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Personal Life

Earl Mountbatten admitted “Edwina and I spent all our married lives getting into other people’s beds.” He maintained an affair for several years with Yola Letellier, the wife of Henri Letellier, publisher of Le Journal and mayor of Deauville (1925–28). Yola Letellier’s life story was the inspiration for Colette’s novel Gigi.

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Yola Letellier

After Edwina’s death in 1960, Mountbatten was involved in relationships with young women, according to his daughter Patricia, his secretary John Barratt, his valet Bill Evans and William Stadiem, an employee of Madame Claude.

Sexuality

Ron Perks, Mountbatten’s driver in Malta in 1948, alleged that he used to visit the Red House, a gay brothel in Rabat. Andrew Lownie, a Royal Historical Society fellow, wrote that the FBI maintained files regarding Mountbatten’s alleged homosexuality. He also interviewed several young men who claimed to have been in a relationship with him. Barratt has denied Mountbatten was a homosexual, claiming it would be impossible for such a fact to be hidden from him.

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Earl Mountbatten and The Duke of Edinburgh

Allegations of sexual abuse

The FBI file on Mountbatten, began after he took on the role of Supreme Allied Commander in Southeast Asia in 1944, contains a claim by American author Elizabeth Wharton Drexel that Mountbatten had “a perversion for young boys”. Norman Nield, Mountbatten’s driver from 1942–43, told the tabloid New Zealand Truth that he transported young boys aged 8 to 12 and was paid to keep quiet. Robin Bryans had also claimed to the Irish magazine Now that he and Anthony Blunt, along with others, were part of a ring that engaged in homosexual orgies and procured boys in their first year at public schools such as the Portora Royal School in Enniskillen.

Several former residents of the Kincora Boys’ Home in Belfast have asserted that they were trafficked to Mountbatten at his residence in Mullaghmore, County Sligo. These claims were dismissed at the time. A recent book detailing the Irish magazine Village’s investigation asserts that Mountbatten was the most high-profile member of an extensive British-Irish child rape network.

Career After India

From 1954 to 1959, Mountbatten was First Sea Lord, a position that had been held by his father, Prince Louis of Battenberg, some forty years earlier. Thereafter he served as chief of the Defence Staff until 1965, making him the longest-serving professional head of the British Armed Forces to date. During this period Mountbatten also served as chairman of the NATO Military Committee for a year.

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In the Suez Crisis of 1956, Mountbatten strongly advised his old friend Prime Minister Anthony Eden against the Conservative government’s plans to seize the Suez canal in conjunction with France and Israel. He argued that such a move would destabilize the Middle East, undermine the authority of the United Nations, divide the Commonwealth and diminish Britain’s global standing. His advice was not taken. Eden insisted that Mountbatten not resign. Instead he worked hard to prepare the Royal Navy for war with characteristic professionalism and thoroughness.

Death

On August 27, 1979, Mountbatten went lobster-potting and tuna fishing in his 30-foot (9.1 m) wooden boat, Shadow V, which had been moored in the harbour at Mullaghmore. IRA member Thomas McMahon had slipped onto the unguarded boat that night and attached a radio-controlled bomb weighing 50 pounds (23 kg). When Mountbatten and his party had brought the boat just a few hundred yards from the shore, the bomb was detonated. The boat was destroyed by the force of the blast, and Mountbatten’s legs were almost blown off. Mountbatten, then aged 79, was pulled alive from the water by nearby fishermen, but died from his injuries before being brought to shore.

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Also aboard the boat were his elder daughter Patricia, Lady Brabourne; her husband Lord Brabourne; their twin sons Nicholas and Timothy Knatchbull; Lord Brabourne’s mother Doreen, Dowager Lady Brabourne; and Paul Maxwell, a young crew member from Enniskillen in County Fermanagh. Nicholas (aged 14) and Paul (aged 15) were killed by the blast and the others were seriously injured. Doreen, Dowager Lady Brabourne (aged 83), died from her injuries the following day.

The attack triggered outrage and condemnation around the world. The Queen received messages of condolence from leaders including American President Jimmy Carter and Pope John Paul II. Carter expressed his “profound sadness” at the death.

Daughter as heir

Lord and Lady Mountbatten had two daughters: Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma (14 February 1924 – 13 June 2017), sometime lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II, and Lady Pamela Hicks (born 19 April 1929), who accompanied them to India in 1947–1948 and was also sometime lady-in-waiting to the Queen.

Since Mountbatten had no sons when he was created Viscount Mountbatten of Burma, of Romsey in the County of Southampton on August 27, 1946 and then Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Baron Romsey, in the County of Southampton on October 28, 1947, the Letters Patent were drafted such that in the event he left no sons or issue in the male line, the titles could pass to his daughters, in order of seniority of birth, and to their male heirs respectively.