The Lady Iris Mountbatten
The Lady Iris Mountbatten
The Lady Iris Victoria Beatrice Grace Mountbatten was born on 13th January 1920 at Kensington Palace, London, the only child of Sir Alexander Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Carisbrooke, formerly HH Prince Alexander of Battenberg (1886-1960) and The Lady Irene Frances Adza Denison (1890-1956), the only daughter of Sir William Denison, 2nd Earl of Londesborough (1864-1917).
Iris was the only British grandchild of Princess Beatrice
(1857-1944), who enjoyed her role as a grandmother much more than she ever did as a mother. In December 1926, Beatrice wrote - "I spent a very peaceful quiet Christmas and had the pleasure of seeing my dear little grand-daughter’s joy over her tree and toys.”
Iris gained a reputation for being a bit rebellious and at 16yrs it was claimed she was the first woman to hold a motorbike licence in England. She grew into a popular society débutante and attended various Royal and society events. On 29th November 1934 she acted as one of the eight bridesmaids at the wedding of her cousins - Prince George, 1st Duke of Kent (1902-1942) and Princess Marina of Greece & Denmark (1906-1968) in Westminster Abbey, London. On 12th May 1937, Iris was one of the six train-bearers for Queen Elizabeth, formerly The Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon and later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1900-2002) at the Coronation of King George VI (1896-1952). She was the youngest of the Queen’s attendants being aged just 17yrs.
Iris in the arms of her mother -
Irene, Marchioness of Carisbrooke
Photographic portrait of Iris
Iris (aged 17yrs) at her home in Kensington Palace, London
On 18th January 1941 Iris’ engagement was formerly announced to Captain (later Major) Hamilton "Hammy" Joseph Keyes O’Malley (1910-1989) - the eldest son of Lieutenant-Colonel Middleton O’Malley-Keyes (1882-1933). They were married on 15th February 1941 (1) at St Paul’s RC Church, Haywards Heath, Sussex and then (2) on the same day at St Mary’s Church (Church of England), Balcombe, Sussex - the local church to Brantridge Park, home of her grandmother - Princess Beatrice, who attended this service. Their marriage did not have the full blessing of her family and caused a rift. Sadly the marriage was not a happy one and they would soon drift apart. Durintg the War, Iris worked for the Red Cross and helped in a military hospital and subsequently worked in the War Office.
Hamilton Keyes O'Malley & Iris on their wedding day -
with her parents: Irene (left) and Alexander (right)
St Mary's Church, Balcombe, West Sussex
O’Malley was an officer in the Irish Guards and saw active service in World War II. He was captured by the Germans after the Battle of Arnhem (Operation Market Garden) in 1944 and was a Prisoner of War, being repatriated in May 1945. Iris and O’Malley were divorced on 24 September 1946 - they had NO children. He remarried within months of his divorce and on 7th January 1949, Iris reverted to her maiden name of Mountbatten by Deed Poll.
A Pond's Cream advertisement featuring Lady Iris Mountbatten
Lady Iris Mountbatten leaving Court
on parole in July 1947 in New York, USA with the Consul-General
- Sir Francus Evans (left)
After World War II, Iris moved to the USA where she found life difficult at first, due to the fact that she had planned to sell Indian brocades to America on behalf of a textiles firm, but she discovered that she would have to be pay hefty duty on her fabric samples and she got into financial difficulties. Iris soon found herself in trouble with the police in July 1947 when she was charged with issuing worthless cheques for $185.05 in a dress shop in Washington DC. She was photographed with Sir Francis Evans (1897-1983), the UK Consul-General leaving the New York Criminal Court on parole. Her lawyer paid the money and the owner of the dress shop agreed to drop the charges. In her defence, Iris said that she did not know that it was an offence in the USA to issue a cheque without sufficient funds to cover the amount. After the charges were withdrawn, the US Bureau of Immigration & Naturalization ordered her to leave the USA. She said at the time - "I love this country, in spite of this incident" and hoped that she would be allowed to stay in the USA. She eventually found employment as a sales assistant in a New York fur store, and soon taught dance, became a model and wanted to become an actress. She became a hostess for a live TV children's programme 'Versatile Varieties' and enjoyed her 'celebrity status' and appeared in adverts endorsing Pond's Creams and Warrens Mint Cocktail.