Patricia Edwina Victoria Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma, CBE, MSC, CD, JP, DL (born 14 February 1924) is a British peeress and former lady-in-waiting to her third cousin, Queen Elizabeth II. She was the elder daughter of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and his wife, the heiress Edwina Ashley, a patrilineal descendant of the Earls of Shaftesbury, first ennobled in 1661. She is the elder sister of Lady Pamela Hicks, and first cousin to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Patricia Mountbatten succeeded her father when he was assassinated in 1979, as his peerages had been created by the Crown with special remainder to his daughters and their heirs male. This inheritance accorded her the title of countess and a seat in the House of Lords, where she remained until 1999, when the House of Lords Act 1999 removed most hereditary peers from the House.
Marriage and children
On 26 October 1946 she married John Knatchbull, 7th Baron Brabourne (9 November 1924 – 23 September 2005), at the time an aide to her father in the Far East. Later they became one of the few married couples each of whom held a peerage in their own right, and whose descendants are slated to inherit titles through both. They had eight children:
Norton Louis Philip Knatchbull, 8th Baron Brabourne (born 8 October 1947), married Penelope Eastwood (born 16 April 1953) and had issue.
The Hon. Michael-John Ulick Knatchbull (born 24 May 1950), married Melissa Clare Owen (born 12 November 1960) on 1 June 1985 and had one daughter; divorced in 1997. Married Susan Penelope Jane Coates (born 23 October 1959) on 6 March 1999 and had one daughter.
The Hon. Anthony Knatchbull (born and died 6 April 1952)
Lady Joanna Edwina Doreen Knatchbull (born 5 March 1955), married Baron Hubert Pernot du Breuil (2 February 1956 – 6 September 2004) on 3 November 1984 and had one daughter; divorced in 1995; married Azriel Zuckerman (born 18 January 1943) on 19 November 1995 and had one son.
Lady Amanda Patricia Victoria Knatchbull (born 26 June 1957), married Charles Vincent Ellingworth (born 7 February 1957) on 31 October 1987 and had three sons.
The Hon. Philip Wyndham Ashley Knatchbull (born 2 December 1961), married Atalanta Cowan (born 20 June 1962) on 16 March 1991 and had one daughter; married Wendy Amanda Leach (born 20 July 1966) on 29 June 2002 and had two sons.
The Hon. Nicholas Timothy Charles Knatchbull (18 November 1964 – 27 August 1979), murdered, aged 14, by an IRA bomb.
The Hon. Timothy Nicholas Sean Knatchbull (born 18 November 1964), married Isabella Julia Norman (born 9 January 1971), a great-great-granddaughter of the 4th Earl of Bradford, on 11 July 1998 and had two sons and three daughters.
Lady Mountbatten was educated in Malta, England and New York. In 1943, at age 19, she entered the Women's Royal Naval Service as a Signal Rating and served in Combined Operations bases in the UK until being commissioned as a third officer in 1945 and serving in the Supreme Allied Headquarters, South East Asia. This is where she met Lord Brabourne, who was an aide to her father. In 1973 was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Kent; she is also a serving magistrate and is involved with numerous service organisations including SOS Children's Villages UK, of which she is Patron; the Order of St John, of which she is a Dame; and the Countess Mountbatten's Own Legion of Frontiersmen of the Commonwealth, of which she is Patron.
On 15 June 1974 she succeeded her cousin Lady Patricia Ramsay, formerly HRH Princess Patricia of Connaught, as Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, for whom the regiment was named when Princess Patricia's father, the Duke of Connaught, was Governor General of Canada during the First World War. Despite her succeeding to an earldom in her own right as Countess Mountbatten of Burma on the death of her father in 1979, she preferred that the officers and men of her regiment address her as Lady Patricia. She was succeeded by The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson on 17 March 2007. On 28 August 2007, the Governor General of Canada presented her with the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross for her services as Colonel-in-Chief of the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry.
Lady Brabourne was in the boat which was blown up by the IRA off the shores of Sligo in August 1979, killing her fourteen-year-old son Nicholas; her father; her mother-in-law, the Dowager Baroness Brabourne; and fifteen-year-old Paul Maxwell, a boat-boy from County Fermanagh. She, her husband, and their son Timothy were injured but survived the attack.
As Lady Brabourne during her father's lifetime, her immediate family became closely involved in the consideration of a future consort for her first cousin once-removed, Charles, Prince of Wales. Not only is Prince Charles the heir apparent to the thrones of the Commonwealth realms, a marriage was also expected to raise future monarchs. Consequently his choice of a wife would be bound to generate immense popular interest and close media scrutiny. In particular the reputation of the bride would be of major importance, in addition to his mother's authorisation under the Royal Marriages Act 1772. Charles was given written advice on dating and the selection of a future consort from his father's "Uncle Dickie", who was also Lady Brabourne's father, "In a case like yours, the man should sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can before settling down, but for a wife he should choose a suitable, attractive, and sweet-charactered girl before she has met anyone else she might fall for... It is disturbing for women to have experiences if they have to remain on a pedestal after marriage." In early 1974, Lord Mountbatten began corresponding with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip's eldest son about a potential marriage to Lady Brabourne's daughter, Amanda. and recommended that the 25-year-old prince get done with his bachelor's experimentation. Charles dutifully wrote to Lady Brabourne (who was also his godmother), about his interest in her daughter, to which she replied approvingly, though suggesting that a courtship was premature.
This did not daunt Mountbatten, who, four years later, obtained an invitation for himself and Amanda to accompany Prince Charles on his 1980 tour of India. Both fathers, however, objected; Prince Philip complaining that the Prince of Wales would be eclipsed by his famous uncle (who had served as the last British Viceroy and first Governor-General of India), while Lord Brabourne warned that a joint visit would rivet media attention on the cousins before they could decide on becoming a couple, thereby potentially dashing the very prospect for which Mountbatten hoped. However, by the time Charles went and returned, alone, from his tour of India, circumstances had tragically changed: Although Prince Charles proposed to Amanda in early 1980, she now recoiled from the prospect of becoming a core member of the Royal Family. In June 1980 Charles officially turned down Chevening House, placed at his disposal since 1974, as his future residence. Chevening, a stately home in Kent, was bequeathed, along with an endowment, to the Crown by the last Earl Stanhope, Amanda's childless great-uncle, in the hope that Charles would eventually occupy it. Weeks later, Prince Charles purchased Highgrove House as a future residence, and commenced courtship of Lady Diana Spencer.
Although the Queen offered the Prince of Wales no direct counsel during that period, his kinsman and friend Norton Knatchbull, now Lord Brabourne, and his wife, Penny, did. But the prince was angered by their objections that he did not seem in love with Lady Diana and that she seemed too awestruck by his position. Meanwhile, the couple continued dating, amidst constant press speculation and paparazzi coverage. When Prince Philip told him that the intrusive media attention would injure her reputation if he did not come to a decision about marrying her soon, and realising that Lady Diana met the Mountbatten criteria (and, apparently, the public's) for a proper royal bride, Charles construed his father's advice as a warning to proceed without further delay, and proposed marriage.
In October 2009 TCF Canada Inc. presented the Countess with a portrait of herself by the noted Canadian artist Christian Cardell Corbet of which the oil sketch resides into the Canadian Portrait Academy Permanent Collection.
Titles and honours
Miss Patricia Mountbatten (14 February 1924 – 23 August 1946)
The Hon. Patricia Mountbatten (23 August 1946 – 26 October 1946)
The Rt Hon. The Lady Brabourne (26 October 1946 – 27 August 1979)
The Rt Hon. The Countess Mountbatten of Burma (27 August 1979 – present)
Patricia Mountbatten was born the daughter of a younger son of a marquess and thus had no courtesy title. She became the daughter of a peer (when her father was created a viscount), and thus obtained the courtesy prefix Honourable. When she married a baron, she obtained her husband's precedence, which happened to be higher than that of a viscount's daughter. But when her father was raised to an earldom her precedence remained the same, because the higher courtesy rank of an earl's daughter cannot be claimed by the wife of a man who ranks as a peer in his own right. When her father died and she succeeded him as countess by special remainder, Patricia Mountbatten became a peeress in her own right. Since her peerage was higher than her husband's, she was entitled to enjoy its higher title and precedence. By contrast, her younger sister outranked her husband from August 1946 to August 1979 because when a peer's daughter marries a commoner rather than a peer, she is allowed to retain the rank derived from her parent.
Dame of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (DStJ)
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Meritorious Service Cross (MSC)
Canadian Forces Decoration (CD)
The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4th Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry)
Countess Mountbatten's Own Legion of Frontiersmen of the Commonwealth
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (formerly, now Adrienne Clarkson)