This short biography of Earl Mountbatten of Burma concentrates on the heraldic, genealogical and related aspects of his life.
Earl Mountbatten of Burma was born H.S.H. Prince Louis Francis of Battenberg on June 25th, 1900, the younger son of Prince Louis of Battenberg and his wife Princess Victoria of Hesse. His mother was a daughter of Queen Victoria’s second daughter Princess Alice who had married the Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse. The Battenberg family was descended from Grand Duke Louis II of Hesse through a morganatic marriage. This is reflected in Lord Mountbatten’s arms.
Prince Louis Francis entered the Royal Navy in 1913 and saw active service in the Great War.
In 1917, during the Great War, King George V changed the name of the Royal House to Windsor. At the same time, he asked those of his relatives who were British but known by German names and titles to relinquish use of them. As the head of the House of Battenberg, Lord Mounbatten’s father adopted the surname of Mountbatten and was raised to the peerage as Marquess of Milford Haven, Earl of Medina and Viscount Alderney. Since he was now the younger son of a marquess, the Prince Louis Francis of Battenberg was accordingly known as Lord Louis Mountbatten.
In the inter-war period, Lord Louis pursued his naval career with a variety of postings and specialising in communications. He also accompanied the Prince of Wales (second cousin) on two tours – to Australasia in 1920 and to the East in 1921–1922. In 1922, Lord Louis married the Hon. Edwina Cynthia Annette Ashley at St. Margaret’s, Westminster. The Prince of Wales was his best man.
Prior to the Coronation of King George VI in 1937, Lord Louis was appointed a G.C.V.O. and indeed wore the mantle at the Coronation service. In the same year, he was promoted to Captain. When war broke out in 1939, he commanded the 5th Destroyer Flotilla from H.M.S. Kelly and saw service in the North Sea, the Western Approaches and the Mediterranean being appointed D.S.O. in 1941. The sinking of the Kelly in the same year during the Battle of Crete was to feature in the film In Which We Serve in which Lord Louis was played by Noel Coward. For a short period afterwards, he was in command of H.M.S. Illustrious, an aircraft carrier.
Lord Louis was appointed Commodore in 1941 and later held the post of Chief of Combined Operations when he investigated strategies for the eventual liberation of Europe. In 1943, however, his career took a major change of direction when he was appointed Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command with the rank of acting Admiral. This culminated with Japanese forces being driven out of Burma and the surrender of Japanese forces in Malaya in 1945.
After the end of the World War, Lord Louis was appointed a K.G. and ennobled as Viscount Mountbatten of Burma in 1946. In the following year he was appointed a Privy Councillor and was advanced in the peerage to Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Baron Romsey. He was also appointed to a number of foreign orders at this time.
It was in 1947 that Lord Mountbatten was appointed Viceroy of India and, as such, became the Grand Master of the two Indian orders – the Star of India and the Indian Empire. This included automatic appointment to the the highest ranks of these two orders, G.C.S.I. and G.C.I.E. respectively. He had become a K.St.J. in 1943. After the partition of India, Lord Mountbatten remained as Governor-General until 1948.
As a serving officer in the armed forces, Lord Mounbatten progressed through the Order of the Bath. He was appointed to the order in 1943 as a C.B. He was advanced to K.C.B. in 1945 and finally to G.C.B. in 1955 when he became the First Sea Lord. In the following year, he was promoted from Admiral to Admiral of the Fleet, the highest rank in the Royal Navy. Following his retirement as Chief of Defence Staff in 1965, he was appointed O.M.
Lord Mountbatten was also Governor (later Lord Lieutenant) of the Isle of Wight, Colonel of the Life Guards and Colonel Commandant of the Royal Marines.
Lord Mountbatten’s connection with Cambridge much predated his being President of C.U.S.G. and later being Patron of C.U.H.&G.S. He matriculated at Christ’s College in 1919 and was both admitted to the degree of LL.D. honoris causa and elected an Honorary Fellow of his college in 1946.
A newsgroup about Lord Mountbatten exists.
Shield – Quarterly: first and fourth, azure, a lion rampant double queued barry of ten argent and gules, armed and langued of the last, crowned or, within a bordure compony of the second and third; second and third, argent, two pallets sable charged on the honour point with an escutcheon of the arms of the late Princess Alice (namely, the Royal Arms differenced with a label of three points argent, the centre point charged with a rose gules barbed vert, and each of the other points with an ermine spot sable).
Crests – First, out of a coronet or, two horns barry of ten, argent and gules, issuing from each three linden leaves vert, and from the outer side of each horn four branches barwise, having three like leaves pendant therefrom of the last (Hesse); second, out of a coronet or, a plume of four ostrich feathers alternately argent and sable (Battenberg).
Supporters – On either side a lion double queued and crowned all or.
Motto – In Honour Bound
In 1946, the then Lord Louis Mountbatten was created:
in the peerage of the United Kingdom with remainder to heirs male of his body, and in default of such issue to his elder daughter, Patricia Edwina Victoria, and the heirs male of her body; and in default of such issue to every other daughter successively in order of seniority of age and priority of birth, and to the heirs male of their bodies.
In the following year, 1947, Viscount Mountbatten of Burma was advanced in the peerage of the United Kingdom to:
with similar special remainders.
At his death, he was succeeded in all his peerage titles by his elder daughter, Lady Brabourne. As the eldest son of the Countess Mountbatten of Burma, the Hon. Norton Knatchbull became known by the courtesy title of Lord Romsey.
Lord Mountbatten was a member of five of the United Kingdom’s nine (national) orders of chivalry.
The senior order of chivalry in the United Kingdom. One rank only.
Membership of this order is normally awarded to high-ranking military and civil servants of the Crown. It is split into two divisions, military and civil, each having three ranks.
The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India (1861)
In 1947, Lord Mountbatten was appointed Viceroy of India. The Viceroy was Grand Master of this order ex officio_ and, simultaneously, appointed to the rank of Knight Grand Commander within it. The two lower ranks are Commander (C.S.I.) and Knight Commander (K.C.S.I.)._
The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire (1868)
In 1947, Lord Mountbatten was appointed Viceroy of India. The Viceroy was Grand Master of this order ex officio_ and, simultaneously, appointed to the rank of Knight Grand Commander within it. The two lower ranks are Commander (C.I.E.) and Knight Commander (K.C.I.E.)._
An order created by Queen Victoria to reward those rendering personal service to the Sovereign and the Royal Family. It has five ranks: Member (fomerly Member (fifth class)), Lieutenant (formerly Member (fourth class)), Commander, Knight Commander and Knight Grand Cross.
Strictly speaking (and though very different to each other), neither of the following is an order of chivalry; however, membership of each is highly prized.
Created by King Edward VII and restricted to 24 members but confers no precedence. Divided into military and civil divisions but with one rank only.
The Distinguished Service Order (1886)
Instituted by Queen Victoria and awarded to members of the armed forces (also Mercantile Marine), this has aspects of both an order of chivalry (but with only one rank) and a military decoration (bars can be awarded).
Although not a national order of chivalry, the Order of St. John enjoys a well-established semi-official status and, indeed, H.M. the Queen is its Sovereign Head.
For completeness, the four other British orders of chivalry are:–
1965 – Retired