The Final Years
One of Mountbatten’s greatest pride and joy in retirement was the creation of the United World Colleges (UWC), which brought students from across the world together, regardless of their creed, colour, nationality etc. In 1962, the Atlantic College of St Donat’s Castle, located in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales was founded where discussion between former enemies was encouraged in an effort to transmit a spirit of mutual understanding to young people to help them overcome prejudice and antagonism through living and working together. Under Mountbatten’s Presidency (from 1967) new Colleges were founded in order to give more people access to the UWC system. In 1971, the United World College of South East Asia was established in Singapore, followed by the UWC of the Pacific in Canada in 1974. In 1978, Mountbatten was succeeded as President of the International Council of the UWC by his great-nephew - Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales (b.1948) and Mountbatten was subsequently appointed Life Patron.
Mountbatten & The Duchess of Windsor
following her arrival at London Airport for her husband's funeral
The Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 1977 -
(left to right): Princess Anne, Mountbatten, Captain Mark Phillips,
Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh
on the balcony at Buckingham Palace
ABOVE & BELOW: Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales
& Mountbatten at the official opening of Broadlands to the public
On 28th May 1972, Mountbatten's cousin 'David' - Prince Edward, The Duke of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII (1894(1936)1972) died at his home in Paris, France. The 'greatest love affair of the 20th Century'
had come to an end. Mountbatten was asked by the BBC to make a public tribute. Mountbatten said of him - "he was more than my best man, he was my best friend all my life... Nobody who knew him then [whilst Prince of Wales] can ever forget him." Mountbatten was charged with meeting at the airport the former King's widow, who had been invited to stay at Buckingham Palace for the funeral. Mountbatten accompanied the aged Duchess to St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle - where his cousin's body had been Laying-in-State.
Prior to the Duke's death, Mountbatten had campaigned openly for many Royal treasures held by The Duke & Duchess of Windsor to be returned to Royal Family upon their death, which angered them greatly. However, following the Duke's death Mountbatten suggested establishing a charitable foundation in the Duke's honour and volunteered to be executor of the Duke's will, which his widow declined. The Duchess treated Mountbatten with suspicion and finally in 1974 asked Mountbatten (politely but firmly) to stop contact with her as she found his constant 'offers of advice' distressing.
1977 saw the year of the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952- ), with street parties and celebrations throughout the country. On 7th June 1977, The Queen and the whole Royal Family attended a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Mountbatten joined The Queen and other members of the Royal Family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. Mountbatten - who was born in the reign of his great-grandmother, Queen Victoria (1819)1837-1901) was now standing next to her great-great grand-daughter who herself was celebrating 25 years on the Throne.
As old age fell upon Mountbatten, he did reduce his charitable works and it was thought that at last Mountbatten would spend more time at a slower pace at his beloved Broadlands, but 1978 brought the idea of opening Broadlands to the public, which in true Mountbatten style was a project that he threw himself into. He personally oversaw everything fully in his own inimitable style and on 19th May 1979 - Broadlands was officially opened by Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales (b.1948), who saw Mountbatten as his 'honorary Grandfather'.
Over the last few years of his life, Mountbatten strengthened his 50 year friendship with romantic novelist Dame Barbara Cartland (1901-2000). They met at least once a week, staying at their respective estates and she even managed to convert him to her diet of vitamins. Mountbatten helped Dame Barbara with the authenticity of the sea scenes and naval background of her novel “Love At The Helm”. The book was published in 1980 after his death with royalties being donated to The Mountbatten Memorial Trust in his honour. Following being kissed on the cheek by Mountbatten in 1948 at the height of his 'legend in his own lifetime status', Dame Barbara said - "a streak of fire ran through me as if I had been struck by lightning". Her personal admiration had not diminished over the years and upon Mountbatten’s death Cartland would state that his death was “the greatest sadness of my life.”
Interestingly Dame Barbara’s daughter Raine McCorquodale, later Countess of Dartmouth (1929-2016) married in 1976 (as his second wife) Edward 'Johnnie' Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer (1924-1992), the father of The Lady Diana Spencer, later 'Diana, Princess of Wales' (1961-1997) who married Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales (b.1948) in 1981 and who tragically was killed in 1997 in a motoring accident in Paris, France.