1960: The Death of Edwina
Edwina (right) visiting patients in North Borneo
shortly before her death
Mountbatten (right) with his daughters
Pamela & Patricia at Portsmouth for
Edwina's burial at sea.
Standing behind is Mountbatten's sister -
Princess Andrew of Greece & Denmark
(Princess Alice of Battenberg) and his nephew -
Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh
Edwina's coffin (draped in the Union Flag)
onboard HMS Wakeful
On 25th February 1960, Edwina’s coffin was taken from Romsey Abbey to Portsmouth as Edwina had asked to be 'buried at sea', which surprised many as she had never cared for the sea. Mountbatten and his family said farewell from the frigate HMS Wakeful.
Following Edwina’s death, Mountbatten threw himself into his work and continued to work on his re-organisation of Britain’s defence. His experience as Supreme Allied Commander had shown him that there were great advantages in closer co-ordination between the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force - and being an officer in all three services was never forgotten and this became his immediate focus to get through the tragedy of the death of his wife. He cast a lonely figure without Edwina, but even without her 'sparkle' his sense of duty compelled him keep going and not give up the work they had started together.
Personal tragedy came to Mountbatten in February 1960. Having recently celebrated the marriage of their youngest daughter - The Lady Pamela Mountbatten, to the designer and interior decorator, David Hicks (1929-1998) on 13th January 1960 at Romsey Abbey, the subsequent untimely death of Edwina, dealt a heavy blow to Mountbatten and his family.
Edwina had arrived in Jesselton, North Borneo (now Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia) on 18th February 1960, and although not being well, she carried on with her usual dedication, fulfilling a heavy list of engagements on behalf of both the St John’s Ambulance Brigade (of which she was its Superintendent-in-Chief) and the Save the Children Fund (of which she was its President). Despite the clear symptoms of overwork, Edwina carried on and worked through her illness. Edwina, Countess Mountbatten of Burma was found dead on the morning of 21st February 1960 - she was aged just 59yrs old.