The Lady Pamela Hicks
The Lady Pamela Hicks
The Lady Pamela Carmen Louise Hicks (née Mountbatten) was born on 19th April 1929 in the Ritz Hotel, Barcelona, Spain, the youngest daughter of Admiral of the Fleet The Rt Hon. Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900-1979) and The Hon. Dame Edwina Ashley (1901-1960). Pamela’s middle name of Carmen was to honour María del Carmen Saavedra y de Collado (1897-1967), the wife of Hernando Fitz-James Stuart y Falcó, 14th Duke of Peñaranda de Duero (1882-1936); and Louise to honour Mountbatten’s sister - The Lady Louise Mountbatten, formerly Princess Louise of Battenberg (1889-1965) - who later became Queen of Sweden.
Prior to her birth, her parents had been on holiday in Algeciras and Morocco - where Edwina had ridden a donkey whilst heavily pregnant. Mountbatten subsequently returned to the Fleet at Gibraltar and Edwina drove 165 miles to Malaga, then caught 2 trains to Barcelona to meet Mountbatten there.
The birth of Pamela caused Edwina and Mountbatten some concern as a Doctor could not be found. In her book “Daughter of Empire: Life as a Mountbatten” Pamela wrote - “despite my father’s best efforts, the hotel could only find an ear, nose, and throat specialist to help them. In desperation my father telephoned his cousin [Queen Victoria Eugenie 'Ena' of Spain (1887-1969)] in Madrid. She was away, but her husband [King Alfonso XIII of Spain (1886-1941)] answered. “We’re having a baby,” exclaimed my father. The King, a great womanizer, got the wrong end of the stick and replied, “Oh, my dear Dickie, I won’t tell anyone.” “Tell everyone!” implored my father. “It’s my wife. Edwina’s having the baby.” “Leave everything to me,” said the King, and rang off. Within half an hour the Royal Guard had the hotel surrounded. In the meantime a doctor had been found and dispatched to the local hospital to secure the necessary equipment and an English nurse, who appeared “like an angel” and administered chloroform to deaden the pain my mother was experiencing. Downstairs, the doctor had returned from the hospital with an ominously large bag, but he rushed with such steely determination towards the entrance of the hotel that he was promptly arrested by the Royal Guards.”
Pamela's birthplace - The Ritz Hotel, Barcelona, Spain
Pamela with her mother - Edwina, Countess Mountbatten of Burma
Pamela’s birth was five weeks early but full of excitement for all concerned, especially Edwina who recuperated in their suite at the Ritz for 3 weeks following the birth. Pamela was laid in a crib made of a dog basket, an unusual start for a child born with such noble and Royal connections. Some weeks after Pamela’s birth, Edwina became very ill with an internal infection and it was thought that she had contracted septicaemia and that she might die.
After a month of treatment (including a diet of raw liver) and nursing, Edwina eventually started to rejoin social and charitable events.
Pamela was sent to Buckswood Grange boarding school in Crawley, Sussex (30 miles from London) and would return home for the school holidays but World War II loomed and difficult decisions had to be made in the event of the country being occupied by Nazi Germany. With the Mountbatten’s Royal connections and Edwina’s own Jewish ancestry, it was feared that The Mountbattens would be a genuine target for invading enemy forces. Following the fall of France in 1940, it was decided that both Patricia and Pamela would be evacuated to America and they were sent via the SS Washington to stay with leading socialite Grace Vanderbilt (1870-1953).