PATRICIA, 2nd COUNTESS MOUNTBATTEN OF BURMA
On 15th June 1974, Patricia was appointed Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) - the last privately raised regiment in the then British Empire. She succeeded her cousin - The Lady Patricia Ramsay, formerly Princess Patricia 'Patsy' of Connaught & Strathearn (1886-1974), the daughter of Prince Arthur, 1st Duke of Connaught & Strathearn (1850-1942), third son of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) who named the regiment in 1914 after his daughter whilst he was Governor-General of Canada. The PPCLI or 'The Patricias' (as it is commonly and affectionately called) was founded at his own expense by Brigadier-General The Rt Hon. Andrew Hamilton Gault (1882-1952) at the outbreak of Word War I in 1914 and quickly established itself as a loyal, brave and courageous regiment. Lady Patricia Ramsay remained an active Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment until her death, aged 87yrs on 12th January 1974.
Mountbatten's eldest daughter - Patricia, who was known to the regiment always as 'Lady Patricia' became an active and proud Colonel-in-Chief, visiting Canada often and she endured long journeys and difficult conditions to meet with soldiers serving in remote and isolated areas such as Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, as well as Cyprus and Germany.
An official portrait of Patricia as PPCLI Colonel-in-Chief
In her advancing years, Patricia knew that she would no longer be able to travel long distances and in her own words at the age of 83yrs, she was "no longer able to get into a tank", so she made it known that she would relinquish her role as Colonel-in-Chief of the PPCLI. On 17th March 2007 (the date of Lady Patricia Ramsay's birthday), Patricia was succeeded as Colonel-in-Chief by a former Governor-General - The Rt Hon. Adrienne Clarkson (b.1939). In a moving ceremony on 28th August 2007 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, The Rt Hon. Michaëlle Jean (b.1957) - then Governor-General of Canada, presented Patricia with the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross (MSC) for her services as Colonel-in-Chief of the PPCLI. The Governor-General said in her speech - "The Countess Mountbatten of Burma is a model we can all look up to — an example of such timeless values as duty, selflessness and honour. For more than 30 years, she performed the duties of Colonel-in-Chief with the greatest degree of commitment to the soldiers and a deep and abiding interest in their welfare, and that of their families. She has helped unite serving soldiers, veterans, cadets, their families and the general public, raising awareness of the regiment and underscoring its ongoing contribution to the well-being of Canadians. For all these reasons, I am very pleased, as commander-in-chief of the Canadian Forces, to present the Meritorious Service Cross to Lady Patricia, the Right Honourable Countess Mountbatten of Burma. I offer the sincere thanks of the people of Canada for your many years of service."
Patricia with The Rt Hon. Adrienne Clarkson (right) -
her successor as Colonel-in-Chief of the PPCLI
The Lady Patricia Ramsay
(formerly Princess Patricia
of Connaught & Strathearn)
Patricia in PPCLI uniform
An official photograph
as PPCLI Colonel-in-Chief
The insignia of the
Meritorious Service Cross
Patricia receiving the
Meritorious Service Cross
(MSC) from The Rt Hon.
of Canada (right)
Patricia (outgoing PPCLI
at the official handover
the role of Colonel-in-Chief
of the PPCLI
in August 2007
Upon the death of her father on 27th August 1979 in the explosion at the hands of the IRA, under the special remainder granted by King George VI (1895(1936-1952), Patricia succeeded in her own right to the Earldom, Viscountcy and Barony awarded to her father, and she became styled 'The Countess Mountbatten of Burma'. Patricia and her husband joined a rare group of married people who both held titles in their own right. She recalled the events of the day some years later - "We were all very happy and relaxed... I remember it was the most beautiful day, very still and in fact it was the last thing I said to my mother-in-law, and then suddenly the world exploded. I thought the engine had blown up and I found myself in water deep down, turning over and over." Although badly injured, Patricia and her husband did their best to rebuild their lives, which they did with fortitude, strength, and compassion without bitterness. They were determined that the Mountbatten/Knatchbull family name would not forever be associated with tragedy, and they devoted the years after the bombing to restoring peace, hope and certainty to their family.
Patricia & John, 7th Lord Brabourne in their hospital beds.
Patricia's face clearly showing the signs of her injuries, which she called her "IRA facelift"
Due to the injuries sustained in the explosion that killed Mountbatten, Patricia was not able to attend the funeral of her father or their 14yr son - The Hon. Nicholas 'Nicky' Knatchbull, but she was able to attend with her husband (both in wheelchairs) the wedding on 20th October 1979 of their eldest son, The Hon. Norton Knatchbull (b.1947), then styled Lord Romsey after the death of his grandfather and who subsequently succeeded as the 8th Lord Brabourne and upon Patricia's own death in 2017, has succeeded as 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Patricia said some years later of her father, mother-in-law and her young son - "I loved him (Mountbatten) most dearly - but he died in old age.... he was nearly 80... She (Doreen, The Dowager Lady Brabourne) was a dear person who I loved greatly - but she too had enjoyed a wonderful long life... I knew my father would never be forgotten, and he had lived his life. But darling Nicky? He was only 14. His life had hardly begun. It is difficult to explain the death of a child, you have lost part of your own self. You never really get over it."
Since the terrible events at Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo in August 1979, Patricia turned her personal loss into a force for good - not just mending her own shattered family but using her experience by helping other bereaved parents, through her support of two charities - the Child Bereavement Charity and Compassionate Friends. Despite crying every morning for six months following the explosion, she commented that the bereavement process was "the seemingly endless black tunnel through which those left behind have to pass to reach the light that truly does appear at the end, and which we eventually found ourselves".
The insignia of the
John, 7th Lord Brabourne & Patricia (both in wheelchairs)
at Romsey Abbey for the wedding of Norton, Lord Romsey
(later 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma)
to Miss Penelope Eastwood, in October 1979
Patricia at Burma Star event for the 60th Anniversary
of VJ-Day (Victory over Japan) in 2005
Patricia was well known for her charitable work, from her work with the Order of St. John, SOS Children’s Villages UK, the Burma Star Association to name just a few. In 1981, Patricia was appointed a Dame of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem (DStJ) and in 1991 she was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) and was a local magistrate (JP) for many years. Patricia held the office of Vice Lord-Lieutenant of the County of Kent between 1984-1989, having been appointed a Deputy Lieutenant (DL) in 1973. In 1976, Patricia was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration (CD).
In 2002, Patricia agreed that the Legion of Frontiersmen of the Commonwealth (of which she was Patron) would be known as 'Countess Mountbatten's Own', which celebrates her family’s long connection with the Legion of Frontiersmen going back to her grandfather - Prince Louis of Battenberg, later 1st Marquess of Milford Haven (1854-1921), who was a founder-member of the Legion.
Patricia taking the salute at the Legion of Frontiersmen's
Centenary Parade outside The Guildhall, in the City of London
in April 2005
On the 24th April 2005, the Countess Mountbatten's Own Frontiersmen together with the Legion of Frontiersmen Volunteer Reserve celebrated one hundred years of serve to Crown and Country, with a Service of Thanksgiving at St Botolph Without Bishopsgate Church in the City of London. The Centennial Service was preceded with a Ride of the Legion's Troop of Horse saddling up in The Royal Mews, then riding out past Buckingham Palace onto the City of London, where they joined the Frontiersmen from around the world as they left the church to Troop the Colour before Patricia, who awaited them on the forecourt of The Guildhall and took the salute.