother and second from right, at the back is Gertrude Middleton, Kate’s great-grandaunt. The sisters-in-law were pictured in 1915 at Gledhow Hall, the estate of their cousin, Baroness Airedale
The two women also had darker sides to their stories.
The Duchess’ great-grandaunt, sister of her great-grandfather Noel Middleton, was treated at the Lawn Hospital for Mental and Nervous Diseases in Lincoln in the 1930s.
She died in March 1942 at the age of 66 at the facility that treated “superior patients”.
Prince William’s great-grandmother, the mother of the late Duke of Edinburgh, was also treated in a sanatorium.
Michael Reed, a historian at Ilim College in Australia – who made the discovery about Kate’s ancestors – told The Daily Telegraph: “They basically lived side by side, a few years apart.
“Both were volunteer nurses associated with the Red Cross – Gertrude during the First World War and Princess Alice during the First and Second.
“Both have been committed social workers to the homeless and disadvantaged and have proven to be generous financial benefactors.
“But most startling was the revelation that like Princess Alice, Gertrude had been a patient in a psychiatric hospital. Their stories are fascinating and sad at the same time.”
The Duchess of Cambridge’s great-grandaunt was a bright student and attended a boarding school next to the University of St Andrews, where Kate and William met as undergraduates
A bright student, Gertrude Middleton attended an all-girls boarding school adjacent to the University of St Andrews, where Kate and William met as undergraduates.
Like the Duchess, Gertrude was athletic, playing both lacrosse and tennis, a favorite pastime of Kate’s. She also played the piano, which Kate herself demonstrated impressively during a Christmas carol concert last year.
She volunteered with the Red Cross with her sister-in-law Olive Middleton, the Duchess’ great-grandmother.
Both Gertrude and Princess Alice followed a very religious path throughout their lives, with Gertrude becoming a nun at the Anglican Monastery of Epiphany in Cornwall and Princess Alice founding a Greek Orthodox nunnery.
After being diagnosed with schizophrenia, Princess Alice was sent to a sanatorium in Switzerland in 1930.
She died at Buckingham Palace in 1965, aged 84.