The Full Wiki

More info on Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma

Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC , né Prince Louis of Battenberg (25 June 1900 – 27 August 1979) was a Britishmarker admiral and statesman of German descent, and an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He was the last Viceroy of the British Indian Empire (1947) and the first Governor-General of the independent Union of India (1947–48), from which the modern Republic of Indiamarker would emerge in 1950. From 1954 until 1959 he was the First Sea Lord, a position that had been held by his father, Prince Louis of Battenberg, some forty years earlier. In 1979 Mountbatten was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), who planted a bomb in his boat at Mullaghmore, County Sligomarker in the Republic of Irelandmarker.


Mountbatten was born as His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg, although his Germanmarker styles and titles were dropped in 1917. He was the youngest child and the second son of Prince Louis of Battenberg and his wife Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine. His maternal grandparents were Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, who was a daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. His paternal grandparents were Prince Alexander of Hesse and Princess Julia of Battenberg. His paternal grandparents' marriage was morganatic, because his grandmother was not of royal lineage; as a result, he and his father were styled "Serene Highness" rather than "Royal Highness," were not eligible to be titled Princes of Hesse and were given the less desirable Battenberg title. His siblings were Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark (mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), Queen Louise of Sweden, and George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven.

His father’s forty-five year career reached its pinnacle in 1912 when he was appointed as First Sea Lord in the Admiralty. However, two years later in 1914, due to the growing anti-German sentiments that swept across Europe during the first few months of World War I and a series of lost battles at sea, Prince Louis felt it was his duty to step down from the position. In 1917, when the Royal Family stopped using their German names and titles, Prince Louis of Battenberg became Louis Mountbatten, and was created Marquess of Milford Haven. His second son acquired the courtesy style Lord Louis Mountbatten and was known as Lord Louis informally until his death notwithstanding his being granted a viscountcy in recognition of his wartime service in the Far East and an earldom for his role in the transition of India from British dependency to sovereign state.

Early life

Mountbatten was home schooled for the first ten years of his life. He was then sent to Lockers Park Prep School and finally he followed his older brother to the Naval Cadet School.In childhood he visited the Imperial Court of Russia at St Petersburgmarker and became intimate with the doomed Russian Imperial Family; in later life he was called upon authoritatively to rebut claims by pretenders to be the supposedly surviving Grand Duchess Anastasia. As a young man he had romantic feelings towards Anastasia's sister, the Grand Duchess Maria, and until the end of his life he kept her photograph at his bedside.After his nephew's change of name and engagement to the future Queen, he is alleged to have referred to the United Kingdom's dynasty as the future "House of Mountbatten", whereupon the Dowager Queen Mary reportedly refused to have anything to do with "that Battenberg nonsense", and the name of the Royal house remains Windsor by subsequent Royal decree — this can, however, be changed on the Monarch's wishes. After the marriage of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, it was decreed that their non-royal descendants were to bear the (maiden) surname "Mountbatten-Windsor".


Early career

Lord Mountbatten served in the Royal Navy as a midshipman during World War I. After his service, he attended Christ's College, Cambridgemarker for two terms where he studied engineering in a program that was specially designed for ex-servicemen. During his time at Cambridge, Mountbatten had to balance his studies with the robust social life he enjoyed as a member of Christ’s College. In 1922, Mountbatten accompanied Edward, Prince of Wales, on a royal tour of India. It was during this trip that he met and proposed to his wife-to-be Edwina Ashley. They wed on 18 July, 1922.Edward and Mountbatten formed a close friendship during the trip but their bond deteriorated during the Abdication Crisis. Mountbatten's loyalties between the wider Royal Family and the throne, on the one hand, and the then-King, on the other, were tested. Mountbatten came down firmly on the side of Prince Albert, the Duke of York, who was to assume the throne as George VI in his brother's place.Pursuing his interests in technological development and gadgetry, Mountbatten joined the Portsmouth Signal School in 1924 and then went on to briefly study electronics at Greenwichmarker before returning to military service. In 1926, Mountbatten was appointed to Assistant Fleet Wireless and Signals Officer of the Mediterranean Fleet under the command of Admiral Sir Roger Keyes. Lord Mountbatten returned to the Signal School in 1929 as Senior Wireless Instructor. In 1931, he was again called back to military service when he was appointed Fleet Wireless Officer to the Mediterranean Fleet. It was during this time that he founded a Signal School in Malta and became acquainted with all the radio operators in the fleet.In 1934, Mountbatten was appointed to his first command. His ship was a new destroyer which he was to sail to Singapore and exchange for an older ship. He successfully brought the older ship back to port in Malta. By 1936, Mountbatten had been appointed to the Admiralty at Whitehall as a member of the Fleet Air Arm.

Second World War

Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander, seen during his tour of the Arakan Front in February 1944.
When war broke out in 1939, Mountbatten was moved to active service as commander of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla from aboard his ship the HMS Kelly, which was famous for its many daring exploits. In early May 1940, Mountbatten led a British convoy in through the fog to evacuate the Allied forces participating in the Namsos Campaign. It was also in 1940 that he invented the Mountbatten Pink naval camouflage pigment. His ship was sunk in May 1941 during the Battle of Crete.

In August 1941 Mountbatten was appointed captain of HMS Illustrious which lay in Norfolk, Virginiamarker for repairs following action at Maltamarker in the Mediterranean in January. During this period of relative inactivity he paid a flying visit to Pearl Harbormarker, where he was not impressed with the poor state of readiness and a general lack of co-operation between the US Navy and US Army, including the absence of a joint HQ.

Mountbatten was a favorite of Winston Churchill (although after 1948 Churchill never spoke to him again since he was famously annoyed with Mountbatten's later role in the independence of Indiamarker and Pakistanmarker), and on 27 October 1941 Mountbatten replaced Roger Keyes as Chief of Combined Operations. His duties in this role consisted of planning commando raids across the English Channel and inventing new technical aids to assist with opposed landings. Mountbatten was in large part responsible for the planning and organization of The Raid at St. Nazairemarker in mid 1942: an operation resulting in the putting into disuse of one of the most heavily defended docks in Nazi-occupied France until well after war's end, the ramifications of which greatly contributed to allied supremacy in the Battle of the Atlantic. He personally pushed through the disastrous Dieppe Raid of 19 August 1942 (which certain elements of the Allied military, notably Field Marshal Montgomery, felt was ill-conceived from the start). The raid on Dieppe was widely considered to be a disaster, with casualties (including those wounded and/or taken prisoner) numbering in the thousands, the great majority of them Canadiansmarker. Historian Brian Loring Villa concluded that Mountbatten conducted the raid without authority, but that his intention to do so was known to several of his superiors, who took no action to stop him.Three noteworthy technical achievements of Mountbatten and his staff include: (1) the construction of an underwater oil pipeline from the English coast to Normandy, (2) an artificial harbor constructed of concrete caissons and sunken ships, and (3) the development of amphibious Tank-Landing Ships.Another project that Mountbatten proposed to Churchill was Project Habakkuk. It was to be a massive and impregnable 600 meter aircraft carrier made from reinforced ice or "Pykrete." Habakkuk never was actualised due to its enormous price tag.

Mountbatten claimed that the lessons learned from the Dieppe Raid were necessary for planning the Normandy invasion on D-Day nearly two years later. However, military historians such as former Royal Marine Julian Thompson have written that these lessons should not have needed a debacle such as Dieppe to be recognised. Nevertheless, as a direct result of the failings of the Dieppe raid, The British made several innovations - most notably Hobart's Funnies - innovations which, in the course of the Normandy Landings, undoubtedly saved many lives on those three beach heads upon which commonwealth soldiers were landing (Gold Beachmarker, Juno Beachmarker, and Sword Beachmarker).

As a result of the Dieppe raid, Mountbatten became a controversial figure in Canadamarker, with the Royal Canadian Legion distancing itself from him during his visits there during his later career; his relations with Canadian veterans "remained frosty". Nevertheless, a Royal Canadian Sea Cadet corps (RCSCC #134 Admiral Mountbatten in Sudburymarker, Ontariomarker) was named after him in 1946.

In October 1943, Churchill appointed Mountbatten the Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command. His less practical ideas were sidelined by an experienced planning staff led by Lt-Col. James Allason, though some, such as a proposal to launch an amphibious assault near Rangoonmarker, got as far as Churchill before being quashed. He would hold the post until the South East Asia Command (SEAC) was disbanded in 1946.

During his time as Supreme Allied Commander of the Southeast Asia Theatre, his command oversaw the recapture of Burmamarker from the Japanese by General William Slim. Here, he worked closely with esteemed American general Albert Coady Wedemeyer. His diplomatic handling of General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell -- his deputy and also the officer commanding the American China Burma India Theatre -- and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalist forces, was as gifted as that of General Eisenhower with General Montgomery and Winston Churchill. A personal high point was the reception of the Japanese surrender in Singaporemarker when British troops returned to the island to receive the formal surrender of Japanese forces in the region led by General Itagaki Seishiro on 12 September 1945, codenamed Operation Tiderace.

Last Viceroy

His experience in the region and in particular his perceived Labour sympathies at that time led to Clement Attlee appointing him Viceroy of India after the war. In his position as Viceroy, Mountbatten oversaw the granting of independence to the Partitioned India as India and Pakistanmarker (In subsequent years, pre-Independence India has often been referred to as "British India." Prior to Partition and Independence, "British India" referred to those parts of India which were directly administered by the British, as opposed to those portions of pre-Independence India which were under the control of the Indian princes.)

He developed a strong relationship with the Indian princes who were said to have considerable confidence in him, and on the basis of his relationship with the British monarchy persuaded most of them to accede to the new states of India and Pakistan. This was vitally important in the lead-up to Indian independence, though ultimately post-Independence India and Pakistan abolished their prerogatives. It has never been made clear, and no Mountbatten biographies mention the issue, whether Mountbatten was deliberately or inadvertently enticing the Indian princes into acceding to their soon-oblivion.

Mountbatten quickly realised that a unified India was an unachievable goal and he resigned himself to accept a plan that called for the partitioning of an independent India and Pakistan.The general atmosphere surrounding the presence of Mountbatten in India was one of pressing urgency. Even the British government felt the need for the process of independence for India had to be quickly advanced. With such feelings surrounding the situation, the mind frame of Mountbatten being determined to provide a rapid independence for India is understandable. Mountbatten was steadfast and insistent on the swift and efficient action of transferring power from the British to the Indians. However such narrowly, focused determination did provide the impression the British were serious about actually giving India independence. Mountbatten was adamant about creating a set date for the transference of power from the British to the Indians. He felt if a date or timeline was not set, there would be a higher level of distrust towards him and the British government because the lack of such a plan would cause the Indians to think the British wanted to draw out the process so they could stay and impose their authority for longer . Such a thought process demonstrates either the British awareness of Indian desires or lack of the capacity to sustain colony as large and populous as India thus the urgency to give independence.

Gandhi in his struggle for freedom for India was emphatic in his message of gaining and maintaining a united India. The sentiment was successful for a while to rally people around the cause for freedom. However when the prospect of actually having freedom and independence within reach, sentiments took a different turn. When Mountbatten was sent to India, he was sent with the instructions of providing independence to a united India however if the situation changes just do what it takes to get Britain out promptly with minimal reputational damage . Although there was emphasis on having a united India as a result of the transference of power, the weighted importance given to Britain escaping with their noses clean deemed to be a higher priority which in turn affected the way negotiations took place when independence was discussed, especially between divided parties of Hindus and Muslims. Mountbatten was fond of Nehru and his liberal outlook for the country . However it was a different emotion expressed when he dealt with Jinnah, “…Mountbatten used strong language in describing Jinnah" Mountbatten did try to advocate for a united India and was almost successful at persuading Jinnah to maintain a united India because of the inconvenience of segregated portioned of Bengal and Punjab amongst those specific states. But Jinnah was unyielding at the insistence of a separate state being Pakistan even if it does have an uneven population and geographical shape due to the partitioning of Bengal and Punjab. Jinnah had the similar focused determination as Mountbatten in terms of the goals they wanted to achieve both being very different, yet Mountbatten was aware of the power which Jinnah possessed “ “If it could be said that any single man held the future of India in the palm of his hand in 1947,” said the viceroy, “that man was Mohammed Ali Jinnah,” . Slowly the other Indian party leaders were coming to accept the stance of Jinnah; Gandhi was more or less the only one fighting for a united India close to the official independence of India. With the submitting to the idea of partition by other Indian leaders, this made the process of Indian independence gather speed in the proceedings which made life simpler for Mountbatten at the time. The levels of simplicity provided by the Indian leaders lowered the need for Mountbatten to fight for and gain a united India.

After Independence (midnight of 14 August/15 August 1947, celebrated on the 14th in Pakistan and the 15th in India) he remained in New Delhimarker for ten months, serving as the first of independent India's two governors general until June 1948 (the monarchy being abolished in 1950 and the office of governor general of India replaced with a non-executive presidency.) Notwithstanding extremely effective self-promotion during his lifetime as to his own part in Indian independence — notably in the television series "The Life and Times of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Mountbatten of Burma", produced by his son-in-law Lord Brabourne, and Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins's rather sensationalised Freedom at Midnight (as to which he was the main informant) — his record is seen as mixed; one view is that he hastened the independence process unduly, foreseeing vast disruption and loss of life and not wanting this to occur on the British watch, but thereby actually causing it to occur, especially during the partition of the Punjab, but also to a lesser extent, in Bengalmarker.

John Kenneth Galbraith, the Canadian-American Harvard Universitymarker economist, who advised governments of India during the 1950s, became an intimate of Nehru and served as the American ambassador from 1961–63, was a particularly harsh critic of Mountbatten in this regard. The horrific casualties of the partition of the Punjab are luridly described in Collins' and LaPierre's Freedom at Midnight, as to which Mountbatten was the principal informant, and more latterly in Bapsi Sidhwa's novel Ice Candy Man (published in the USA as Cracking India), made into the film Earth.

Career after India and Pakistan

After India, Mountbatten served from 1948–1950 as commander of a cruiser squadron in the Mediterranean Fleet. He then went on to serve as Fourth Sea Lord in the Admiralty from 1950–52 and then returned to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1952 to serve as Naval Commander-in-chief for three years. Mountbatten served his final posting in the Admiralty as First Sea Lord from 1955–59, the position which his father had held some forty years prior. This was the first time in Royal Naval history that a father and son had gained so high a rank .

In his biography of Mountbatten, Philip Ziegler notes on his ambitious character:
"His vanity, though child-like, was monstrous, his ambition unbridled. The truth, in his hands, was swiftly converted from what it was, to what it should have been. He sought to rewrite history with cavalier indifference to the facts to magnify his own achievements. There was a time when I became so enraged by what I began to feel was his determination to hoodwink me that I found it necessary to place on my desk a notice saying: REMEMBER, IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING, HE WAS A GREAT MAN."

While serving as First Sea Lord, his primary concerns dealt with devising plans on how the Royal Navy would keep shipping lanes open in the event that Britain was hit with a nuclear attack. Today this seems of minor importance but at the time few people comprehended the potential limitless destruction nuclear weapons possess and the ongoing dangers posed by the fallout. Military commanders had no need to understand the physics involved in a nuclear explosion. This becomes evident when Mountbatten had to be reassured that the fission reactions from the Bikini Atoll tests would not spread through the oceans and blow up the planet. As Mountbatten became more familiar with this new form of weaponry, he increasingly grew opposed to their use in combat yet at the same time he realised the potential nuclear energy had, especially with regards to submarines. Mountbatten clearly expresses his feelings towards the use of nukes in combat in his article "A Military Commander Surveys The Nuclear Arms Race," which was published shortly after his death in International Security in the winter of 1979–80. After leaving the Admiralty, Lord Mountbatten took the position of Chief of the Defense Staff. He served in this post for six years during which he was able to consolidate the three service departments of the military branch into a single Ministry of Defence.

Mountbatten was appointed the first Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wightmarker following that county's creation in 1974. He kept the position until his death.

Mountbatten took great pride in enhancing intercultural understanding and in 1984, with his eldest daughter as the patron, the Mountbatten Internship Programme was developed to allow young adults the opportunity to enhance their intercultural appreciation and experience by spending time abroad.

From 1967 until 1978, Mountbatten became president of the United World Colleges Organisation, then represented by a single college: that of Atlantic Collegemarker in South Wales. Mountbatten supported the United World Colleges and encouraged heads of state, politicians and personalities throughout the world to share his interest. Under Mountbatten's presidency and personal involvement, the United World College of South East Asia was established in Singaporemarker in 1971, followed by the UWC of the Pacific (now known as Pearson College) in Victoria, Canadamarker in 1974. In 1978, Lord Mountbatten of Burma passed the Presidency to his great-nephew, HRH The Prince of Wales.

Alleged plots against Harold Wilson

Peter Wright, in his book Spycatcher, claimed that in 1967 Mountbatten attended a private meeting with press baron and MI5marker agent Cecil King, and the Government's chief scientific adviser, Solly Zuckerman. King and Peter Wright were members of a group of thirty MI5 officers who wanted to stage a coup against the then crisis-stricken Labour Government of Harold Wilson, and King allegedly used the meeting to urge Mountbatten to become the leader of a Government of national salvation. Solly Zuckerman pointed out that it was treason, and the idea came to nothing because of Mountbatten's reluctance to act.

In 2006 the BBC documentary The Plot Against Harold Wilson alleged that there had been another plot involving Mountbatten to oust Wilson during his second term in office (1974-76). The period was characterised by high inflation, increasing unemployment and widespread industrial unrest. The alleged plot centred around right-wing former military figures who were supposedly building private armies to counter the perceived threat from trade unions and the Soviet Unionmarker. They believed that the Labour Party, which is partly funded by affiliated trade unions, was unable and unwilling to counter these developments and that Wilson was either a Soviet agent or at the very least a Communist sympathiser, claims Wilson strongly denied. The documentary alleged that a coup plot was planned to overthrow Wilson and replace him with Mountbatten using the private armies and sympathisers in the military and MI5. The documentary stated that Mountbatten and other members of the British Royal Family supported the plot and were involved in its planning.

Wilson had long believed that there had been an MI5 sponsored plan to overthrow him. This suspicion was heightened in 1974 when the Army occupied Heathrow Airport on the grounds that it was training for a possible IRA terrorist action there. Marcia Falkender, a senior aide and intimate friend of Wilson, asserted that the Prime Minister hadn't been informed of the exercise and that it was ordered as a practice-run for a military takeover. Wilson was also convinced that a small group of right-wing MI5 officers were conducting a smear campaign against him. Such allegations had previously been attributed to Wilson's paranoia, not least because in 1988, Peter Wright admitted that the allegations in his book were "unreliable" and greatly exaggerated. However the BBC documentary interviewed several new witnesses who gave new credibility to the allegations.

Crucially, the first official history of MI5, Defence of the Realm published in 2009, tacitly confirmed that there was a plot against Wilson and that MI5 did have a file on him. Yet it also made clear that the plot was in no way official and that any activity centred around a small group of discontented officers. This much had already been confirmed by former cabinet secretary Lord Hunt, who concluded in a secret inquiry conducted in 1996 that, "There is absolutely no doubt at all that a few, a very few, malcontents in MI5 . . . a lot of them like Peter Wright who were rightwing, malicious and had serious personal grudges – gave vent to these and spread damaging malicious stories about that Labour government."

Mountbatten's role in the plotting remains unclear. At the very least he appears to have associated with people who were greatly concerned about the country in the 1970s and were prepared to consider acting against the Government. It also seems certain that he shared their concerns. However, even though the BBC documentary alleged that he had offered his services to the coup plotters, it cannot be confirmed that he actually would have led a coup had it come about. It is notable that any plots that were discussed never actually took place, perhaps because the number of people involved was so small that any chances of success were slim.

Personal life


Mountbatten's nickname among family and friends was "Dickie," notable in that "Richard" was not among his given names. This was because his great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, suggested the nickname of "Nicky", however it got mixed up with the many Nickys of the Russian Imperial Family ("Nicky" was particularly used to refer to Nicholas II, the last Tsar) so they changed it to Dickie. Mountbatten was married on 18 July 1922 to Edwina Cynthia Annette Ashley, daughter of Wilfred William Ashley, later 1st Baron Mount Temple, himself a grandson of the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. She was the favourite granddaughter of the Edwardian magnate Sir Ernest Cassel and the principal heir to his fortune. There followed a glamorous honeymoon tour of European courts and America which famously included a visit with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin in Hollywoodmarker, Chaplin creating a widely seen home movie "Nice and Easy", featuring the talents of Fairbanks, Pickford, Chaplin and the Mountbattens. They had two daughters: Patricia Mountbatten, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma (born on 14 February 1924), and Lady Pamela Carmen Louise (born on 19 April 1929).

The couple, in some ways, seemed incompatible from the beginning. Lord Mountbatten's obsession with being organised led him to keep a very close watch on Edwina and he demanded her constant attention. Having no real hobby or passions and living the lifestyle of royalty, Edwina spent most of her time partying with the British and Indian elite, going on cruises and secluding herself at the couple's country house on weekends. Even with growing unhappiness on both their parts, Louis refused to get a divorce fearing that it would hinder his climb up the military command chain. There were charges of infidelity against both. Edwina's numerous affairs led Louis to pursue a relationship with a French woman named Yola Letellier. From this point forward their marriage disintegrated into constant accusations and suspicions. Throughout the 1930s both readily admitted to numerous affairs. World War II gave Edwina the opportunity to focus on something other than Louis' infidelity. She joined the St. John's Ambulance Brigade as an administrator. This role gave Edwina the legacy of being a heroine of the Partition Period because of her efforts to ease the pain and suffering of the people in the Punjab.

It has been well documented that Edwina and India's first PM Jawaharlal Nehru became intimate friends after Indian Independence. During the summers, she would frequent the PM's house so she could lounge about on his veranda during the hot Delhi days. Personal correspondence between the two reveals a satisfying yet frustrating relationship. Edwina states in one of her letters "Nothing that we did or felt would ever be allowed to come between you and your work or me and mine -- because that would spoil everything." Despite this, it is still debated whether or not their relationship became physical. Both Mountbatten daughters have candidly acknowledged that their mother had a fiery temperament and was not always supportive of her husband when jealousy of his high profile overbore a sense of their having common cause. Lady Mountbatten died on 21 February 1960 at the age of 58 while in North Borneo inspecting medical facilities. Her death is thought to have been caused by a heart condition.

Until his assassination in 1979, Mountbatten kept a photograph of his cousin Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia, beside his bed in memory of the crush he once had upon her.

Daughter as heir

Since Mountbatten had no sons, when he was created Viscount on 23 August 1946, then Earl and Baron on 28 October 1947, the Letters Patent were drafted such that the titles would pass to the female line and its male issue. This was at his firm insistence: his relationship with his elder daughter had always been particularly close and it was his special wish that she succeed to the title in her own right. There was longstanding precedent for such remainders for military commanders: past examples included the 1st Viscount Nelson and the 1st Earl Roberts.

Mentorship of Prince of Wales

Mountbatten was a strong influence in the upbringing of his great-nephew, The Prince of Wales, and later as a mentor—"Honorary Grandfather" and "Honorary Grandson", they fondly called each other according to the Jonathan Dimbleby biography of the Prince—though according to both the Ziegler biography of Mountbatten and the Dimbleby biography of the Prince the results may have been mixed. He from time to time strongly upbraided the Prince for showing tendencies towards the idle pleasure-seeking dilettantism of his predecessor as Prince of Wales, King Edward VIII, later known as the Duke of Windsor, whom Mountbatten had known well in their youth. Yet he also encouraged the Prince to enjoy the bachelor life while he could and then to marry a young and inexperienced girl so as to ensure a stable married life.

Mountbatten's qualification for offering advice to this particular heir to the throne was unique; it was he who had arranged the visit of George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Dartmouth Royal Naval Collegemarker on 22 July 1939, taking care to include the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in the invitation, but assigning his nephew, Cadet Prince Philip of Greece, to keep them amused while their parents toured the facility. This was the first recorded meeting of Charles's future parents. But a few months later, Mountbatten's efforts nearly came to naught when he received a letter from his sister Alice in Athensmarker informing him that Philip was visiting her and had agreed to permanently repatriate to Greece. Within days, Philip received a command from his cousin and sovereign, King George II of the Hellenes, to resume his naval career in Britain which, though given without explanation, the young prince obeyed.
In 1974 Mountbatten began corresponding with Charles about a potential marriage to his granddaughter, Hon. Amanda Knatchbull. It was about this time he also recommended that the 25-year-old prince get on with sowing some wild oats.Charles dutifully wrote to Amanda's mother (who was also his godmother), Lady Brabourne, about his interest. Her answer was supportive, but advised him that she thought her daughter still rather young to be courted.

Four years later Mountbatten secured an invitation for himself and Amanda to accompany Charles on his planned 1980 tour of India. Their fathers promptly objected. Prince Philip thought that the Indian public's reception would more likely reflect response to the uncle than to the nephew. Lord Brabourne counselled that the intense scrutiny of the press would be more likely to drive Mountbatten's godson and granddaughter apart than together.

Charles was re-scheduled to tour India alone, but Mountbatten did not live to the planned date of departure. When Charles finally did propose marriage to Amanda, later in 1979, the circumstances were tragically changed, and she refused him.


Mountbatten usually holidayed at his summer home in Mullaghmoremarker, County Sligomarker, a small seaside village between Bundoranmarker, County Donegalmarker and Sligomarker, County Sligo on the northwest coast of Irelandmarker. Bundoran was a popular holiday destination for volunteers of the IRA, many of whom were aware of Mountbatten's presence and movements in Mullaghmore. Despite security advice and warnings from the Garda Síochána, on 27 August 1979, Mountbatten went lobster potting in a thirty-foot (10 m) wooden boat, the Shadow V, which had been moored in the harbour at Mullaghmore. An IRA member named Thomas McMahon had slipped onto the unguarded boat that night and attached a radio-controlled fifty-pound (23 kg) bomb. When Mountbatten was on the boat en route to Donegal Baymarker, an unknown person detonated the bomb from shore. McMahon was arrested earlier at a Garda checkpoint between Longfordmarker and Granardmarker. Mountbatten, then aged 79, was seriously wounded and died soon after the blast by drowning while unconscious in the bay. Others killed in the blast were Nicholas Knatchbull, his elder daughter's 14-year-old son; Paul Maxwell, a 15-year-old youth from County Fermanagh who was working as a crew member; and Baroness Brabourne, his elder daughter's 83-year-old mother-in-law who was seriously injured in the explosion, and died from her injuries the following day.Nicholas Knatchbull's mother and father, along with his twin brother Timothy, survived the explosion but were seriously injured.

McMahon was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder on 23 November 1979.

Sinn Féin vice-president Gerry Adams said of Mountbatten's death:

The IRA gave clear reasons for the execution.
I think it is unfortunate that anyone has to be killed, but the furor created by Mountbatten's death showed up the hypocritical attitude of the media establishment.
As a member of the House of Lords, Mountbatten was an emotional figure in both British and Irish politics.
What the IRA did to him is what Mountbatten had been doing all his life to other people; and with his war record I don't think he could have objected to dying in what was clearly a war situation.
He knew the danger involved in coming to this country.
In my opinion, the IRA achieved its objective: people started paying attention to what was happening in Ireland.

On the same day Mountbatten was assassinated, the IRA also ambushed and killed eighteen British Army soldiers, sixteen of them from the Parachute Regiment at Warrenpointmarker, County Down in what became known as the Warrenpoint ambushmarker. After this action, graffiti proclaiming "Bloody Sunday's Not Forgotten, We Got Eighteen And Mountbatten" was seen in some Republican areas in Ireland.

Prince Charles took Mountbatten's death particularly hard, remarking to friends that things were never the same after losing his mentor.It has recently been revealed that Mountbatten had been favourable towards the eventual reunification of Ireland.


Mountbatten's grave at Romsey Abbey
The President of Ireland, Patrick Hillery, and the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, attended a memorial service for Mountbatten in St. Patrick's Cathedralmarker in Dublinmarker.Mountbatten was buried in Romsey Abbeymarker after a televised funeral in Westminster Abbeymarker which he himself had comprehensively planned.

On 23 November 1979, Thomas McMahon was convicted of murder for his part in the bombing. He was released in 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

On hearing of Mountbatten's death, the then Master of the Queen's Music, Malcolm Williamson, was moved to write the Lament in Memory of Lord Mountbatten of Burma for violin and string orchestra. One of the most poignant of tributes paid to Mountbatten, the 11-minute work was given its first performance on 5 May 1980 by the Scottish Baroque Ensemble, conducted by Leonard Friedman.

Styles from birth to death

  • His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg (1900–1917)
    • German: Durchlaucht Prinz Ludwig Franz Albrecht Viktor Nicholas Georg von Battenberg
  • Louis Mountbatten (1917)
  • Lord Louis Mountbatten (1917–1920)
  • Lord Louis Mountbatten, MVO (1920–1922)
  • Lord Louis Mountbatten, KCVO (1921–1937)
  • Lord Louis Mountbatten, GCVO (1937–1941)
  • Lord Louis Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO (1941–1943)
  • Lord Louis Mountbatten, GCVO, CB, DSO (1943–1946)
  • The Right Honourable The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCVO, KCB, DSO (1946–1947)
  • The Right Honourable The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCVO, KCB, DSO, PC (1947)
  • The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, KCB, DSO, PC (1947–1955)
  • The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC (1955–1965)
  • The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC (1965–1979)

Popular culture

Lord Mountbatten (played by Christopher Owen) appears in the 2008 film The Bank Job, telling the story of a government-approved bank robbery in the 1970s. In a covert rendezvous at Paddington stationmarker, Mountbatten is portrayed as the representative of the British government and gives the robbers documents guaranteeing immunity from prosecution, in exchange for naked photographs of Princess Margaret, potentially embarrassing to the Royal Family. Mountbatten quips "I haven't had this much excitement since the war".

In 1986, Masterpiece Theatre put on The Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy, starring Nichol Williamson and Janet Suzman as Lord and Lady Mountbatten. It focused on the India years and hinted at Lady Mountbatten's relationship with Nehru.

In his song Post World War Two Blues, published on the LP Past, Present and Future from 1973, singer and songwriter Al Stewart has a reference to Mountbatten's controversy with Winston Churchill about India.

Mountbatten was due to feature in the recently canceled film Indian Summer which was to cover his time as Viceroy of India, and potentially the affair between his wife and Nehru. It was to be loosely based on the book Indian Summer: The Secret history of the end of an empire by Alex von Tunzelmann.

Lord Mountbatten was played by David Warner in the 2008 television film In Love with Barbara, a biopic of the romantic novelist Barbara Cartland which was shown on BBC Four in the United Kingdommarker.

The Mountbatten Schoolmarker was opened in his name in 1969 on land that originally used to be part of the Broadlands Estate in Whitenap, Romseymarker.

The School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at Heriot-Watt Universitymarker, Edinburgh is named after him.

Benny Hill told a famous joke which went, "What's white and flies?" "Lord Mountbatten's Plimsol"

In The Simpsons Dead Putting Society episode, when Bart and Todd decide to call the final round a draw and split the prize, one of the tournament announcers says "This is the most stirring display of gallantry and sportsmanship since Mountbatten gave India back to the Punjabs."


A road in South-Eastern Singapore was named Mountbatten Road, in honour of Louis Mountbatten.


See also


  1. Burke's Guide to the Royal Family: edited by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, p. 303.
  2. Lord Zuckerman,Earl Mountbatten of Burma, K.G., O.M. 25 June 1900-27 August 1979, in Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 27 (Nov., 1981), pp 355-364. Accessed 13/05/2009 at
  3. Zuckerman,Earl Mountbatten of Burma, K.G., O.M. 25 June 1900-27 August 1979
  4. "Who Was Responsible For Dieppe?" CBC Archives, broadcast 9 September 1962. Retrieved 1 August 2007.
  5. The Hot Seat", James Allason, Blackthorn, London 2006.
  9. SarDesai, D.R, INDIA: THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY (Boulder: Westview Press, 2008), 309-313
  11. Greenberg, Jonathan D. “Generations of Memory: Remembering Partition in India/Pakistan and Israel/Palestine.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25, no.1 (2005): 89. Project MUSE
  14. See, e.g., Wolpert, Stanley (2006). Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India.
  15. Patton, Allyson, Broadlands: Lord Mountbatten's Country Home in British Heritage, Vol. 26, Issue 1,March 2005, pp. 14-17. Accessed from Academic Search Complete on 13/05/2009.
  16. Ziegler, Philip Mountbatten New York, 1985. pp 17
  17. Zuckerman, 363.
  18. Mountbatten, Louis, "A Military Commander Surveys The Nuclear Arms Race," International Security, Vol. 4 No. 3 Winter 1979-1980, MIT Press. pp. 3-5
  22. Bailey, Katherine, "India's Last Vicereine," British Heritage, Vol. 21, Issue 3, Apr/May 2000, pp. 16
  23. King and Wilson (2003), p. 49
  24. Patton, Allyson, "Broadlands: Lord Mountbatten's Country Home," British Heritage March 2005, Vol. 26 Issue 1, pp. 14-17.
  25. Royal by Robert Lacey, 2002.
  26. [1]
  27. [2]
  28. IRA bomb kills Lord MountbattenBBC News On This Day
  29. A Secret History of the IRA, Ed Moloney, 2002. (PB) ISBN 0-393-32502-4 (HB) ISBN 0-71-399665-X p.176
  30. Malcolm Williamson Obituary The Independent, 4 March 2003
  31. The Bank Job is Sweaty and Suspenseful - TIME
  32. Indian Summer: story of the Mountbattens - Times Online

Further references

See also: David Leigh, "The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 1945–1976", London: Heinemann, 1988

Further reading

  • Philip Ziegler, Mountbatten: the official biography, (Collins, 1985)
  • Richard Hough, Mountbatten; Hero of our time, (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1980)
  • The Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten (Hutchinson, 1968)

  • Andrew Roberts Eminent Churchillians, (Phoenix Press, 1994).
  • Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins Freedom at Midnight, (Collins, 1975).
  • Robert Lacey Royal (2002)
  • A.N. Wilson After the Victorians: 1901–1953, (Hutchinson, 2005)
  • Jon Latimer Burma: The Forgotten War, (John Murray, 2004)
  • Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh (editor), Burke's Guide to the Royal Family, Burke's Peerage, London, 1973, ISBN 0220662223
  • Tony Heathcote The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734–1995, (Pen & Sword Ltd, 2002), ISBN 0 85052 835 6
  • Timothy Knatchbull From a Clear Blue Sky: Surviving the Mountbatten Bomb, (Hutchinson 2009). A personal account by Mountbatten's surviving twin grandson.

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address