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 George, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven

Captain Sir George Louis Victor Henry Serge Mountbatten, GCVO, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, 2nd Earl of Medina & 2nd Viscount Alderney, formerly HSH Prince George of Battenberg was born on 6th December 1892 at Neues Palais, Darmstadt, within the Grand Duchy of Hesse, part of the German Empire, the third child and eldest son of Admiral of the Fleet The Rt Hon. Sir Louis Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, formerly Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854-1921) and Princess Victoria of Hesse & By the Rhine (1863-1950), who was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901).   

 

Known as 'Georgie' in the family - he was named George after Prince George of Wales, later King George V (1865(1910-1936); Louis after Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse & By the Rhine (1837-1892) who had died a few months before his birth; Victor after Victoria, The Empress Frederick of Germany & Princess Royal (1840-1901); Henry after Prince Henry of Battenberg (1858-1896) and Serge after Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich of Russia (1857-1905).

 

George, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven

(Prince George of Battenberg)

 

ABOVE: George in the uniform

of a Midshipman

BELOW: (centre)

Louis, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven

(Prince Louis of Battenberg)

with his two sons -

Mountbatten (left)

and George (right)

After a private education, George was enrolled as a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and by January 1913 he was promoted to the rank of Sub-Lieutenant and to full Lieutenant on 15th February 1914.  George saw active service during World War I onboard HMS New Zealand, where he was joined by his younger brother - Mountbatten.  HMS New Zealand was part of the Grand Fleet and participated in the battles at Heligoland Bight, Dogger Bank and Jutland.   

 

The Battenberg family were one of the many 'victims' of the Royal Proclamation of 17th July 1917, when King George V (1865(1910-1936) – in response to anti-German attacks against the dynastic German Royal Family of Britain, declared that members of the Royal Family and extended family would cease to use their inherited German styles and titles and that his family name would be Windsor instead of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha.  At The King's request, George’s father relinquished his Princely status and decided (after much debate) to adopt the surname of Mountbatten - a literal Anglicized translation of Battenberg, and was created a Peer of the Realm taking the title Marquess of Milford Haven, Earl of Medina & Viscount Alderney.  As a result of his father’s new status, George also lost his own Princely title and as the eldest son of a Marquess, George became known by his father's subsidiary title - Earl of Medina.  The new Marquess of Milford Haven was proud of his German princely title, status and name and saw his 'demotion' to being a Peer of the Realm as a “break with one’s past” and was more worried about the effect it would have on his children. 

 

ABOVE: Countess Nadejda de Torby

BELOW: George & Nadejda

(Prince & Princess George of Battenberg)

with their 4 bridesmaids

 

On 15th November 1916, George married at the Russian Orthodox Chapel of the Russian Embassy, 32 Welbeck Street, London - Countess Nadejda 'Nada' Mikhailovna de Torby (1896-1963), the daughter of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia (1861-1929) - a grandson of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia (1796-1855), and his morganatic wife Countess Sophie of Merenberg (1868-1927) who was a granddaughter of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), who was created Countess de Torby in 1891 by her uncle - Grand Duke Adolphe of Luxembourg (1817-1905).  The Russian Orthodox service was followed by an Anglican service at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, London in the presence of King George V (1865(1910-1936) and Queen Mary (1867-1952).  The bride wore a gown of cloth of silver with a satin finish and her Russian head-dress had silver leaves and orange blossom, with a long tulle veil coming down over the train. 

 

An official photographic portrait

of George & Nadejda

(Prince & Princess George of Battenberg)

following their wedding

The best man was - 

Lt-Cmdr The Hon. Vere Fane, Lord Burghersh

later 14th Earl of Westmorland

(1893-1948)

 

The four bridesmaids were -

Princess Louise of Battenberg,

later The Queen of Sweden,

formerly The Lady Louise Mountbatten

(1889-1965)

Sister of the groom - the daughter of

Prince Louis of Battenberg,

later 1st Marquess of Milford Haven

Countess Anastasia 'Zia' de Torby,

later Lady Zia Wernher

(1892-1977)

Sister of the bride - the daughter of

Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia

Princess Nina Georgievna of Russia,

later Princess Paul Aleksandrovich Chavchavadze

(1901-1974)

Cousin of both the groom & bride - 

the daughter of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia & Princess Maria of Greece & Denmark


Princess Xenia Georgievna of Russia,

later Mrs William Leeds

and subsequently Mrs Herman Jud

(1903-1965)

Cousin of both the groom & bride - 

the daughter of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia & Princess Maria of Greece & Denmark

 

Nadejda's parents' morganatic and illegal marriage in San Remo, Italy on 26th February 1891 resulted in her father - Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia (1861-1929) being banished from the Russian Imperial Court.  Such was the scandal that the Grand Duke's own mother was so shocked at news of the marriage that she collapsed and subsequently died of a heart attack.   The Grand Duke and his subsequent family settled in England, but he also had a villa in Cannes, France where he became such a prominent member of Riviera society that he became known as "the uncrowned King of Cannes".  Nadejda’s family had lived in fairly reduced circumstances following the Russian Revolution and moved from the Kenwood House estate in Hampstead, London to a more modest house in Regent’s Park, London.   

George and Nadejda had two children -

  • The Lady Tatiana Elizabeth Mountbatten, born 16th December 1917 in Edinburgh, Scotland, who suffered from severe learning difficulties and mental illness and was (as was the custom in those days) shut away in hospitals and care homes.  She died in St Andrew's Hospital, Northampton on 15th May 1988.  She was buried at St Augustine of Canterbury Church, Birdbrook, Essex - close to Moyns Park, Steeple Bumpstead (the former home of George, 4th Marquess of Milord Haven and Lord Ivar Mountbatten).

On 11th September 1921, George's father - Louis, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven died in London and George succeeded to his father's titles, becoming the 2nd Marquess.  He remained in the Royal Navy after World War I and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander on 15th February 1922 and to Commander on 31st December 1926.  George was very popular in the Royal Navy and was liked by both his men and his senior officers, often being called a 'born leader'.  His wife - who was very good friends with his sister-in-law Edwina, like many former members of the Imperial Russian Royal Family in exile had lost her family fortune, so George decided to leave the Royal Navy to make some money - before he became too old.  On 9th December 1932, at his own request he retired from the Service.

In the New Years Honours List of 1932, George was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) - having been made a Knight Commander (KCVO) on 15th November 1916.  George was also awarded the Order of St Vladmir, 4th Class with Swords and was made a Knight of the Military Order of Savoy in 1917.  

 

George & Nadejda with their two children - 

Lady Tatiana (left) and David, Earl of Medina (right)