1979: Ceremonial Funeral
Mountbatten's coffin at Southampton (Eastleigh) Airport - en route to Broadlands,
carried by an honour guard of the Royal Air Force
The coffins of Mountbatten, The Dowager Lady Brabourne and young Nicholas Knatchbull were flown back to the UK arriving at Southampton (Eastleigh) Airport, before being taken to Broadlands by hearse. Mountbatten's coffin was subsequently taken to Romsey Abbey, where members of the Broadlands staff had executed a day/night vigil for two days and then he was taken to The Queen's Chapel at St James' Palace, where over 25,000 people filed past to show their respects to Mountbatten.
Mountbatten was granted the rare honour of a Ceremonial Funeral - held at Westminster Abbey, London, on 5th September 1979 which was televised globally. The news of the murder of this retired old sailor affected many, not just in the United Kingdom but throughout the World. For the last few years of his life, Mountbatten had personally supervised the plans for his own funeral to the extent that he went into every minutia of the arrangements from whether his coffin would be lead-lined to the size of the cushions which would carry his numerous orders and decorations. As Mountbatten held either rank or had some other personal connection with numerous corps in all three branches of HM Armed Forces, he took great pleasure in ensuring they were all involved. He originally had asked to be buried with his parents at St Mildred's Church at Whippingham on the Isle of Wight, but subsequently changed his mind to Romsey Abbey. The only thing Mountbatten could not plan was the date and the manner of his death. The congregation in Westminster Abbey consisted of Royalty, Service personnel, politicians and statesmen from many nations and the ceremony itself was planned with full Naval precision by the one person who was probably upset that he would not see it - Mountbatten himself.
The official pall bearers (who walked alongside his coffin) were -
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Ashmore (1919-2016) - First Sea Lord 1974-1977;
General Sir Robert Ford (1923-2015) - Adjutant-General 1978-1981;
Admiral John T. "Chick" Hayward (1908-1999) - USA Admiral who saw service in WWII in the Pacific;
Admiral Robert L. Pereira (1923-1993) - Indian Chief of Naval Staff 1979-1982;
Lieutenant-General Sir John Richards (1927-2004) - Commandant-General HM Royal Marines 1977-1981;
Marshal of the RAF Sir William Dickson (1898-1987) - the first Chief of the Defence Staff in 1959, being Mountbatten's predecessor;
Général Alain de Boissieu (1915-2006) -Chief of Staff of the French Army 1971-1975, who was also the son-in-law of Général Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), the leader of Free France during WWII and President of France 1959-1969;
Rear-Admiral Chit Hlaing, formerly Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar (Burma) Navy
Mountbatten's horse "Dolly"
in the funeral possession -
with his boots reversed in the saddle
A British Movietone film (no audio) about Mountbatten's Ceremonial Funeral
Mountbatten's coffin in Westminster Abbey
"I can't think of a more wonderful
thanksgiving for the life I have had
than that everyone
should be jolly at my funeral"
Louis, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
On the day of Mountbatten's funeral, there was a respectful 2 minutes silence held throughout Ireland, factories stopped working, buses and cars parked up and the Irish tricolour was flown as half-mast as a mark of respect, above the General Post Office (GPO) at O'Connell Street in Dublin - the scene of the Easter Rising in 1916.
Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales (b.1948) read the lesson - from Psalm 107 - "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof..." Following the service in Westminster Abbey, Mountbatten's coffin was taken to Waterloo Station on a special train for Romsey. Mountbatten was subsequently laid to rest (at his own request) during a private family service at Romsey Abbey, Romsey, Hampshire - not far from his beloved home at Broadlands.
Click ABOVE to see Mountbatten's funeral
Order of Service at Westminster Abbey
ABOVE: Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales
reading the lesson at Mountbatten's funeral in Westminster Abbey.
INSET: A sombre Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
& Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales at Mountbatten's funeral
Mountbatten's coffin leaves Westminster Abbey
Mountbatten's funeral procession - his coffin was carried
on a gun carriage through the streets of London
The day after Mountbatten's ceremonial funeral, the family held the funeral of Nicholas and Doreen at the local parish church in Mersham, Kent close to The Brabourne's family home - Newhouse. The service was private, but Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh (b.1921) attended, however Patricia and John were clearly unable to attend due to being in hospital. The service was led by The Archbishop of Canterbury - The Most Rev & Rt Hon. Dr Donald Coggan, later Lord Coggan (1909-2000), who had baptised Nicholas.
BELOW: Mountbatten's grave
within Romsey Abbey
MAY HE REST IN PEACE
AND HIS MEMORY LIVE FOREVER