Military Wiki
Admiral of the Fleet
The Right Honourable

The Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Governor General of India

In office
15 August 1947 – 21 June 1948
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
Preceded by Himself (Viceroy of India)
Succeeded by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari
Viceroy of India

In office
12 February 1947 – 15 August 1947
Monarch George VI
Preceded by The Viscount Wavell
Succeeded by Himself (Governor General of India)
Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Governor General of Pakistan)
Personal details
Born Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Battenberg
(1900-06-25)June 25, 1900
Frogmore House, Windsor, Berkshire
Died 27 August 1979(1979-08-27) (aged 79)
Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Republic of Ireland
Spouse(s) Edwina Ashley
Children Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma
Lady Pamela Hicks
Alma mater Christ's College, Cambridge
Profession Admiral of the Fleet
Religion Anglicanism
Military service
Nickname(s) Dickie
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.png Royal Navy
Years of service 1913-1965
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands HMS Daring (1934)
HMS Wishart (1934-1936)
HMS Kelly (1939-1941)
HMS Illustrious (Aug.-Oct 1941)
Chief of Combined Operations (1941-1943)
Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command (1943-1946)
Commander, cruiser squadron, Mediterranean Fleet (1948-1950)
Fourth Sea Lord (1950-1952)
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet (1952-1954)
First Sea Lord (1955-1959)
Chief of the Defence Staff (1959-1965)
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight of the Garter
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of Merit
Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India
Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Distinguished Service Order

Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS (born Prince Louis of Battenberg; 25 June 1900 – 27 August 1979) – known informally as Lord Mountbatten – was a British statesman and naval officer, an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and second cousin once removed to Elizabeth II. During World War II, he was Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command (1943–46). He was the last Viceroy of India (1947) and the first Governor-General of the independent Dominion of India (1947–48), from which the modern Republic of India was to 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. Thereafter he served as Chief of the Defence Staff until 1965, making him the longest serving professional head of the British Armed Forces to date. During this period Mountbatten also served as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee for a year.

In 1979 Mountbatten, along with three other people, including a grandson Nicholas, was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), who planted a bomb in his fishing boat, the Shadow V, at Mullaghmore, County Sligo, in Ireland.

Early life

Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, Prince Louis of Battenberg and their four children Princess Alice of Battenberg, Louise, George and Louis.

From the time of his birth until 1917, when he and several other British royals dropped their German styles and titles, Lord Mountbatten was known as His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg. 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 Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse, and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, who was a daughter of Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort. 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 "Grand Ducal Highness", were not eligible to be titled Princes of Hesse and were given the less exalted 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.[1]

Young 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.[2]

Mountbatten was home-schooled for the first ten years of his life: he was then sent to Lockers Park School in Hertfordshire[3] and on to the Royal Naval College, Osborne in May 1913.[4] In childhood he visited the Imperial Court of Russia at St Petersburg and became intimate with the doomed Russian Imperial Family, harbouring romantic feelings towards Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, whose photograph he kept at his bedside for the rest of his life.[5]

In 1914, because of the growing anti-German sentiments that swept across Europe during the first few months of World War I, Prince Louis of Battenberg was removed from his position as First Sea Lord and publicly humiliated by King George V and First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill. Though both men professed 'sadness' at having to do this, private conversations and letters show them both perfectly happy to sacrifice their "blue-eyed German".[6]


Early career

Mountbatten was posted as midshipman to the battlecruiser HMS Lion in July 1916 and, after seeing action in August 1916, transferred to the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth during the closing phases of the First World War.[4] In June 1917, when the Royal Family stopped using their German names and titles and adopted the more British-sounding "Windsor": Prince Louis of Battenberg became Louis Mountbatten, and was created Marquess of Milford Haven. His second son acquired the courtesy title Lord Louis Mountbatten and was known as Lord Louis until he was created a peer in 1946.[7]

After his war service, and having been promoted sub-lieutenant on 15 January 1919, Mountbatten attended Christ's College, Cambridge for two terms where he studied engineering in a programme that was specially designed for ex-servicemen.[7] He was posted to the battlecruiser HMS Renown in March 1920 and accompanied Edward, Prince of Wales, on a royal tour of Australia in her.[7] Promoted lieutenant on 15 April 1920,[8] he transferred to the battlecruiser HMS Repulse in March 1921 and accompanied Edward on a Royal tour of India and Japan.[7] Edward and Mountbatten formed a close friendship during the trip.[7] He was posted to the battleship HMS Revenge in the Mediterranean Fleet in January 1923.[7]

Pursuing his interests in technological development and gadgetry, Mountbatten joined the Portsmouth Signals School in August 1924 and then went on briefly to study electronics at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.[7] Mountbatten became a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), now the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), which annually awards the Mountbatten Medal for an outstanding contribution, or contributions over a period, to the promotion of electronics or information technology and their application.[9] He was posted to the battleship HMS Centurion in the Reserve Fleet in 1926 and became Assistant Fleet Wireless and Signals Officer of the Mediterranean Fleet under the command of Admiral Sir Roger Keyes in January 1927.[7] Promoted lieutenant-commander on 15 April 1928,[10] he returned to the Signals School in July 1929 as Senior Wireless Instructor.[7] He was appointed Fleet Wireless Officer to the Mediterranean Fleet in August 1931, and having been promoted commander on 31 December 1932,[11] was posted to the battleship HMS Resolution[7]

In 1934, Mountbatten was appointed to his first command - the destroyer HMS Daring.[7] His ship was a new destroyer which he was to sail to Singapore and exchange for an older ship, HMS Wishart.[7] He successfully brought Wishart back to port in Malta and then attended the funeral of King George V in January 1936.[12] Mountbatten was appointed a Personal Naval Aide-de-Camp to King Edward VIII on 23 June 1936,[13] and, having joined the Naval Air Division of the Admiralty in July 1936,[14] he attended the coronation of King George VI in May 1937.[15] He was promoted Captain on 30 June 1937[16] and was then given command of the destroyer HMS Kelly in June 1939.[17]

In July 1939 Mountbatten was granted a patent (UK Number 508,956) for a system for maintaining a warship in a fixed position relative to another ship.[18]

Second World War

Lord Mountbatten and officers on HMS Kelvin 1940.

When war broke out in 1939, Mountbatten became commander of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla aboard his ship Kelly, which was famous for its many daring exploits.[14] In late 1939 he brought the Duke of Windsor back from exile in France and in early May 1940, Mountbatten led a British convoy in through the fog to evacuate the Allied forces participating in the Namsos Campaign during the Norwegian Campaign.[17] On the night 9 May/10 May 1940, Kelly was torpedoed amidships by a German E-boat S 31 off the Dutch coast and Mountbatten subsequently commanded the 5th Destroyer Flotilla from the destroyer HMS Javelin.[17] He rejoined Kelly in December 1940, by which time the torpedo damage had been repaired.[17] However Kelly was sunk by German dive bombers on 23 May 1941 during the Battle of Crete;[19] the incident serving as the basis for Noël Coward's film In Which We Serve.[20] Coward was a personal friend of Mountbatten, and copied some of his speeches into the film.[19] He was mentioned in despatches on 9 August 1940[21] and 21 March 1941[22] and awarded the Distinguished Service Order in January 1941.[23]

Mountbatten, General Walter Short, Admiral Husband Kimmel in Hawaii 1941

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Sir Winston Churchill, Baron Hastings Ismay, Mountbatten: January 1943 in Casablanca.

In August 1941, Mountbatten was appointed captain of the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious which lay in Norfolk, Virginia, for repairs following action at Malta in the Mediterranean in January.[19] During this period of relative inactivity he paid a flying visit to Pearl Harbor, where he was not impressed with the poor state of readiness.[19]

Mountbatten was a favourite of Winston Churchill, (although Churchill never spoke to him after 1948 since he was famously annoyed with Mountbatten's later role in the partition and independence of India and Pakistan), and on 27 October 1941 Mountbatten replaced Roger Keyes as Chief of Combined Operations and promoted commodore.[19] His duties in this role consisted of planning commando raids across the English Channel and inventing new technical aids to assist with opposed landings.[14] Mountbatten, who was promoted acting vice-admiral in March 1942, was in large part responsible for the planning and organisation of The Raid at St. Nazaire in mid-1942, an operation resulting in the 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 some among the Allied forces, notably Field Marshal Montgomery, later claimed was ill-conceived from the start). The raid on Dieppe was widely considered a disaster, with casualties (including those wounded or taken prisoner) numbering in the thousands, the great majority of them Canadians.[19] 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.[24] Noteworthy technical achievements of Mountbatten and his staff include the construction of "PLUTO", an underwater oil pipeline from the English coast to Normandy, an artificial harbour constructed of concrete caissons and sunken ships, and the development of amphibious tank-landing ships.[14] Another project that Mountbatten proposed to Churchill was Project Habakkuk. It was to be a massive and impregnable 600-metre aircraft carrier made from reinforced ice ("Pykrete"): Habakkuk was never carried out due to its enormous cost.[14]

Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander, seen during his tour of the Arakan Front in February 1944.

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.[25] Nevertheless, as a direct result of the failings of the Dieppe raid, the British made several innovations – most notably Hobart's Funnies – specialized armoured vehicles which, in the course of the Normandy Landings, undoubtedly saved many lives on those three beachheads upon which Commonwealth soldiers were landing (Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and Sword Beach).[26]

Mountbatten making an address on the steps of Municipal Building in Singapore, 1945.

As a result of the Dieppe raid, Mountbatten became a controversial figure in Canada,[24] with the Royal Canadian Legion distancing itself from him during his visits there during his later career; his relations with Canadian veterans "remained frosty".[27]

In August 1943, Churchill appointed Mountbatten the Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command (SEAC) with promoted acting full admiral.[19] 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 Rangoon, got as far as Churchill before being quashed.[28]

During his time as Supreme Allied Commander of the Southeast Asia Theatre, his command oversaw the recapture of Burma from the Japanese by General William Slim.[29] A personal high point was the reception of the Japanese surrender in Singapore 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.[30] South East Asia Command was disbanded in May 1946 and Mountbatten returned home with the substantive rank of rear-admiral.[31]

Last Viceroy and first Governor-General

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,[32] charged with overseeing the transition of British India to independence no later than 1948. Mountbatten's instructions emphasised a united India as a result of the transference of power but authorised him to adapt to a changing situation in order to get Britain out promptly with minimal reputational damage.[33] Soon after he arrived, Mountbatten concluded that the situation was too volatile for even that short a wait. Although his advisers favoured a gradual transfer of independence, Mountbatten decided the only way forward was a quick and orderly transfer of independence before 1947 was out. In his view, any longer would mean civil war.[34]

Lord and Lady Mountbatten at Mussoorie with Congress leader Sardar Patel, his daughter Manibehn Patel and Nehru in the background.

Mountbatten was fond of Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru and his liberal outlook for the country. He felt differently about the Muslim leader Muhammed Ali Jinnah, but was aware of his power, stating "If it could be said that any single man held the future of India in the palm of his hand in 1947, that man was Mohammad Ali Jinnah."[35] Mountbatten tried to persuade Jinnah of a united India, citing the difficult task of dividing the mixed states of Punjab and Bengal, but the Muslim leader was unyielding in his goal of establishing a separate Muslim state called Pakistan.[36]

Lord and Lady Mountbatten with Mahatma Gandhi, 1947

Given the British government's recommendations to grant independence quickly, Mountbatten concluded that a united India was an unachievable goal and resigned himself to a plan for partition, creating the independent nations of India and Pakistan.[14] Mountbatten set a date for the transfer of power from the British to the Indians, arguing that a fixed timeline would convince Indians of his and the British government's sincerity in working towards a swift and efficient independence, excluding all possibilities of stalling the process.[37]

Among the Indian leaders, Gandhi emphatically insisted on maintaining a united India and for a while successfully rallied people to this goal. However, when Mountbatten's timeline offered the prospect of attaining independence soon, sentiments took a different turn. Given Mountbatten's determination, Nehru and Patel's inability to deal with the Muslim League and lastly Jinnah's obstinacy, all Indian party leaders (except Gandhi) acquiesced to Jinnah's plan to divide India,[38] which in turn eased Mountbatten's task. Mountbatten also developed a strong relationship with the Indian princes, who ruled those portions of India not directly under British rule. His intervention was decisive in persuading the vast majority of them to see advantages in opting to join the Indian Union. Thus the integration of the princely states can be viewed as one of the positive aspects of his legacy.[39]

Lord Mountbatten with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru the first Prime Minister of sovereign India in Government House, Lady Mountbatten standing to their left.

When India and Pakistan attained independence at midnight on the night of 14–15 August 1947, Mountbatten remained in New Delhi for ten months, serving as India's first governor general until June 1948.[40]

Lord and Lady Mountbatten with Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Notwithstanding the self-promotion of 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 Freedom at Midnight (of which he was the main quoted source) — his record is seen as very mixed; one common view is that he hastened the independence process unduly and recklessly, foreseeing vast disruption and loss of life and not wanting this to occur on the British watch, but thereby actually helping it to occur, especially in Punjab and Bengal.[41] John Kenneth Galbraith, the Canadian-American Harvard University economist, who advised governments of India during the 1950s, an intimate of Nehru who served as the American ambassador from 1961 to 1963, was a particularly harsh critic of Mountbatten in this regard.[42]

Career after India and Pakistan

Mountbatten arrives on board HMS Glasgow at Malta to assume command of the Mediterranean Fleet, 16 May 1952

Lord Mountbatten inspects Malayan troops in Kensington Gardens in 1946

After India, Mountbatten served as commander of the 1st cruiser squadron in the Mediterranean Fleet and, having been granted the substantive rank of vice admiral on 22 June 1949,[43] he became Second-in-Command of the Mediterranean Fleet in April 1950.[40] He became Fourth Sea Lord at the Admiralty in June 1950 and attended the funeral of King George VI in February 1952.[44] He then returned to the Mediterranean to serve as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet from June 1952.[40] Promoted to the substantive rank of full admiral on 27 February 1953,[45] he attended the coronation of the Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953.[46] Mountbatten served his final posting at the Admiralty as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff from April 1955 to July 1959, 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 both attained such high rank.[47] He was promoted Admiral of the fleet on 22 October 1956.[48]

While serving as First Sea Lord, his primary concerns dealt with devising plans on how the Royal Navy would keep shipping lanes open if Britain fell victim to a nuclear attack. Today, this seems of minor importance but at the time few people comprehended the potentially limitless destruction nuclear weapons possess and the ongoing dangers posed by the fallout. Military commanders did not understand the physics involved in a nuclear explosion. This became 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.[49] As Mountbatten became more familiar with this new form of weaponry, he increasingly grew opposed to its use in combat yet at the same time he realised the potential nuclear energy had, especially with regards to submarines. Mountbatten expressed his feelings towards the use of nuclear weapons 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.[50] After leaving the Admiralty, Lord Mountbatten took the position of Chief of the Defence Staff.[40] 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.[51]

Mountbatten was Governor of the Isle of Wight from 20 July 1965[52] and then the first Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight from 1 April 1974.[53] From 1967 until 1978, Mountbatten became president of the United World Colleges Organisation, then represented by a single college: that of Atlantic College 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 Singapore in 1971, followed by the United World College of the Pacific (now known as the Lester B Pearson United World College of the Pacific) in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, in 1974. In 1978, Lord Mountbatten of Burma passed the Presidency to his great-nephew, the Prince of Wales.[54]

Long after the execution-style murders of the Russian Imperial Family, Mountbatten was called upon to authoritatively rebut impostors' claims to be the living Grand Duchess Anastasia, who had been his first cousin.

Alleged plots against Harold Wilson

Peter Wright, in his book Spycatcher, claimed that in 1967 Mountbatten attended a private meeting with press baron and MI5 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.[55]

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 revolved around right-wing former military figures who were supposedly building private armies to counter the perceived threat from trade unions and the Soviet Union. 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 was planned to overthrow Wilson and replace him with Mountbatten using the private armies and sympathisers in the military and MI5.[56]

The first official history of MI5, The 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 on 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."[57]

Personal life


Louis and Edwina Mountbatten

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.[7] There followed a glamorous honeymoon tour of European courts and America which included a visit to Niagara Falls (because "all honeymooners went there").[2]

Mountbatten admitted "Edwina and I spent all our married lives getting into other people's beds."[58] The biography of Labour MP Tom Driberg, written by Francis Wheen, claims that — like Driberg — Mountbatten had "a sexual preference for men".[59]

Edwina and India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru became intimate friends after Indian Independence. During the summers, she would frequent the prime minister'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."[60]

Daughter as heir

Lord and Lady Mountbatten had two daughters: Lady Patricia Mountbatten, Countess Mountbatten of Burma (born 14 February 1924), sometime lady-in-waiting to the Queen, and Lady Pamela Carmen Louise (Hicks) (born 19 April 1929), who accompanied them to India in 1947-48 and was also sometime lady-in-waiting to the Queen.[1]

Since Mountbatten had no sons, when he was created Viscount Mountbatten of Burma of Romsey in the County of Southampton on 27 August 1946[61] and then Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Baron Romsey in the County of Southampton on 28 October 1947,[62] the Letters Patent were drafted such that in the event he left no sons or issue in the male line, the titles could pass to his daughters, in order of seniority of birth, and to their heirs male respectively.[63]

Leisure interests

Like many members of the royal family, Mountbatten was an aficionado of polo. He received U.S. patent 1,993,334 in 1931 for a polo stick.[64] Mountbatten introduced the sport to the Royal Navy in the 1920s, and wrote a book on the subject.[2] Mountbatten served as Commodore of Emsworth Sailing Club in Hampshire from 1931.[65]

Mentorship of Prince of Wales

Lord Mountbatten in 1976, by Allan Warren

Mountbatten was a strong influence in the upbringing of his grand-nephew, Prince Charles, 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, 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.[66]

Mountbatten's qualification for offering advice to this particular heir to the throne was unique; it was he who had arranged the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Dartmouth Royal Naval College 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.[67] But a few months later, Mountbatten's efforts nearly came to naught when he received a letter from his sister Alice in Athens 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 Greece, to resume his naval career in Britain which, though given without explanation, the young prince obeyed.[68]

In 1974 Mountbatten began corresponding with Charles about a potential marriage to his granddaughter, Hon. Amanda Knatchbull.[69] It was about this time he also recommended that the 25-year-old prince get on with sowing some wild oats.[69] 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.[70]

Four years later Mountbatten secured an invitation for himself and Amanda to accompany Charles on his planned 1980 tour of India.[70] 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.[70]

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 changed, and she refused him.[70]

Television appearances

In 1969 Earl Mountbatten participated in a 12-part autobiographical television series Lord Mountbatten: A Man for the Century, also known as The Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten, produced by Associated-Rediffusion and scripted by historian John Terraine.[71][72] The episodes were:[73]

1. The King's Ships Were at Sea (1900–1917)
2. The Kings Depart (1917–1922)
3. Azure Main (1922–1936)
4. The Stormy Winds (1936–1941)

5. United We Conquer (1941–1943)
6. The Imperial Enemy
7. The March to Victory
8. The Meaning of Victory (1945–1947)

9. The Last Viceroy
10. Fresh Fields (1947–1955)
11. Full Circle (1955–1965)
12. A Man of This Century (1900–1968)

On 27 April 1977, shortly before his 77th birthday, Mountbatten became the first member of the Royal Family to appear on the TV guest show This Is Your Life.[74]


Christ in Triumph over Darkness and Evil by Gabriel Loire (1982) at St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town, South Africa, in memory of Lord Mountbatten.

Mountbatten usually holidayed at his summer home, Classiebawn Castle, in Mullaghmore, County Sligo, a small seaside village between Bundoran, County Donegal, and Sligo town on the northwest coast of Ireland. The village was only 12 miles away from the border with Northern Ireland and near an area known to be used as a cross-border refuge by IRA members.[75][76]

Despite security advice and warnings from the Garda Síochána, on 27 August 1979 Mountbatten went lobster-potting and tuna fishing in a thirty-foot (10 m) wooden boat, the Shadow V, which had been moored in the harbour at Mullaghmore. IRA member Thomas McMahon had slipped onto the unguarded boat that night and attached a radio-controlled fifty-pound (23 kg) bomb. When Mountbatten was aboard en route to Donegal Bay, just a few hundred yards from the shore, the bomb was detonated.

The boat was destroyed by the force of the blast. Mountbatten, then aged 79, was pulled alive from the water by nearby fishermen, but died from his injuries before being brought to the shore.[76][77][78] Others killed by the blast were Nicholas Knatchbull, his elder daughter's 14-year-old son; and Paul Maxwell, a 15-year-old from County Fermanagh who was a crew member.[79] The Dowager Lady Brabourne, his elder daughter's 83-year-old mother-in-law, was seriously injured in the explosion and died from her injuries the following day.[80] Nicholas Knatchbull's mother and father, along with his twin brother Timothy, survived the explosion but were seriously injured.[81]

The IRA issued a statement afterward, saying:

The IRA claimed responsibility for the death of Lord Louis Mountbatten. This operation is one of the discriminate ways we can bring to the attention of the English people the continuing occupation of our country.[75]

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.[82]

On the day of the bombing, the IRA also ambushed and killed eighteen British Army soldiers, sixteen of them from the Parachute Regiment at Warrenpoint, County Down, in what became known as the Warrenpoint ambush.[76] Thomas McMahon, who had been arrested two hours before the bomb detonated at a Garda checkpoint between Longford and Granard on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle, was tried for the assassinations in the Republic of Ireland, and convicted by forensic evidence supplied by Dr. James O'Donovan that showed flecks of paint from the boat and traces of nitroglycerine on his clothes.[83]


Mountbatten's tomb at Romsey Abbey

On 5 September 1979 Lord Mountbatten received a Ceremonial Funeral at Westminster Abbey, which was attended by the Queen, the Royal Family and members of the European royal houses. Watched by thousands of people, the funeral procession, which started at Wellington Barracks, included representatives of all three British Armed Services, and military contingents from Burma, India, the United States, France and Canada. His coffin was drawn on a gun carriage by 118 Royal Navy ratings. During the televised service, the Prince of Wales read the lesson from Psalm 107.[84] In an address, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan, highlighted his various achievements and his "lifelong devotion to the Royal Navy".[85] After the public ceremonies, which he had planned himself, Mountbatten was buried in Romsey Abbey.[86]

The President of Ireland, Patrick Hillery, and the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, attended a memorial service for Mountbatten in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin on 5 September 1979.


On 23 November 1979 Thomas McMahon was convicted of murder based on forensic evidence collected by Dr James O'Donovan, for his part in the bombing. He was released in 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.[76][87]

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. The 11-minute work was given its first performance on 5 May 1980 by the Scottish Baroque Ensemble, conducted by Leonard Friedman.[88]

Mountbatten took pride in enhancing intercultural understanding and in 1984, with his elder 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.[89]


Order of the Garter UK ribbon.png Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (KG) 1946[90]
Order of the Bath UK ribbon.png Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (GCB) 1955
Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (KCB) 1945[91]
Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) 1943
Galó de l'Orde del Mèrit (UK).png Member of the Order of Merit (Military Division) (OM) 1965[92]
Ord.Stella.India.jpg Knight Grand Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India (GCSI) 1947
Order of the Indian Empire ribbon.png Knight Grand Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire (GCIE) 1947
Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) 1937[93]
Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) 1922[94]
Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) 1920[95]
Dso-ribbon.png Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) 1941[23]
Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png Knight of Justice of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (KStJ) 1940[96]
Commander of Justice of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (CStJ) 1929[97]
British War Medal BAR.svg British War Medal
Victory Medal ribbon bar.svg Victory Medal
39-45 Star BAR.svg 1939–45 Star
Atlantic Star BAR.svg Atlantic Star
Africa Star BAR.svg Africa Star
Burma Star BAR.svg Burma Star
Italy Star BAR.svg Italy Star
Defence Medal BAR.svg Defence Medal
War Medal 39-45 BAR.svg War Medal 1939–1945
Naval General Service Medal 1915 BAR.svg Naval General Service Medal
Edward VII Coronation Medal ribbon.png King Edward VII Coronation Medal 1902
King George V Coronation Medal ribbon.png King George V Coronation Medal 1911
GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png King George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935
GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png King George VI Coronation Medal 1937
UK Queen EII Coronation Medal ribbon.svg Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1952
Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal 1977
Indian Independence Medal 1947.png Indian Independence Medal 1949
ESP Isabella Catholic Order GC.svg Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg (Kingdom of Spain) - 1922[98]
EGY Order of the Nile - Officer BAR.png Order of the Nile, Fourth Class Flag of Egypt (1922–1958).svg (Kingdom of Egypt) - 1922[98]
Ro1ocr.gif Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown Flag of Romania.svg (Romania) - 1924[98]
Star of Romania Ribbon.PNG Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania Flag of Romania.svg (Romania) - 1937[98]
Greek War Cross 1940 3rd class ribbon.png War Cross Kingdom of Greece Flag.svg (Kingdom of Greece) - 1941[99]
US Legion of Merit Chief Commander ribbon.png Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit US flag 48 stars.svg (United States of America) - 1943[100]
Order of the Cloud and Banner 1st.gif Special Grand Cordon of the Order of the Cloud and Banner Flag of the Republic of China.svg (Republic of China) - 1945[101]
Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Distinguished Service Medal US flag 48 stars.svg (United States of America) - 1945[102]
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal Flag of the United States (Pantone).svg (United States of America) - 1945
Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour Flag of France.svg (France) - 1946[103]
Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 ribbon.svg 1939–1945 War Cross Flag of France.svg (France) - 1946
Most Refulgent Order of the Star of Nepal.PNG Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of Nepal Flag of Nepal.svg (Kingdom of Nepal) - 1946[103]
Order of the White Elephant - 1st Class (Thailand) ribbon.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the White Elephant Flag of Thailand.svg (Kingdom of Thailand) - 1946[103]
GRE Order of George I - Member or Silver Cross BAR.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of George I Kingdom of Greece Flag.svg (Kingdom of Greece) - 1946[104]
Ord.Neth.Lion.jpg Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion Flag of the Netherlands.svg (Kingdom of the Netherlands) - 1948[105]
PRT Military Order of Aviz - Grand Cross BAR.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Aviz Flag of Portugal.svg (Portuguese Republic) - 1951[98]
Seraphimerorden ribbon.svg Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim Flag of Sweden.svg (Kingdom of Sweden) - 1952[106][107]
Grand Commander of the Order of Thiri Thudhamma Flag of Burma (1948-1974).svg (Union of Burma) - 1956[100]
DNK Order of Danebrog Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Commander of the Order of the Dannebrog Flag of Denmark.svg (Kingdom of Denmark) - 1962[98]
ETH Order of Solomon BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of the Seal of Solomon Flag of Ethiopia (1897-1936; 1941-1974).svg (Ethiopian Empire) - 1965[98]


Arms of L
Coat of Arms of Louis Mountbatten, Earl of Burma.svg
The arms of the Earl Mountbatten of Burma consist of:
Crests of Hesse modified and Battenberg.
Helms of Hesse modified and Battenberg.
Within the Garter, Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Hesse with a bordure compony argent and gules; 2nd and 3rd, Battenberg; charged at the honour point with an inescutcheon of the British Royal arms with a label of three points argent, the centre point charged with a rose gules and each of the others with an ermine spot sable (Princess Alice, his grandmother).[108]
Two Lions queue fourchée and crowned all or.
In honour bound
The Order of the Garter ribbon.
Honi soit qui mal y pense
(Shame be to him who thinks evil of it)

Titles and Styles

  • 1900 - 14 July 1917: His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg
  • 14 July - 7 November 1917: Mr. Louis Mountbatten
  • 7 November 1917 – 27 August 1946: Lord Louis Mountbatten
  • 27 August 1946 – 28 October 1947: The Right Honourable The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma
  • 12 February - 15 August 1947: His Excellency The Right Honourable The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma, Viceroy and Governor-General of India
  • 15 August - 28 October 1947: His Excellency The Right Honourable The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma, Governor-General of India
  • 28 October 1947 – 21 June 1948: His Excellency The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Governor-General of India
  • 21 June 1948 – 27 August 1979: The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma


See also

  • Mountbatten internship programme


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  5. King and Wilson, p. 49
  6. Von Tunzelman, p. 44-45
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 Heathcote, p. 184
  8. "No. 32461". 20 September 1921. 
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  10. "No. 33378". 24 April 1928. 
  11. "No. 33899". 3 January 1933. 
  12. "No. 34279". 29 April 1936. 
  13. "No. 34296". 19 June 1936. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Zuckerman, p. 354–366
  15. "No. 34453". 10 November 1937. 
  16. "No. 34414". 2 July 1937. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Heathcote, p. 185
  18. "Abstract of GB508956 508,956. Speed governors". Wiki Patents. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 Heathcote, p. 186
  20. Robert Niemi. History in the Media: Film And Television. p. 70. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  21. "No. 34918". 9 August 1940. 
  22. "No. 35113". 18 March 1941. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 "No. 35029". 31 December 1940.  DSO
  24. 24.0 24.1 Villa, p. 240–241
  25. Thompson, p. 263–9
  26. "In pictures: D-Day inventions: The Flail". BBC News. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  27. "Who Was Responsible For Dieppe?". CBC Archives. 9 September 1962. Retrieved 1 August 2007. 
  28. "Obituary: Lt-Col James Allason". The Telegraph. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  29. Heathcote, p. 187
  30. Park, p. 2156, para 360
  31. Heathcote, p. 188
  32. "No. 37916". 25 March 1947. 
  33. Ziegler, p. 359
  34. White, Matthew (2012). The Great Big Book of Horrible Things. W. W. Norton. p. 428. ISBN 9780393081923. 
  35. Sardesai, p. 309-313.
  36. 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
  37. Ziegler, p. 355
  38. Ziegler, p. 373
  39. Guha, p. 57
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 Heathcote, p. 189
  41. See, e.g., Wolpert, Stanley (2006). Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India.
  42. "People: Scots of Windsor's Past". Windsor's Scottish Heritage. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  43. "No. 38681". 2 August 1949. 
  44. "No. 39575". 17 June 1952. 
  45. "No. 39802". 17 March 1953. 
  46. "No. 40020". 17 November 1953. 
  47. 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 May 2009.
  48. "No. 40927". 16 November 1956. 
  49. Zuckerman, 363.
  50. Mountbatten, Louis, "A Military Commander Surveys The Nuclear Arms Race", International Security, Vol. 4 No. 3 Winter 1979-1980, MIT Press. pp. 3-5
  51. Heathcote, p. 190
  52. "No. 43720". 23 July 1965. 
  53. "No. 46255". 4 April 1974. 
  54. "History". UWC. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  55. "House of Commons proceedings Column 287". Hansard. 10 January 1996. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  56. Wheeler, Brian (9 March 2006). "Wilson 'plot': The secret tapes". BBC News. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  57. Leigh, David (10 October 2009). "The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  58. Zeigler, p. 53
  59. Wheen, p. 211
  60. Bailey, Katherine, "India's Last Vicereine", British Heritage, Vol. 21, Issue 3, Apr/May 2000, p. 16
  61. "No. 37702". 27 August 1946. 
  62. "No. 38109". 28 October 1947. 
  63. "No. 44059". 21 July 1966. 
  64. "Polo Stick: United States Patent 1993334". Free Patents On Line. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  65. "Emsworth to Langstone". Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  66. Junor, p. 72
  67. Edwards, Phil (31 October 2000). "The Real Prince Philip" (TV documentary). Real Lives: channel 4's portrait gallery. Channel 4. Retrieved 12 May 2007. 
  68. Vickers, p. 281
  69. 69.0 69.1 Dimbleby, p. 204–206
  70. 70.0 70.1 70.2 70.3 Dimbleby, p. 263–265
  71. "Lord Mountbatten: A Man for the Century". Main page. IMDB. 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  72. "Lord Mountbatten: A Man for the Century". Full cast and crew. IMDB. 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  73. "Lord Mountbatten: A Man for the Century". Episode list. IMDB. 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  74. "This Is Your Life (1969 - 1993)". EOFF TV. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
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  77. "IRA bombs kill Mountbatten and 17 soldiers". The Guardian. 28 August 1979. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  78. O'Brien, p. 55
  79. The Telegraph: Queen Mother may get blue plaque tribute
  80. Patton, Allyson, "Broadlands: Lord Mountbatten's Country Home", British Heritage March 2005, Vol. 26 Issue 1, pp. 14-17.
  81. "Tim Knatchbull: the IRA killed my grandfather, but I’m glad the Queen met their man". The Telegraph. 1 July 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  82. Louisa Wright (19 November 1979). "It is "Clearly a War Situation"". Time magazine.,9171,948791-1,00.html. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  83. "Killer of Lord Mountbatten enjoys freedom, 30 years on from IRA murder". The Telegraph. 9 August 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  84. Imperial War Museum - The Funeral of Lord Mountbatten
  85. BBC _ On This Day - 5 September 1979: Mountbatten buried after final parade
  86. Hugo, Vickers (November 1989). "The Man Who Was Never Wrong". p. 42. 
  87. Maloney, p. 176
  88. "Obituary: Malcolm Williamson". 4 March 2003. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  89. "Mountbatten Institute". Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  90. "No. 37807". 3 December 1946.  KG
  91. "No. 37023". 6 April 1945.  KCB
  92. "No. 43713". 16 July 1965.  OM
  93. "No. 34365". 29 January 1937.  GCVO
  94. "No. 32730". 18 July 1922.  KCVO
  95. "No. 32086". 15 October 1920.  MVO
  96. "No. 34878". 21 June 1940.  KJStJ
  97. "No. 33453". 1 January 1929.  CStJ
  98. 98.0 98.1 98.2 98.3 98.4 98.5 98.6 Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage. Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey: Kelly's Directories LTD.. 1976. p. 882. 
  99. "No. 35538". 24 April 1942.  Military Cross (Second Class) (Greece)
  100. 100.0 100.1 Ziegler, Philip (1989). From Shore to Shore: The Tour Diaries of Earl Mountbatten of Burma 1953-1979. HarperCollins. pp. 18, 254. ISBN 9780002176064. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  101. "No. 37023". 6 April 1945.  Order of the Cloud and Banner (China)
  102. "No. 37299". 5 October 1945.  DSM (US)
  103. 103.0 103.1 103.2 Assocaited Press (17 July 1965). "Draped With Honors Mountbatten Steps Down as Defense Chief".,2454145. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  104. "No. 37777". 1 November 1946.  Order of George I (Greece)
  105. "No. 38176". 13 January 1948.  Order of the Netherlands Lion
  106. Nordenvall, Per (1998) (in Swedish). Kungl. Serafimerorden 1748 - 1998 [The Royal Order of the Seraphim 1748 - 1998]. Stockholm: Kungl. Maj:ts orden. ISBN 91-630-6744-7. 
  107. "Mountbatten's coat of arms as a Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim". Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  108. Lee, p. 15, 135 & 136


Further reading

  • Hough, Richard (1980). Mountbatten: Hero of our time. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 978-0297778059. 
  • Knatchbull, Timothy (2010). From a Clear Blue Sky. Arrow. ISBN 978-0099543589. 
  • Leigh, David (1988). The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 1945–1976. William Heinemann. ISBN 978-0434413409. 
  • Murfett, Malcolm (1995). The First Sea Lords from Fisher to Mountbatten. Westport. ISBN 0-275-94231-7. 
  • Roberts, Andrew (2004). Eminent Churchillians. Phoenix Press. ISBN 978-1857992137. 
  • Smith, Adrian (2010). Mountbatten: Apprentice War Lord 1900-1943. I B Tauris & Co Ltd. ISBN 978-1848853744. 
  • Terraine, John (1968). The Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten. Hutchinson. ISBN 978-0090888108. 

External links

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Viscount Mountbatten of Burma

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