Edwina, Countess Mountbatten

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Today marks the 60th Anniversary of the death of Edwina, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, who died on this day in 1960! The elder daughter of Wilfred William Ashley, 1st Baron Mount Temple (of the 1932 creation) and a descendent of the Earls of Shaftesbury, and Amalia Mary Maud Cassel, daughter of financier Sir Ernest Cassel. After her father’s remarriage in 1914, Edwina was sent away to boarding schools, to the Links in Eastbourne and then to Alde House in Suffolk, but was not a willing pupil, and eventually her grandfather, Sir Ernest, invited her to act as his hostess at Brook House in London, leaving her his massive fortune of £2 million (£53.6 million today) in 1921. In 1922, she married Lord Louis Mountbatten, a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, and the couple had two daughters, Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten and Lady Pamela Hicks. Lord Louis was a naval officer, and Lady Louis was a prominent society hostess, embarking on a series of affairs and travelling the world during the interwar era. During the Second World War, she became heavily involved in the war effort, becoming the Superintendent-in-Chief of the St John Ambulance Brigade and assisting in the repatriation of prisoners of war in South East Asia, being awarded a CBE in 1943 and being made a Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1946, also receiving the American Red Cross Medal, around which time Lord Louis was made Viscount Mountbatten for his service in the war. In 1947, Lord Mountbatten was appointed the last Viceroy of India, responsible for the handover of power and the Partition of India and Pakistan. Lady Mountbatten embarked on an affair with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and also mobilised the enormous relief efforts for the millions of people displaced from their homes. She continued to work for the St John Ambulance Brigade following their return to Britain in 1950, after being made the Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma in 1947, and attended a variety of royal events as the aunt-in-law of the Queen. Lady Mountbatten passed away in her sleep of unknown causes in Kota Kinabalu, British North Borneo while on an inspection tour for the St John Ambulance Brigade. Earl Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA in 1979.

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