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1917-1921: The Death of Mountbatten's Father

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Mountbatten's father - 

Prince Louis of Battenberg,

later 1st Marquess of Milford Haven 



Mountbatten in 1920 with his cousin -

Prince Edward 'David', The Prince of Wales

whilst on the Prince's Empire Tour

of Australia, New Zealand, India,

Japan & the Far East


Mountbatten with his cousin -

Prince Edward 'David', The Prince of Wales

(later King Edward VIII) in 1921

at a polo gymkhana in Malta


Mountbatten with his cousin -

Prince Edward 'David', The Prince of Wales

(later King Edward VIII)

The Battenberg family were one of the many 'victims' of the Royal Proclamation of 17th July 1917, when King George V (1865(1910-1936) in response to anti-German attacks against the dynastic German Royal Family of Britain, declared that members of the Royal Family and extended family would cease to use their inherited German styles and titles and that his family name would be 'Windsor' instead instead of 'Saxe-Coburg & Gotha'.   At The King's request, Mountbatten's father relinquished his Princely status and decided (after much debate) to adopt the surname of 'Mountbatten' - a literal Anglicized translation of Battenberg, and he was created a Peer of the Realm taking the title Marquess of Milford Haven, Earl of Medina & Viscount Alderney.  As a result of his father's new status, Mountbatten also lost his own Princely title and assumed the courtesy title of a younger son of a Marquess and became styled 'Lord Louis Mountbatten'.  During his transition from German Prince to a Peer of the Realm, Mountbatten's father was staying with his eldest son - George, who took the courtesy title of 'Earl of Medina' and famously wrote in the guest-book during his change in status - "arrived Prince Hyde. Departed Lord Jekyll."

In the latter part of 1919, Mountbatten was sent by the Admiralty to study at Christ's College, Cambridge where he spent two terms there, and for the first time in his life he was free of restrictions and regulations (eg. what time he could go to bed etc.) which had controlled all his life. Also studying at Cambridge at the same time were two of Mountbatten's cousins - Prince Albert, later King George VI (1895(1936-1952) and Prince Henry, later 1st Duke of Gloucester (1900-1974).  In his first term, Mountbatten was awarded the rare honour of being elected to the Student Union and even led a debate against rival students from Oxford University and invited the then Secretary of State for War, The Rt Hon. (Sir) Winston Churchill (1874-1965) to attend.  Churchill said of Mountbatten - "I trust that he will show as great facility in dealing with admirals on their quarter-decks as with his opponents on this platform."


By 1920, Mountbatten had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and accompanied his cousin -Prince Edward 'David', The Prince of Wales, subsequently King Edward VIII (1894(1936)1972) and later The Duke of Windsor, onboard HMS Renown on his tours to Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan and the Far East.  The Prince and Mountbatten, who was appointed as Flag Lieutenant to Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey (1872-1949), the Comptroller & Treasurer to The Prince of Wales.  Mountbatten had always been close to The Prince and the two cousins shared similar interests and experiences.  Mountbatten would often keep his cousin amused through the constant and sometimes overwhelming onslaught of 'dull' engagements.  

Mountbatten was to write about his cousin, remarking that - "I soon realised that under the delightful smile which charmed people everywhere, and despite all the fun that we managed to have, he was a lonely and sad person, always liable to deep depressions."  He also wrote - "how I wish he wasn't The Prince of Wales and then it would be so much easier to see lots and lots of him!  He is such a marvellous person and I suppose the best friend I have ever had."  The tour was a great success, it lasted 210 days and the Royal party travelled in excess of 45,000 miles, returning to Portsmouth on 11th October 1920.  The Prince said - "I have had a most splendid time during my tour, and I am very happy to be back again."

Upon his return to England from the Royal Tour with The Prince of Wales, Mountbatten was soon able to return to active service and was assigned to command HMS Repulse during the State of Emergency caused by the miner's strike.  He was joined by his father for an impromptu 'cruise' from Sheerness up to Invergordon and clearly loved every minute on-board.  Mountbatten's illustrious father - Louis, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, who had last set foot on a Dreadnought ten years before the trip to Invergordon and who had been raised to the rank of an Admiral of the Fleet in August 1921, subsequently caught a chill and became ill.  Despite showing signs of recovery, the Marquess took to his bed with lumbago at the Naval & Military Club - informally known as the 'In and Out Club', at 42 Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, London and died alone after a heart attack on 11th September 1921.

Mountbatten received news of his father's death by telegram and was deeply affected by it and immediately burst into tears.  He said - "I loved him deeply, and it was the most terrible shock."  Prince Edward 'David', The Prince of Wales, subsequently King Edward VIII (1894(1936)1972) and later The Duke of Windsor said to him at the time - "how lucky you are to have had such a marvellous father!  If I heard my father had died I wouldn’t be able to conceal my delight."  After a funeral service at Westminster Abbey on 19th September 1921, Louis, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven was buried at St Mildred's Church, Whippingham, on the Isle of Wight - the church frequented by Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) whilst in residence at Osborne House and which also houses the resting place of many of Battenberg/Mountbatten's family within the Battenberg chapel.


The gravestone of Prince Louis of Battenberg,

later 1st Marquess of Milford Haven 

at St Mildred's Church, Whippingham, on the Isle of Wight

Mountbatten's mother (who took the style of The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven after her husband's death, wrote to Queen Mary (1867-1953), Queen Consort of King George V (1865(1910-1936) - "it has all been so sudden that I can hardly quite realise it yet, but I am very very grateful that my dear Louis's life - a happy one as men’s go, ended so quickly and quietly, without time for worry, anxiety or sorrow.  He felt a very real affection for you and your children and quite especially George, whom he had known so well in the old days in the Navy, and was always in the full sense of the words ‘at all your service'."


The Naval & Military Club,

Piccadilly, London,

where Mountbatten's father
(Louis, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven)
died in September 1921


Mountbatten's father - 

Prince Louis of Battenberg,

later 1st Marquess of Milford Haven 


The 1937 portrait of Mountbatten's mother -

Victoria, Dowager Marchioness

of Milford Haven

(formerly Princess Louis of Battenberg -
Princess Victoria of Hesse & By the Rhine)

by Philip de László

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