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In Honour Bound

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Website Last Updated - 27 AUG 2019

 1962 - 1970

 

Mountbatten taking his final salute

as Chief of the Defence Staff

Retirement - which Mountbatten only ever saw as a formality, brought further appointments from Colonel of the Life Guards, Life Colonel Commandant of HM Royal Marines, to the Governor of the Isle of Wight. He accepted the Presidency of various technological and scientific organisations, such as the British Computer Society and  in 1967, was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and served on their Scientific Information Committee. Mountbatten also headed a Government sponsored Immigration Mission throughout the Commonwealth and a Home Office Enquiry into Prison security following the escape of KGB spy George Blake (b.1922) from Wormwood Scrubs Prison.

 

The insignia of the Order of Merit
(Military Division)

At his 'farewell audience' as Chief of the Defence Staff with Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-    ) Mountbatten was awarded the Order of Merit (OM), which he called - "an absolutely wonderful gesture on her part".  Like the Order of the Garter (KG) - which Mountbatten received in 1946, the honour of the Order of Merit is one of the few UK decorations which is in the personal gift of the Sovereign and does not require 'advice' from the Prime Minister. To date, Mountbatten was the last recipient of the Military Division of the Order of Merit.

In 1962, Mountbatten was scheduled to retire, however the Prime Minister - The Rt Hon. Harold Wilson, later Lord Wilson of Rievaulx (1916-1995) asked him to stay and see through the task of defence integration.  Wilson had decided to abolish the three individual Service ministries and create a new 'Ministry for Defence'. On 15th July 1965, Mountbatten finally left the Ministry (having served fifty-two years on active duty) and retirement beaconed, although as an Admiral of the Fleet he would remain on the Active List forever.

 

A short film by Pathé about Mountbatten's retirement

from the role of Chief of the Defence Staff

 

A short film by Pathé about Mountbatten's appointment as

Governor of the Isle of Wight

 

Mountbatten in the uniform as Colonel of the Life Guards (Gold Stick in Waiting)

 

A title screenshot from the biographical TV series

"The Life And Times of Lord Mountbatten"

Meanwhile, Mountbatten (having specifically refused to authorise any biography in his lifetime) was persuaded to make a television series about his life - called “The Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten” in 12 episodes which charted his life, with Mountbatten revisiting the locations which had become part of his extra-ordinary life.  The series took two years to make, but was an instant success.  The biographical series was written by leading historian and TV script writer John Terraine (1921-2003), who faced the project with some trepidation due to Mountbatten's "curious mix of boastfulness and diffidence".  Terraine won the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) Writers Award.  The director - Peter Morley (1924-2016) who also directed the live broadcast of the State Funeral of The Rt Hon. Sir Winston Spencer-Churchill (1874-1965), won the Royal Television Society (RTS) Silver Medal.  To view episodes - click HERE

In retirement (and on the back of the success of the TV series), Mountbatten's personal popularity intensified and of course he had much more time on his hands to develop his public status and of course his legacy.  He was respected throughout the Royal courts of Europe and became known as the 'shop-steward of Royalty' due to his status as 'honorary Uncle' to most of his royal relations.  He also became known for becoming a match-maker - engineering opportunities for romantic liaisons amongst his younger protégés.  One of his early candidates for his attention was King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (b.1946), who succeeded his grandfather - King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden (1882-1973), who was Mountbatten's brother-in-law.  He arranged unsuccessful 'meetings' with The Lady Jane Wellesley (b.1951), the daughter of Brigadier Sir Arthur Valerian Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington (1915-2014) - and with The Lady Leonora Grosvenor (b.1949), the daughter of Lt-Col. Robert Grosvenor, 5th Duke of Westminster (1910-1979), who subsequently married Patrick Anson, 5th Earl of Lichfield (1939-2005), more commonly known as the society photographer 'Patrick Lichfield'.  In 1976, The King of Sweden would later marry Miss Silvia Sommerlath (b.1943), the daughter of a German businessman.

 

(left to right): Following their wedding - Prince Michael of Kent & Baroness Marie-Christine VON Reibnitz,

with Sir Angus Ogilvy (husband of Princess Alexandra of Kent), Princess Anne, later Princess Royal,

Lady Helen Taylor (daughter of Prince Edward, 2nd Duke of Kent)  and Mountbatten  

One of Mountbatten's match-making successes was with Prince Michael of Kent (b.1942), the youngest son of Mountbatten's cousin - Prince George, The Duke of Kent (1902-1942).  He personally convinced Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-    ) to allow the Prince to marry Baroness Marie-Christine VON Reibnitz, Mrs Thomas Troubridge (b.1945) - a divorced Roman Catholic.  At the time, such a marriage meant that the Prince would be compelled to renounce his rights of succession to the Throne under the Act of Settlement 1701.  Prince Michael and Marie-Christine were married in the Rathaus, Vienna, Austria in a civil ceremony on 30th June 1978 - which Mountbatten attended.  In 2015, Prince Michael was re-instated to the succession to the Throne following the passing of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013.    

 

Mountbatten with Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales (right)

 

Mountbatten with Lady Amanda Knatchbull (centre)

and Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales (right)

whilst on holiday in The Commonwealth of the Bahamas

Mountbatten's prime candidate for match-making was his great-nephew - Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales (b.1948).  As Heir Apparent to the Throne, Prince Charles was another chance for Mountbatten to be a mentor and literally "the power behind the Throne" and over many years their relationship became so close that the Prince referred to Mountbatten as his "honorary Grandfather".  Mountbatten took an interest into the love-life of the Prince and in 1974, Mountbatten wrote to the Prince - "in a case like yours, a man should sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can before settling down, but for a wife he should choose a suitable, attractive and sweet-natured girl before she has met anyone else she might fall for."   Mountbatten suggested his own granddaughter - The Lady Amanda Knatchbull (b.1957) as a potential suitor for the Prince, knowing that any wife of the Prince would one day be Queen Consort and the Mountbatten name would further be entwined with the House of Windsor.  Meetings were arranged and the Prince subsequently sought advice from Lady Amanda’s mother - Patricia (who was also his god-mother), but she counselled against him even suggesting marriage at this stage.  

Following the Prince’s tour of India in 1980 (which originally Mountbatten had suggested he and Lady Amanda accompany the Prince), The Prince of Wales did indeed propose to Lady Amanda.  However the 1979 bomb at Mullaghmore where she lost her grandfather (Mountbatten), her grandmother (Doreen, the Dowager Lady Brabourne) and her brother (The Hon. Nicholas Knatchbull) made her contemplate the intense pressures of her life as a potential wife of The Prince of Wales and a prominent member of the Royal Family and she subsequently declined the Prince’s proposal.  Patricia would say later that Lady Amanda thought of the Prince like a brother and there was “no spark”.  Lady Amanda subsequently married Charles Vincent Ellingworth (b.1957) in 1987.