LOUIS, 1st EARL MOUNTBATTEN OF BURMA
1900: His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg
Admiral of the Fleet The Rt Hon. Lord Louis 'Dickie' Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, ADC(P), FRS, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, 1st Viscount Mountbatten of Burma & 1st Baron Romsey, formerly HSH Prince Louis of Battenberg was born at 6am on 25th June 1900 at Frogmore House, on the Windsor Castle estate, Berkshire, England, the youngest child and second 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), a grandchild of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901). Mountbatten's parents decided that their son would not be known as 'Louis' to avoid the confusion of having father and son with the same forename, so it was initially decided that within the family he would be known as 'Nicky'. However his father's first cousin - Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (1868-1918) who had married Mountbatten's maternal aunt (Princess Alexandra 'Alix' of Hesse & By the Rhine (1872-1918), was known as 'Nicky' within the Royal Family and so to avoid further confusion, it was suggested that privately the baby be called 'Dickie' - which the family used all of his life.
Louis, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
The young baby Mountbatten, born a Prince of Battenberg with the qualification of Serene Highness, was christened on 17th July 1900 in the Drawing Room at Frogmore House itself, which was attended by the aged Queen-Empress (who took a personal interest in the christening of her latest god-son and great-grandson). The god-parents were - The Queen; Kaiser Wilhelm II, The Emperor of Germany & King of Prussia (1859-1941), who was represented by Mountbatten's father; and Prince Francis Joseph of Battenberg (1861-1924), represented by Lt-Col. Lord Edward Pelham-Clinton (1836-1907), the Master of the Royal Household. Due to the extreme hot weather, a bucket of ice had been placed under a chair to cool the room temperature as it was known that The Queen suffered from the heat. However, The Very Rev. Dr Philip Eliot (1835-1917), Dean of Windsor - who performed the christening, reportedly settled on the ice, chilled his legs and suffered from sciatica so severe that he would walk with a stick for the rest of his life. The Queen was by now looking frail, was half blind and unknowingly had only 6 months to live. Mountbatten's christening would be one of the last happy family occasions in which the Queen-Empress (now aged 81yrs) would preside. Despite her frailties and the heat of the day, she insisted on holding the child throughout the ceremony, during which he knocked the Queen-Empress' glasses off her nose, but she wrote in her diary that he was "a beautiful large child and behaved very well."
Baby Mountbatten in the arms of his
great-grandmother (and god-mother) -
Mountbatten's parents -
Prince & Princess Louis of Battenberg,
later The Marquess & Marchioness
of Milford Haven
Frogmore House, Windsor, Berkshire
In November 1900, The Battenbergs moved out of Frogmore House and took up residence at No.4 Hans Crescent in London's fashionable Knightsbridge and Mountbatten's father resumed his career in the Royal Navy. Mountbatten's father had joined the Royal Navy in 1868 following being made a naturalised British subject and rose through the ranks, being referred to by Admiral of the Fleet Sir John 'Jackie' Fisher, later 1st Lord Fisher (1841-1920) as the most capable administrator in the Admiralty's list by a long way. At the time of his birth, Mountbatten’s father held the rank of Captain, was a Naval Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to The Queen and was Assistant Director of the Naval Intelligence Division.
On 22nd January 1901, the aged Queen-Empress died at her beloved Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. She had been an important force in the life events of Prince & Princess Louis of Battenberg and Mountbatten's father was appointed an executor of The Queen's will, being trusted with her last wishes. However Prince Louis' influence at Court would be no less diminished in the new reign of 'Uncle Bertie' - King Edward VII (1841(1901-1910), who appointed Prince Louis his Naval Aide-de-Camp and continued to look favourably on The Battenbergs.
The Battenbergs decided in 1897 to have a permanent Lady-in-Waiting and Miss Nona Kerr (1875-1960) was engaged "to assist us in the education of our children" amongst her other duties. Miss Kerr was the youngest sister of Admiral Mark Kerr (1864-1944), a former shipmate of Prince Louis and a grand-daughter of Sir William Kerr, 6th Marquess of Lothian (1763-1824) and by 1902 she had become a reliable and helpful member of their household and was a close confidante to both Prince and Princess Louis of Battenberg. In 1915, Miss Kerr married Colonel Richard Crichton (1879-1962), the son of Colonel The Hon. Sir Henry Crichton (1844-1922), a former ADC to King Edward VII (1841(1901-1910). Her husband had been mentioned in dispatches and severely wounded during the Boer War and was also mentioned in dispatches no less than four times during World War I.
Mountbatten with his nieces -
Princess Margarita of Greece & Denmark
(later The Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg)
& Princess Theodora of Greece & Denmark
(later The Margravine of Baden),
sisters of Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh
BELOW: Mountbatten's preparatory school -
Lockers Park, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
Like many children of his social class, Mountbatten was educated at home (mostly by his well-educated mother) until the age of 10yrs. Mountbatten said that his mother "taught me to enjoy working hard and to be thorough." In May 1910, he was sent to boarding school at Lockers Park, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. The school was an orthodox preparatory school where he earned several nicknames such as 'Batter-pudding' and 'L.F.B.' using a parody of his initials and the abbreviation for the London Fire Brigade. At Lockers Park, Mountbatten won a reputation for excellence in the boxing ring, reaching the finals in the school’s tournament. In February 1911, he was struck down by an inflammation of the lungs and was visited frequently by his mother, who brought him a model destroyer to cheer him up. Even at this young age, Mountbatten was keen to follow his illustrious father and his elder brother - Prince George 'Georgie' of Battenberg, later 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven (1892-1938) into the Royal Navy.
Mountbatten in 1906 with his father -
Louis, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven,
onboard his flagship HMS Drake
In 1911, Mountbatten's father was appointed as Second Sea Lord and was responsible for pushing through many improvements in working conditions for enlisted men, but within a year in December 1912, Mountbatten's father was appointed to the post of First Sea Lord following the early retirement of Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman (1848-1929) due to ill health. This promotion would not only affect Prince Louis, but would shape the destiny of his youngest son. Mountbatten entered the Royal Naval College, Osborne on the Isle of Wight in May 1913 as a Naval Cadet, but as a cousin of The King, the son of the First Sea Lord and being of German descent - Mountbatten was subjected to bullying which he seemed to overcome. However, despite his clear abilities and allegiance to the British Crown especially with all the strategic preparations for an inevitable war against the German Empire, Mountbatten's father was resented and viewed with suspicion by growing anti-German hysteria which resulted in Prince Louis' resignation as First Sea Lord on 27th October 1914.
ABOVE LEFT: Mountbatten as a new Royal Naval Cadet in 1912,
standing beneath Admiralty Arch, London, underneath his father's official residence as First Sea Lord
ABOVE RIGHT: Mountbatten as a Royal Naval Cadet with his mother -
Princess Louis of Battenberg, later The Marchioness of Milford Haven
The young Mountbatten spent the Summer of 1913 with his sister Princess Andrew of Greece & Denmark, formerly Princess Alice of Battenberg (1885-1969) and whilst there the Tsar - Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (1868-1918), his wife Tsarina Alexandra 'Alix' Feodorovna, formerly Princess Alix of Hesse & By the Rhine (1872-1918) and their children. The Tsarina was the sister of Mountbatten's mother - his aunt. During this time, Mountbatten became somewhat besotted with Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna (1899-1918), who Mountbatten said later that he was "determined to marry her" to the extent that he kept a photograph of the Grand Duchess on his mantlepiece. Who would realise that within five years - not only the Romanov dynasty would loose their Throne, but Mountbatten's beautiful cousin, her siblings and parents would all be murdered at the hands of the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution.
Grand Duchess Maria
Nikolaevna of Russia
Mountbatten subsequently went to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and excelled at many sporting activities, but he broke his leg just before his final examinations and was forced to take them whilst in hospital and came 18th out of a class of 80. The unjust treatment of his father was to be a catalyst for Mountbatten's drive and success and his personal campaign to restore the honour of the Battenberg name - which in the eyes of many people had been tarnished by his German ancestry. In November 1914, The Battenbergs (living in more modest circumstances) retired to Kent House, East Cowes (near Osborne House) on the Isle of Wight, the former home of Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll (1848-1939), which Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) had purchased in 1864 and where Mountbatten would stay there whilst on leave.
The battlecruiser HMS Lion
HMS Lion's badge
The 1911 King George V
Mountbatten in 1916,
prior to joining HMS Lion
as a Midshipman
in the Royal Navy
Portrait of Admiral of the Fleet
The Rt Hon. Sir David Beatty,
1st Earl Beatty
by Sir Arthur S. Cope
Mountbatten became a Midshipman in 1916 and saw active service in World War I in the battlecruiser HMS Lion, the flagship of his personal hero - Admiral of the Fleet The Rt Hon. Sir David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty (1871-1936). Life for a young Midshipman at this time was not easy and Mountbatten himself later recalled the basic living conditions, being beaten and having no dedicated quarters, sleeping in a hammock. Mountbatten also proudly wore on his uniform the King George V Coronation Medal ribbon, which singled him out as many of his superiors (who had seen active service at the Battle of Jutland with no medals whatsoever). Mountbatten subsequently served on board HMS Queen Elizabeth and HM Submarine K6.