Farewell to India
Mountbatten - the last Viceroy of India
and first Governor-General of the Dominion of India
Edwina at the official "farewell" dinner
with a bereft Nehru (right)
On 21st June 1948, Mountbatten handed over the office of Governor-General of the Dominion of India to the veteran Indian politician - Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari (1878-1972), the first Indian born to hold the office. On the eve of their departure, The Mountbattens were guests of honour at a banquet where their contribution to India was lavishly praised by the Prime Minister - Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964). Nehru was to say - “I wondered how it was that an Englishman and Englishwoman could become so popular in India during this brief period of time”.
The Mountbattens left Government House with all the pomp and pageantry one would expect. Mountbatten inspected a Guard of Honour and having formally taken his final salute, The Mountbattens left in the open State Landau carriage heading for the airport with thousands of ordinary Indians shouting their love and admiration for Mountbatten and Edwina along the route. Two days later The Mountbattens returned to the UK via RAF Northolt, and among the officials awaiting them was Mountbatten’s nephew - Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh (b.1921) and The Rt Hon. Clement Attlee, later 1st Earl Attlee (1883-1967), the Prime Minister - who had never really believed that Mountbatten would be successful. Attlee said - "In my opinion no other man could have carried out this tremendous task." Mountbatten said of Edwina - "I never could have done it without Edwina."
Mountbatten - the outgoing Governor-General of the Dominion of India, Edwina and Pamela leaving Government House, New Delhi
However, not everyone was so pleased with Mountbatten. Many disagreed with his perceived 'cavalier' attitude towards Indian’s independence, stating that he had sought glory for himself and that his rushed policies were the cause of so much chaos and ultimately the needless death of so many people.
Mountbatten knew that his great mentor - The Rt Hon. Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), then the Leader of HM Opposition, was so angry with him that he had refused to speak to him. Mountbatten’s answer was - "history will be my judge.”