The Mountbattens are an illustrious family that have close links with the British Royal Family. The first Lord Mountbatten was not only the uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh, but also the brother of Queen Louise of Sweden and a nephew of the last Empress of Russia. His wife was a famous figure who was a society figure during the 1920s and 30s, but is remembered for her relief-work during WWII and later as the Vicereine of India during Independence and Partition. Today, we are taking a look at the Mountbatten/Hicks Tiara worn by their younger daughter-
The first Lord, Louis, was born Prince Louis of Battenberg in 1900, and was a great grandson of Queen Victoria. He became Lord Louis Mountbatten, after the family renounced their german titles during WWI. He married Edwina Ashley in 1922, and later became the last Viceroy of India and First Sea Lord. He was made first Viscount and later Earl Mountbatten during the 1940s. Lord & Lady Mountbatten had two daughters, Lady Patricia and Lady Pamela. This antique pearl and diamond tiara first appeared on the head of the infamous Edwina, Countess of Mountbatten. She wore it at the Dominion Day dinner at the Canadian Women’s Club in London, in February 1950. It was probably a new acquisition (it hadn’t been seen previously) bought as a replacement for the Pearl and Diamond Star Tiara given as a wedding gift to Lady Patricia in 1946. Lady Mountbatten also wore it at a gala performance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London on the eve of the Coronation of Queen Elisabeth II, and at a Banquet given for her sister- and brother-in-law, the King and Queen of Sweden, in 1955.
In 1953, Lady Mountbatten loaned her Pearl and Diamond Tiara to her younger daughter, Lady Pamela, for the Queen’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey. Lady Pamela is a fascinating figure. She accompanied her parents to India, and published her experiences in India Remembered: A Personal Account of the Mountbattens During the Transfer of Power. She was appointed as a Lady-in-waiting to her cousin-in-law, Princess Elisabeth, in 1952 for a royal tour. While in Kenya, the Royal party received news that the Princess’s father, King George VI, had died in London, and that the Princess was now Queen Elisabeth II. Lady Pamela recounts how when embracing the Princess, she realized that she was now Queen, and curtsied to her new sovereign.
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Lady Pamela later accompanied the Queen on the Post-Coronation Commonwealth Tour of 1953-4. The tour spanned six months and covered 44,000 miles. Lady Pamela accompanied the Queen and Duke on official engagements, notably wearing the Pearl and Diamond Tiara as she attended the State Openings of Parliament in New Zealand, Australia, and Ceylon. She found the experience tiring, especially “donning evening dress and tiara at 10 in the morning.”
India asked what a lady-in-waiting would do if she did not have a tiara to wear to official events. “You borrow from your family.” And if your family don’t have a tiara? Well, they wouldn’t be in the business of supplying ladies-in-waiting. “That kind of family are not,” said Lady Pamela, firmly
Lady Pamela borrowed the Tiara for her wedding in 1960 to interior designer David Hicks. When, Edwina, Lady Mountbatten died during their honeymoon, Lady Pamela inherited this tiara as well as the more famous Mountbatten Tiara. David and Lady Pamela Hicks lived a very interesting life during the 1960s and 70s. David was known for his spectacular gardens and furnishings as one of the world’s leading interior designers.
In 1984, Edwina Hicks, the eldest of the three Hicks children, wore the Tiara at her wedding. The youngest daughter, India Hicks, was a bridesmaid at the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer as as godchild of the Prince. When Lady Pamela sold the Mountbatten Tiara and other jewels in 2002, this tiara was not among the lots on the sale at Sotheby’s, and has not been seen at other auctions, leading me to assume it is still with Lady Pamela. It may be worn by Lady Pamela’s daughters or daughter-in-law at an upcoming Gala event, though we might have to wait to see it on Lady Pamela’s granddaughters at their weddings.
For more Information, check out the autobiography of Lady Pamela: