15 June 2017

Jewel History: Beautiful Patricia Mountbatten Weds Capt. Lord Brabourne (1946)

The late Countess Mountbatten of Burma on her wedding day

"Beautiful Patricia Mountbatten Weds Capt. Lord Brabourne"
(originally appeared in the Ottawa Journal, 28 Oct 1946)

Romsey, Hampshire, England, Oct. 27 -- Lovely Patricia Mountbatten [1], daughter of one of Britain's foremost warriors [2], was married Saturday to Capt. Lord Brabourne [3] in the splendor of Romsey's Norman Abbey, and afterward King and Commoner toasted the couple whose wedding gave this ancient town the finest fete in its history.

The service was performed in the presence of 1,300 persons, ranging from farm and domestic employees of the two families to generals who had served under Viscount Mountbatten in Asia, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Winchester and two other clergymen.

The 22-year-old bride, a Wren officer during the war, was attended by Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, Princess Alexandra, daughter of the Duchess of Kent, and her sister, Pamela. She wore a gown fashioned from Indian silver-gold brocade [4]. The bridesmaids wore satiny blue.

The King attended in the uniform of an Admiral and the Queen was in silver grey, with silver fox furs and hat trimmed with ostrich feathers [5]. Viscount Mountbatten likewise wore his admiral's uniform.

The bridegroom was in the garb of his Coldstream Guards regiment.

Prince Philip of Greece was conspicuous in his navy livery [6].

Despite cold, rainy weather, all except the bride and her father, who arrived in an automobile, walked a considerable distance to and from the church, returning with smiles and nods the cheers and handwavings of crowds who waited along the way for many hours.

The bridesmaids' trains soaked up water and mud, but there was no faltering in the procession. Inside the Abbey nine-year-old Princess Alexandra sought impulsively to straighten the folds of one soiled train, but was admonished by Lord Mountbatten with the slight lift of a finger.

After the services two receptions were held, the first at Broadlands, Mountbatten home just outside town, where the King raised a glass of champagne to the bride and bridegroom, and the second in Romsey's community hall, in which were gathered gift-bearing tenants from the Mountbatten estates and from those of the bridegroom's family in neighboring Kent.

Friends said the couple would honeymoon on the continent, travelling by car, but withheld the itinerary. A report that the two would sail for the United States in the Aquitania was denied officially.

Many persons noted pointedly the absence of the Duke of Windsor, Patricia's godfather [7] and one of the Mountbattens' intimates before he relinquished his kingdom to marry Mrs. Wallis Simpson. They interpreted this as further indication of the royal family's unwillingness to raise embarrassing social questions, and as a re-emphasis of the Duke's position that his wife must be accepted on his terms -- with a title of Royal Highness for her and all the precedence that goes with it.


1. Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma (1924-2017) was the elder daughter of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and his wife, Edwina Ashley. She married John Knatchbull, 7th Baron Brabourne on October 26, 1946; they were a rare aristocratic couple who each held peerages in their own right. Patricia served in the Women's Royal Naval Service in World War II, and met her husband, who was one of her father's aides, during her time serving in Asia. Both John and Patricia survived the IRA bombing in 1979 that killed her father, his mother, and one of their sons. She was a first cousin of the Duke of Edinburgh and a godmother to Prince Charles. She died on Tuesday at the age of 93.

2. Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900-1979), born Prince Louis of Battenberg. (He had just been created Viscount Mountbatten of Burma at the time of this wedding; he was upgraded to Earl Mountbatten the following year.) Lord Mountbatten was a titanic figure in the British royal world of the twentieth century, with family connections that tied him to several reigning royal families. His great-grandparents were Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; his aunts included Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna of Russia; and his siblings were the Marquess of Milford Haven, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and Queen Louise of Sweden. He had a brilliant career in the Royal Navy, rising to the rank of First Sea Lord, and served as the last Viceroy of India. He was an influential figure in the lives of his nephew, the Duke of Edinburgh, and his great-nephew, Prince Charles. He was killed in an IRA bombing in 1979.

3. John Knatchbull, 7th Baron Brabourne (1924-2005) was the husband of Countess Mountbatten. Lord Brabourne served in the Coldstream Guards during the war, and later became a noted film and television producer. He survived the IRA bombing that killed his father-in-law, his mother, and one of his sons in 1979. He died in 2005, and his son, Norton, became the 8th Baron Brabourne. After Patricia's funeral, Norton will also become the 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

4. Patricia also wore a diamond and pearl star tiara with her wedding ensemble. The tiara is a family heirloom, given to the Marchioness of Milford Haven (Patricia's grandmother), by her godmother, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. The tiara was meant to replace an earlier star tiara, which had been lost in Russia during World War I. By the time of this wedding, the tiara was owned by Patricia's mother, Edwina. Today, it still belongs to Patricia's family.

5. At the time of this wedding, the reigning king and queen were King George VI (1895-1952) and Queen Elizabeth (1900-2002) of the United Kingdom, parents of the present Queen.

6. Prince Philip, who was a first cousin of the bride, wasn't only conspicuous because of his naval livery. As you can see in the moving image above, newsreel cameras caught him in close conversation with Princess Elizabeth, and rumors of a royal romance began to swirl. The couple announced their engagement a few months later, and they were married the following November.

7. Lady Mountbatten had five godparents: the Duke of Windsor (then Prince of Wales); Queen Louise of Sweden (her paternal aunt, then Crown Princess of Sweden; she was represented at the christening by the Countess of Brecknock); Lady Patricia Ramsay; Lady Margaret Lindsay; and Ruth Mary Ashley (her maternal aunt).