The 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma, CBE, MSC, CD, Patricia Mountbatten has passed away, aged 93.
She has been described as a rock for the British royal family, a fierce and powerful lady, and something of a British institution. However, her family also had a long association with India, the end of the Raj and the burgeoning of the new India. Patricia’s father, Lord Louis Mountbatten KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS was Viceroy of India and oversaw the difficult period resulting in the Partition of India in 1947.
The Mountbattens spent many years in India and met many of the great figures of Indian history including Mahatma Gandhi, a man described by her sister, Lady Pamela as ‘having a sparkle in his eye’, and the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Even after the Mountbattens had left India it was never far from their hearts.
Patricia enjoyed a long and intriguing marriage to John Knatchbull, the seventh Baron Brabourne, whose own family had a long association with India. After their wedding, they spent several months living with her family in Delhi in the Viceregal Lodge.
As a movie producer, he worked on films that included the 1984 film A Passage to India which was nominated for 11 Oscars. The film was close to Mountbatten family history using the backdrop of the end for British colonial India to tell the story of the troubled relationships between an Indian doctor, an Englishwoman engaged to marry a city magistrate, and an English educator.
The marriage was successful but hit by tragedy in 1979. The couple were among a seven-strong boat party blown up by the IRA in County Sligo, Republic of Ireland. Patricia’s father and oldest son, Nicholas were killed and both her and her husband were seriously injured. Patricia was pulled from the water and needed 120 stitches to her face alone. With a true British stiff upper lip and a dry sense of humour she was later to refer to this as her ‘IRA facelift.’ As the news of the attack became widespread India was the first country to lower its flag in remembrance.
She was godmother to Charles, Prince of Wales and he paid tribute to her in a heart-felt tribute, stating: “I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of my very special godmother, Lady Mountbatten, whom I have known and loved ever since I can first remember.
“She played an extremely important part in my life and I shall miss her presence most dreadfully.”
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “The Queen and the Duke are aware and have privately passed on their condolences.”