EDWINA, COUNTESS MOUNTBATTEN OF BURMA
Mountbatten with his sister -
Queen Louise of Sweden
arriving at Edwina's Memorial Service
at Westminster Abbey. Following behind is Patricia, Pamela & John,7th Lord Brabourne
ABOVE: Sir Malcolm Sargent
RIGHT & BELOW: Mountbatten
with his daughters
(left) Patricia and (right) Pamela leaving
Edwina's Memorial Service
at Westminster Abbey, London
On 7th March 1960, a memorial service for Edwina was held in Westminster Abbey, London where Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021) represented The Queen (who was confined to bed following recently giving birth to Prince Andrew). He was joined by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1900-2002); Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (1930-2002); Prince Henry, 1st Duke of Gloucester (1900-1974) and his wife Alice (1901-2004); and Prince Edward, 2nd Duke of Kent (b.1935) and his mother Princess Marina, The Duchess of Kent (1906-1968). Mountbatten attended the service, accompanied by his daughters - Patricia and Pamela, with their husbands John and David; and Mountbatten's sister - Queen Louise of Sweden, formerly Princess Louise of Battenberg (1889-1965). It was said that the Abbey had seen "the most distinguished gathering since the Coronation." and in his address, The Archbishop of Canterbury - The Most Rev & Rt Hon. Geoffrey Fisher, later The Lord Fisher of Lambeth (1887-1972) said of Edwina - "she had died on active service in North Borneo, obedient to the call of that service, in which for so long she had been so courageously and so unsparingly engaged."
Music at the service included "Jerusalem" by Sir C. Hubert Parry, Bt. (1848-1918) with words by William Blake (1757-1827); Parry's "Sunset and Evening Star" with words by Alfred, 1st Lord Tennyson (1809-1892); the anthem "This Sanctuary of my Soul" with words by War-poet Captain Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915), who was killed at the Battle of Loos; and the Russian "Contakion of the Departed" - from the Great Euchologion of the Byzantine liturgy.
Some of the music at Westminster Abbey was conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent (1895-1967) - who Mountbatten referred to as "one of my wife’s greatest friends". Edwina and Sargent had first met in 1941 when he conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra and by the end of World War II became occasional lovers. Sargent was even at the airport in March 1947 to say farewell to The Mountbattens as they headed off to India to take up their role as Viceroy and Vicereine. Edwina had been responsible for recommending Sargent for a knighthood and encouraged him to move to an apartment at Albert Hall Mansions (close to the Royal Albert Hall, London) - where she loaned several Persian carpets, fine china and furniture from Broadlands. Edwina was a regular member of his audiences and Sargent was frequently invited to dinner parties with Edwina’s social set. Whilst Sargent lay dying in July 1967, Mountbatten visited him and in an effort to 'cheer him up' told him how the country should be proud of his vast achievements. Sargent died of pancreatic cancer on 3rd October 1967, having had personal phone calls from Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-2022) and Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, later King Charles III (1948(2022- ) on his deathbed.
On 5th March 1960, a memorial service was held on 5th March 1960 at Romsey Abbey, where Edwina's coffin had laid, watched over by staff from the Broadlands Estate prior to her funeral. Over 1,000 people attended which included representatives from the St John's Ambulance Brigade, the British Red Cross and civic authorities from all over Hampshire. Mountbatten attended the service, accompanied by his daughters - Patricia and Pamela, with their husbands John and David; Mountbatten's sister - Queen Louise of Sweden, formerly Princess Louise of Battenberg (1889-1965) and Edwina's cousin - Marjorie Pratt, Countess of Brecknock (1900-1989). The address was given by Dr Alwyn Williams (1888-1968), the Bishop of Winchester, who said - "anyone who met her, if even for a short time and in a crowd, felt at once a personal welcome, a true and warm recognition and remembrance. She had the precious gift of caring individually for all sorts of people, and they knew that she cared."
On 14th February 1985 (the anniversary of the Mountbatten’s engagement in 1922), a memorial plaque was unveiled by Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021) - Mountbatten’s nephew. The plaque, which is in the Nave of Westminster Abbey was designed by Christopher Ironside (1913-1992) who was particularly known for the reverse sides of the new British coins issued on decimalisation in 1971. The Belgian fossil marble slab is inlaid with brass and stainless steel and shows facing profile portraits of Mountbatten and Edwina and shows various honours they held and emblems of organisations or services they were involved with. Other members of the Royal Family who attended the unveiling of the memorial plaque included Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1901-2002), Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, later
King Charles III (1948(2022- ) - accompanied by The Princess of Wales (1961-1997) and Princess Anne, The Princess Royal (b.1950). The lesson at the service was read by the actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft (1907-1991).
Edwina's memorial plaque
on the Broadlands pew
within Romsey Abbey
The site of The Mountbatten Memorial
in Westminster Abbey -
which is below a portrait of King Richard II, in the Nave,
in front of St George's Chapel
(where the Coronation Chair is housed)
The Mountbatten Memorial in Westminster Abbey
Following Edwina's death, the 'Edwina Mountbatten Fund' was established and its first schemes financed from the Fund were - the St John's Ambulance Brigade (to bring people from overseas to the UK for first-aid and nursing courses; the Save the Children Fund (to fight tuberculosis abroad, especially in South Korea); and to create Nursing Research Fellowships in the UK and abroad. The Chairman of the Fund was The Rt Hon. Sir Walter Monckton, 1st Viscount Monckton (1891-1965), the Chairman of Midland Bank, who had been a legal advisor to Mountbatten's cousin - Prince Edward 'David', The Prince of Wales, subsequently King Edward VIII (1894(1936)1972) and later The Duke of Windsor, during the Abdication crisis of 1936.
Will we ever know what prompted Edwina to literally keep on going, driving herself to an early grave? It was said of Edwina - "she was very obstinate. But more than that, for Edwina a commitment was a commitment. She cared. She never took on a job she didn't care about, and when she did, nothing would stop her from completing it." Edwina's sense of duty had been installed into her from birth and finding Mountbatten - who was equally as competitive as her, resulted in their mutually competitive determination to "reach the top", but yet they both enjoyed a sense of pride in each other's reflective glory. Edwina's mantra of "of course I'm well - I'm always well" and her granite determination was often frightening to those who stupidly chose to get in her way. One friend likened Edwina to "a bluebottle that is driven nearly frantic in a room and suddenly finds the open window."
All we can say for certain is that Edwina was a remarkable lady, whose selfless sense of duty and determination changed the lives of many throughout the world for the better.
MAY SHE REST IN PEACE
AND HER MEMORY LIVE FOREVER