LORD LEOPOLD MOUNTBATTEN
Lord Leopold Mountbatten
(Prince Leopold of Battenberg)
Major Lord Leopold 'Leo' Arthur Louis Mounbatten, GCVO, formerly HH Prince Leopold of Battenberg was born at 2.05am on 21st May 1889 at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, the second son (and third child) of Prince Henry of Battenberg (1858-1896) and The Princess Beatrice (1857-1944). He was named 'Leopold' after his late uncle - Prince Leopold, 1st Duke of Albany (1853-1884) but in a cruel twist of irony, Leopold also inherited the genetic disorder of haemophilia like his uncle, which would ultimately shorten both of their lives. Known as 'Leo', he was described by his grandmother - Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) as a "particularly pretty child". Under the terms of the Royal Warrant issued by Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) on 13th December 1886, he was granted the style of Highness within the United Kingdom but as a male-line descendant of The Princess of Battenberg (1825-1895), Leopold was styled Serene Highness within the German Empire.
Leopold was christened in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire on 28th June 1889 by The Most Rev & Rt Hon. Randall Davidson, later 1st Lord Davidson of Lambeth (1848-1930), Dean of Windsor, later Archbishop of Canterbury. Leopold's godparents were - King Leopold II, King of the Belgians (1835-1909); Princess Louise, The Duchess of Argyll (1848-1939), daughter of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901); The Duchess of Albany, formerly Princess Helen of Waldeck & Pyrmont (1861-1922), the widow of Prince Leopold, 1st Duke of Albany (1853-1884); Prince Arthur, 1st Duke of Connaught & Strathearn (1850-1942), son of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901); The Princess of Erbach-Schönberg, formerly Princess Marie of Battenberg (1852-1923); and Admiral of the Fleet The Rt Hon. Sir Louis Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, formerly Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854-1921) - the father of Mountbatten (the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma).
ABOVE: Prince Leopold as a child,
in a military uniform
RIGHT: The sons of Prince
& Princess Henry of Battenberg -
(left to right) Prince Leopold; Prince Maurice; and Prince Alexander 'Drino'
(later 1st Marquess of Carisbrooke)
After studying at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Leopold sought a career in the Army. Despite his haemophilia (which would have disqualified him from serving in the Army) in 1909, Leopold joined the 8th (Isle of Wight Rifles, Princess Beatrice's) Battalion, The Hampshire Regiment, known informally as the 'Isle of Wight Rifles' or 'The Isle of Wight Gurkhas', a Territorial Army regiment of which his father - Prince Henry, who was Governor of Carisbrooke Castle and Captain-General & Governor of the Isle of Wight was an Honorary Colonel. In October 1911, he joined as a Second Lieutenant the 60th King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC). When World War I was declared in 1914, it meant his regiment would go on active service, and although Leopold was promoted to Lieutenant, his duties were restricted to a non-combat staff appointment. He was subsequently promoted to the rank of Captain on 14th September 1916.
Due to Leopold's delicate health, he had taken to spending the Winter in warmer locations, and in his youth he travelled extensively around Egypt, Algeria, Madeira, the Canary Islands, the Azores. In 1909, he suffered from complications from influenza, and went to Madrid, Spain to recover. In 1911, he sadly fell ill while cruising off the coast of New Zealand, and was hospitalised in Sydney, Australia.
ABOVE: The insignia of a Knight Commander
of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO)
LEFT: The Arms of Lord Leopold Mountbatten
(Prince Leopold of Battenberg)
In 1911, Leopold was appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in the Coronation Honours List of King George V (1865(1910-1936) and in the New Year Honours List in 1915 he was appointed a Knight Grand Cross (GCVO) of the Order. On 17th July 1917, King George V (1865(1910-1936) issued a Royal Proclamation in response to anti-German attacks against the dynastic German Royal Family of Britain where he 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, Leopold's family relinquished their Princely status and decided to adopt the surname of 'Mountbatten' - a literal Anglicized translation of Battenberg. From 14th July 1917 to 11th September 1917, he became 'Sir Leopold Mountbatten' and he was subsequently granted the style and precedence of a younger son of a Marquess and became known as 'Lord Leopold Mountbatten'. On 14th April 1920, Leopold resigned his commission in the Army, and granted the honorary rank of Major by King George V (1865(1910-1936).
ABOVE LEFT: The four children of Princess Beatrice (Princess Henry of Battenberg)
& Prince Henry of Battenberg at Osborne College - (left to right) Prince Maurice; Prince Leopold;
Princess Victoria Eugénie 'Ena', later The Queen of Spain
& Prince Alexander 'Drino', later 1st Marquess of Carisbrooke
RIGHT: Lord Leopold with his sister - Princess Victoria Eugénie 'Ena', later The Queen of Spain
Leopold's health soon became of concern and his mobility was compromised, so on 22nd April 1922, Leopold underwent hip surgery at Kensington Palace and although he appeared to be making a normal recovery, he had a relapse and died in the morning of 23rd April 1922 - aged 32yrs old. Upon the announcement of his sudden unexpected death, Leopold's mother - Princess Beatrice, who was staying with Sir Victor Corkran, (1873-1934), Controller of Princess Beatrice's Household, immediately returned from Palermo, Sicily and his coffin lay in the private chapel at Marlborough House until his funeral. The King ordered two weeks Court mourning.
ABOVE: A stained glass window at
Magdalene College, Cambridge showing
the Arms of Lord Leopold Mountbatten
(Prince Leopold of Battenberg)
RIGHT: A sketch of Lord Leopold (c.1920)
by Reginald Grenville Eves
On 1st May 1922, Leopold’s funeral service was held at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, conducted by The Very Rev. Dr Albert Baillie (1864-1955), Dean of Windsor. His coffin (covered in a Union Flag, a busby, Leopold's sword and a wreath from the King's Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) was conveyed to Windsor via train from Paddington Station, and his cousin - King George V (1865(1910-1936) led the procession through the streets of Windsor up to St George’s Chapel. At the same time, a memorial service for Leopold was held at The Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, London. Leopold was subsequently buried in the private Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore on the Windsor Castle estate on 23rd October 1928.
Lord Leopold's grave
within the Royal Burial Ground,
Frogmore, Windsor, Berkshire
The funeral procession of Lord Leopold Mountbatten
(formerly Prince Leopold of Battenberg)
having just passed through the Henry VIII Gate
at Windsor Castle leading to St George's Chapel
in May 1922, led by King George V