Lord Louis, 1st Eart Mountbatten of Burma was second cousin to the Queen and uncle to Prince Philip. He was a great great grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He was Admiral of the Fleet, Viceroy of India, and a war hero. He and his wife Edwina were intimately connected to the Royal Family with close association with Edward VIII when Prince of Wales and the social circle that included such people as Wallis Warfield Simpson, later Duchess of Windsor. He carried a German family name since he descended from one of Queen Victoria’s daughter’s German lines; they were the Battenbergs. When King George V changed the Royal House’s name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince Albert’s old German name, to Windsor, the remainder of the family which carried German names and titles like Lord Mountbatten’s name were changed to acceptable English variations. The Battenbergs became the Mountbattens. Even though many who carried the German titles were thoroughly British, like Earl Mountbatten’s father who was also Admiral of the Fleet, they were discreetly moved aside to distance the Royal Family from any German contamination in the British public’s eyes during the war with Germany.
So, Earl Mountbatten grew up in a world of “grand plotting.” His sisters were married to members of the German aristocracy and one of his sisters and her husband were in-laws to the dethroned King and Queen of Greece who found themselves without a throne and without a country. His sister was married to the King of Sweden. But Lord Mountbatten, with impeccable royal connections, was thoroughly English and had a grand plot in mind.
When King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and their two daughters Elizabeth and Margaret Rose went on a cruise up the River Dart, Lord Mountbatten arranged for his nephew Philip who was attending the Naval Academy to show the two young princess around the school. The “grand plan” was to introduce the future Queen of England to Mountbatten’s nephew who had been “adopted” by the Earl in hopes that a romance would develop. Well, as the story goes, from the first moment the young princess saw Prince Philip, the Queen became very singular in her determination to see more of the young Philip.
Earl Mountbatten, called Dickie in the family, was behind the scene– all the way. Philip wrote to the princess all during the war, and she kept his mustached photo on her desk in Buckingham Palace. This relationship concerned the King, the Queen, and certainly Queen Mary who did not trust the Mountbatten family and all their escapades. Queen Mary even made a list of acceptable princes throughout Europe who would be suitable for her granddaughter, and Philip was not on the list. But, Lord Mountbatten persisted. Eventually, it was announced that the Princess Elizabeth would marry Philip who was given the title Prince and Duke of Edinburgh, but no HRH.
As the years came and went, Dickie grew closer and closer to the Royal Family. When King George VI died and his daughter became Queen Elizabeth II, Dickie went into for the kill: change the name of the royal house to MOUNTBATTEN, Philip’s new family name. By this time, Winston Churchill was Prime Minister again, and he saw clearly what was happening. Lord Mountbatten was a powerful personality with fingers in every pie, but he was no match for Winston Churchill. It was then announced that the Royal House would remain the House of Windsor. Dickie lost this round, but he was not about to stop his passionate plotting.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s first child, Charles Prince of Wales, grew up closely tutored and influenced by his uncle. Prince Charles was much closer to his Uncle Dickie than he was to his own father Prince Philip, and that slight distance has remained. Dickie was an interesting individual. Love, sex, romance were only aspects of the personality which played a roll when manipulation was needed to bring about a desired outcome. At the time of his marriage to Edwina Ashley, the rumors circulated that the dashing young Mountbatten was sexually interested only as far it fit into his grand plan. Edwina was the richest heiress of her generation and therefore of great interest to the dashing Dickie. Other rumors surfaced, but they were no different from rumors that tagged onto most male members of the privileged English aristocracy. Most of their lives were spent apart while he was away on naval expeditions, leaving the social Edwina to her many male suitors. This was the world of the Duchess of Windsor.
During the Second World War, Dickie and Edwina served the nation valiantly. After the war, they accepted the daunting task of dealing with Nehru of India as the “Jewel in the Crown” moved to independence. The intrigue which surrounded both their lives fills books and more books, but the fact is they did a magnificent job. Edwina’s affection for the dashing Nehru was of great help to Lord Mountbatten who had a direct line to the thinking in the Indian power structure. Mountbatten’s immense love of plotting served him well in this very important assignment.
The great events of 1980 have a long and tragic story. The idea of a royal marriage between Charles and Diana Spencer was probably cooked up in Clarence House by the Queen Mother and her Lady-in-Waiting, Lady Fermoy. Lady Fermoy just happened to be Diana’s grandmother. The two old dowagers thought this was the perfect match for Prince Charles. The Prince was growing older, and Lord Mountbatten had suggested that he “play the field” before finally settling down. But eventually, the Prince had reached an age when there was tremendous pressure on him to marry. He would have preferred to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles from the start,but that was nixed very early, and the Prince was sent to sea. Now the great tragedy began to emerge: marry Lady Diana Spencer whom Charles liked but did not love, have two children, and then go on your way. The legend has it that this advice came from the great plotter himself: Lord Mountbatten. There is no doubt that Prince Charles listened to his Uncle and went through with the tragic marriage. The Prince of Wales got caught in a time warp. Most aristocratic and royal marriages had been arranged to provide heirs, but a modern princess and a contemporary society weren’t having anything to do with old ideas and old ways. The emergence of a prying press and brutal intrusion into the lives of members of the Royal Family were the wild cards that caught everyone off guard, and the unhappy marriage was revealed. In previous generations, the Prince and Princess of Wales would have simply gone their separate ways–just like Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
The Princess of Wales was ill-equipped to deal with the situation. Rather than HANDLE IT TO HER ADVANTAGE, she went on the attack and did a brilliant and brutal job of it. I know what Charles did and why he did it, and I know where the pressure and advice came from. I don’t excuse him, but I understand the situation. The Princess of Wales is an entirely different matter. The revenge she felt drove her to one destruction after another. If she had learned emotional control and discipline in her own chaotic home life when a child, she would have handled this arrangement differently from the beginning of the engagement. I feel very sorry for what happened to the Princess of Wales–no doubt about it. I agree with the Queen when she spoke of her great service to her many charities and to the care of the helpless. But even that was not enough! She was aching inside, and she was out for revenge for what she considered her unfortunate and abused situation. My mother used to say that adversity plays out in the end. And that is the very truth in this unfortunate matter.
I have thought about this situation for nearly 30 years, and I don’t know everything, but I have lived 2 minutes walk from Clarence House for many years, and I think I know quite a bit. Prince Charles was unable to marry the person he wanted to spend his life with; that would not happen today. The Queen Mother’s powerful influence on Prince Charles victimized him. He would have done anything to please his beloved Granny. Diana was of aristocratic birth with years of royal connections and had no previous affairs–today, all that would not have been required. For me, Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, as well as Princess Margaret, were victims of an old, outdated system.
And where do we find the roots of this great tragedy of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer? It is right in the lap of Earl Mountbatten of Burma whose passionate plotting even with the younger generation backfired. His plotting worked with Prince Philip and the Queen because the Queen knew how to handle her man, and he had great respect for her. It has been a sound and productive relationship, not without its ups and downs. But, by the time of the marriage of the Prince of Wales, the haughty aristocratic uncle–so long trusted by the Royal Family–had lost his talent as a passionate plotter. The Earl had not moved into a new era where transparency would catch up with him. The tragedy was his own making.
The Queen Mother, the second great plotter, is gone; Lady Fermoy is gone; Lord Mountbatten was killed by the IRA; Diana Princess of Wales is gone. Prince William has seen all this tragedy. He is having nothing to do with it or with anyone anywhere like Louis Mountbatten of Burma. He likes his father; they have built a closeness because healthy people put the puzzle together and move on, not repeating the tragedy a second time. We have a young prince who likes to spend evenings with the Middletons in the country where the central hall is filled with boots and walking coats. This young man, out of the agony of his background, has developed an inclusive personality with no need for revenge or plotting. The world Lord Mountbatten loved, the social world of Wallis Simpson and the cafe societies of his time–full of decadence and plots on a very devious psychological level– are far from the mentality of this very normal prince.
Many years ago now, I was walking around Belgrave Square with my friend Andrew Metcalfe. We saw a very erect figure, immaculately turned out, walking toward us–rather caught in deep thought. When we drew near the gentleman, we realized that it was Lord Mountbatten who lived just around the corner. Even on a casual walk around the Square, he exuded elegance, power, manners, and extreme dignity. Andy, who lived nearby, told me that he sees the Earl often as he carries on his life in London. I like what Andy said to me: ”Earl Mountbatten is like a haunted figure from another age, living a dream about what is no longer. There is an emptiness about him.” When I see his photograph, he has a similar profile to Prince Philip, his uncle.
Well, you have my thinking. Thank goodness Prince Charles has broken away from all this and is now closely connected to his boys who have clear minds and transparent thinking. Mountbatten, I wish you had stayed in India and kept the Duke of Windsor with you. None of the 1980/1990 tragedies would have happened. My father used to say when talking about Lord Mountbatten: THERE IS TROUBLE! HE IS OUT OF TOUCH.
Thomas Moore email: TMooreSr@me.com Telephone: 801.791.9918