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. The Mountbattens met many of the great figures of recent 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.
Patricia enjoyed a long and intriguing marriage to John Knatchbull, the seventh Baron Brabourne, who as a film producer, worked on projects that included A Passage to India. The film was close to Mountbatten family history as it used 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 the family was 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 was pulled from the water and needed 120 stitches to her face alone. Famed for her stiff upper lip and British reserve she was later to refer to this as her ‘IRA facelift.’
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 (of Edinburgh) are aware and have privately passed on their condolences.”