Edwina Mountbatten, Countess Mountbatten of Burma was born Edwina Cynthia Annette Ashley in 1901, the elder daughter of Wilfred William Ashley, later 1st Baron Mount Temple (of the 1932 creation), who was a Conservative Member of Parliament.
Paternally, Ashley descended from the Earls of Shaftesbury who had been ennobled as barons in 1661, and ranked as baronets since 1622. She was a great-granddaughter of the reformist 7th Earl of Shaftesbury through his younger son, The Hon. Evelyn Melbourne Ashley (1836–1907) and his wife, Sybella Farquhar (d. 1886), a granddaughter of the 6th Duke of Beaufort. From this cadet branch, the Ashley-Cooper peers would inherit the estates of Broadlands, and Classiebawn Castle in Sligo, Ireland.
Ashley's mother was Amalia Mary Maud Cassel (1879–1911), daughter of the international magnate Sir Ernest Joseph Cassel, friend and private financier to the future King Edward VII. Cassel was one of the richest and most powerful men in Europe. He lost his beloved wife (Annette Mary Maud Maxwell), for whom he had converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism. He also lost his only child, Amalia. He was then to leave the bulk of his vast fortune to Edwina, his elder granddaughter.
Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma; Jawaharlal Nehru; Edwina Cynthia Annette, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, by Henri Cartier-Bresson, bromide print, 1948, 13 7/8 in. x 9 3/8 in. (354 mm x 238 mm), Purchased, 1990, Primary Collection, NPG P434
Louis Mountbatten was a British political leader and naval officer, an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and second cousin once removed to Elizabeth II. The biography of Labour MP Tom Driberg, written by Francis Wheen, claims that — like Driberg — Mountbatten had "a sexual preference for men". Mountbatten has a lifelong devotion to Peter Murphy. Ziegler describes Murphy as "one of the very few men with whom Mountbatten felt totally secure," and mentions that Mountbatten supported Murphy with an annual allowance of £600 until his death in 1966.
After Ashley's father's re-marriage in 1914 to Molly Forbes-Sempill, she was sent away to boarding schools, first to The Links in Eastbourne, then to Alde House in Suffolk, at neither of which was she a willing pupil. Her grandfather, Sir Ernest, solved the domestic dilemma by inviting her to live with him and, eventually, to act as hostess at his London residence, Brooke House. Later, his other mansions, Moulton Paddocks and Branksome Dene, would become part of her Cassel inheritance.
By the time Lord Louis Mountbatten first met Edwina in 1920, she was a leading member of London society. Her grandfather died in 1921, leaving her £2 million (£77.4 million in today's pounds), the country seat of Broadlands, Hampshire and the palatial London townhouse, Brooke House, at a time when her future husband's naval salary was £610 per annum (£20 thousand in today pounds).
Ashley and Mountbatten were married on 18 July 1922 at St. Margaret's, Westminster. Louis Mountbatten's relatives, the British Royal Family, were all present. The then-Prince of Wales and future King Edward VIII served as the best man. The bridesmaids were the four daughters of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark - Princesses Margarita, Theodora, Sophie and Cecilie - with Miss Mary Ashley (sister of the bride), Miss Joan Pakenham (cousin of the bride), and Lady Mary Ashley-Cooper.
The Mountbattens had two daughters, Patricia (born 14 February 1924) and Pamela (born 19 April 1929).
Lady Mountbatten lived a fashionable and privileged life almost totally dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure—and indeed, took off on an extended period at sea during the mid-1930s, when for many months no one had any idea of her whereabouts. Publishers Weekly summarises the Janet Morgan biography of Lady Mountbatten: "Edwina Ashley wed Lord Louis ('Dickie') Mountbatten in 1922 at the age of 20, then embarked on two decades of frivolity. Not satisfied having two well-behaved daughters and an 'enthusiastic boy' of a husband, she took refuge in lovers and sparked scandals".
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Lady Mountbatten acquired a new purpose in life and devoted her considerable intelligence and energy to the service of others. She is especially remembered for her service in the post-Partition period of India, when five provinces were partitioned off as Pakistan as a result of a movement led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Lord and Lady Mountbatten served as the last Viceroy and Vicereine of pre-Partition India, after the British government gave him plenipotentiary power to arrange the independence of British India. After Partition, Lord Mountbatten remained briefly as the first of the two Governors-General of India. In 1950 the link with the monarchy was severed and India's governor general was replaced with a non-executive president.
Lady Mountbatten in all accounts of the violent disruption that followed the Partition of India is universally praised for her heroic efforts in relieving the misery. She continued to lead a life of service after her viceroyalty in India, including service for the St John Ambulance Brigade.
Catherine Clement, author of Edwina and Nehru: A Novel, stated in an interview with the Times of India that "Edwina in her letters to Lord Mountbatten has written that her relationship with Nehru was mostly platonic. Mostly, but not always". While Mountbatten's daughter, Pamela acknowledged the close relationship with Nehru, she maintained that the relationship was nonphysical.
Lady Mountbatten died in her sleep at age 58 of unknown causes in 1960 in Jesselton, British North Borneo while on an inspection tour for the St John Ambulance Brigade. In accordance with her wishes, Lord Mountbatten buried her at sea off the coast of Portsmouth from HMS Wakeful on 25 February 1960; Nehru sent two Indian destroyers to accompany her body; Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury, officiated.
Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt (August 23, 1904 – February 13, 1965) was a Swiss-born American socialite best known as the mother of fashion designer and artist Gloria Vanderbilt and maternal grandmother of television journalist Anderson Cooper. She was a central figure in Vanderbilt vs. Whitney, one of the most sensational American custody trials in the 20th century. (P: Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt (left) with her identical twin, Thelma, Viscountess Furness, in 1955)
Born at the Grand Hotel National in Lucerne, Switzerland, as Mercedes Morgan, she was a daughter of Henry Hays Morgan Sr (1860–1933), an American diplomat, who served as U.S. consul general in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Berlin, Germany; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Havana, Cuba; and Brussels, Belgium. Her mother was his second wife, the former Laura Delphine Kilpatrick (1877–1956); the couple was married in 1894 and divorced in 1927.
Her maternal grandfather, Hugh Judson Kilpatrick (1836–1881), was a Union Army general during the American Civil War who also served as the U.S. minister to Chile. Her maternal grandmother, Luisa Kilpatrick, née Valdivieso Araoz, was a member of a wealthy Spanish family that settled in Chile in the 17th century.
Morgan, who adopted the name Gloria as a teenager, had five siblings:
Laura Consuelo Morgan (17 December 1901 – 26 August 1979), aka Tamar. She married Count Jean de Maupas du Juglart, Ambassador Benjamin Thaw Jr., and Alfons B. Landa (né Alfonso Beaumont Howard Landa).
Thelma Morgan (1904–1970), her identical twin. She became a mistress of Edward, Prince of Wales and married James Vail Converse and Marmaduke Furness, 1st Viscount Furness.
Henry Hays Morgan Jr (1898–1983), who became a movie actor (stage names Harry Hayes Morgan and Harry Hays Morgan). He was married to Ivor Elizabeth O'Connor, Edith Churchill Gordon, and Sybil Robertina "Robin" Boyce Willys.
Constance Morgan (1887–1892), a half sister, a child of her father's first marriage to Mary E. Edgerton.
Gladys Morgan (14 September 1889–15 Aug 1958), another half sister from her father's first marriage; she was known as Margaret and married J. Henderson.
Nadejda de Torby, c. 1914
During the 1934 Gloria Vanderbilt custody trial, a former maid of Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt's offered testimony regarding a possible lesbian relationship between Nadejda Mountbatten, Marchioness of Milford Haven, and her former employer. And Nada and her sister-in-law, Edwina Mountbatten (wife of Lord Mountbatten), were extremely close friends and the two frequently went together on rather daring adventures, traveling rough in difficult and often dangerous parts of the world. Rumours surrounding the nature of their relationship abounded.
Gloria Morgan was educated by governesses and in convents in Europe as well as New York City, where she attended the Catholic Convent of the Sacred Heart (in the Manhattanville section of the city), the Skerton Finishing School, and Miss Nightingale's School. In October 1921, with their father's permission, Morgan and her sister Thelma, both reportedly 16 years of age, ended their schooling and moved by themselves into an apartment at 40 Fifth Avenue, a private townhouse. The sisters had some minor roles in silent movies, using the names Gloria and Thelma Rochelle. Their debuts were as extras in the 1922 Marion Davies vehicle The Young Diana.
Known as "The Magnificent Morgans", Gloria and Thelma Morgan were popular society fixtures, even as teenagers. British photographer Cecil Beaton described them as "alike as two magnolias, and with their marble complexions, raven tresses, and flowing dresses, with their slight lisps and foreign accents, they diffuse a Ouida atmosphere of hothouse elegance and lacy femininity. ... Their noses are like begonias, with full-blown nostrils, their lips richly carved, and they should have been painted by Sargent, with arrogant heads and affected hands, in white satin with a bowl of white peonies near by."
On 6 March 1923, in New York City, at the townhouse of friends, Gloria Morgan—then believed to be 17 years of age and having received the legal consent of her father to wed—became the second wife of Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, age 42, an heir to the Vanderbilt railroad fortune. On 20 February 1924, their only child, Gloria Laura, was born in New York City.
Reginald Vanderbilt died on 4 September 1925 of what was described in news reports as "a throat infection which had caused internal hemorhages". Following his death, his young widow became the administrator of a $2.5 million trust left to their daughter, Gloria, and spent the better part of the next six years living in Paris, Biarritz, and London, with her mother and child and often in the company of her sisters and brother, all of whom lived in France and England with their respective spouses.
The conditions of Vanderbilt's will and the custody of their child, however, were complicated by the general belief that his widow had not reached the legal age of majority, which meant that she herself required a guardian. Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt believed that she was 20, rather than 21, because her mother had long declared the twins' birth year as 1905 rather than 1904. The discrepancy was discovered upon an examination of the Morgan twins' childhood passports and their birth certificates during the Vanderbilt custody trial in 1934. No reason, however, was given as to the change of birth years. As Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt wrote in her 1936 memoirs, Without Prejudice (E P Dutton), "Had I not thought myself a minor at this time ... there would have been no necessity for a guardian for myself ... [or] for a legal guardian for my child's person .... On this untruth—irrevocable and irremediable—hinged the currents of my child's life and my own."
Influenced by reports from private detectives as well as family servants and Laura Morgan (who appears by all published accounts to have been somewhat emotionally and mentally unbalanced and who testified on Mrs. Whitney's side at the trial), members of the Vanderbilt family came to believe that Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt was a bad influence and neglectful of her daughter. A custody battle erupted that made national headlines in 1934. As a result of a great deal of hearsay evidence admitted at trial, the scandalous allegations of Vanderbilt's lifestyle—including a purported lesbian relationship with Nadezhda de Torby, the Marchioness of Milford Haven, and a brief engagement to HSH Gottfried, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (rumored to be a fortune-hunter)—led to a new standard in tabloid newspaper sensationalism.
Vanderbilt lost custody of her daughter to her sister-in-law Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Granted limited parental rights, Vanderbilt was allowed to see young Gloria on weekends in New York. The court also removed Vanderbilt as administrator of her daughter's trust fund, whose annual investment income had been her only source of support. Two years later, the custody issue was re-opened, giving her another chance to re-gain guardianship of her daughter. This time, the case was brought before the Supreme Court of the United States. The court declined to hear the matter and it once again came before the State of New York's Supreme Court. The result was an agreement that Gloria would spend more time with her mother than was previously granted. In 1946, the widow was once more in the news when her daughter announced she would no longer be paying her mother an annual $21,000 allowance. Saying that her mother was able to work and had done so in the past, Gloria Vanderbilt stated the annual allowance would now be given to a charity for blind and starving children.
From the 1940s until their deaths, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt and her sister Lady Furness lived together in New York City and in Los Angeles, California. They wrote a dual memoir called "Double Exposure: A Twin Autobiography (D McKay, 1958).
Mrs. Vanderbilt died in 1965 of cancer and was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Five years later, her sister Thelma died of a heart attack and was buried by her side.
In 1978, a New York City socialite and writer, Philip Van Rensselaer, wrote a book about Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt titled That Vanderbilt Woman.
Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt was portrayed by British actress Lucy Gutteridge in the 1982 television miniseries Little Gloria ... Happy at Last.
Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG GCB OM GCSI GCIE GCVO DSO PC FRS (born Prince Louis of Battenberg; 25 June 1900 – 27 August 1979) – known informally as Lord Mountbatten – was a British statesman and naval officer, an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and second cousin once removed to Elizabeth II. Mountbatten's lifelong devotion to James Victor "Peter" Murphy is said by Mountbatten's biographer, Philip Ziegler, to be despite Murphy's homosexuality rather than because of it. Ziegler nonetheless describes Murphy as "one of the very few men with whom Mountbatten felt totally secure," and mentions that Mountbatten supported Murphy with an annual allowance of £600 until his death in 1966.
Lord Mountbatten was the last Viceroy of India (1947) and the first Governor-General of the independent Union of India (1947–48), from which the modern Republic of India emerged in 1950. From 1954 until 1959 he was the 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.
In 1979 Mountbatten, along with three other people, including a grandson Nicholas, was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), who planted a bomb in his fishing boat, the Shadow V, at Mullaghmore, County Sligo, in Ireland.
Mountbatten was married on 18 July 1922 to Edwina Cynthia Annette Ashley, daughter of Wilfred William Ashley, later 1st Baron Mount Temple, himself a grandson of the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. She was the favourite granddaughter of the Edwardian magnate Sir Ernest Cassel and the principal heir to his fortune. There followed a glamorous honeymoon tour of European courts and America which included a visit to Niagara Falls (because "all honeymooners went there").
Mountbatten admitted "Edwina and I spent all our married lives getting into other people's beds." The biography of Labour MP Tom Driberg, written by Francis Wheen, claims that — like Driberg — Mountbatten had "a sexual preference for men".
Edwina and India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru became intimate friends after Indian Independence. During the summers, she would frequent the prime minister's house so she could lounge about on his veranda during the hot Delhi days. Personal correspondence between the two reveals a satisfying yet frustrating relationship. Edwina states in one of her letters "Nothing that we did or felt would ever be allowed to come between you and your work or me and mine – because that would spoil everything."
After training at the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, Lord Mountbatten entered Cambridge in 1919, where his education in Marxism took another step forward. While Mountbatten may have had contact with Bertrand Lord Russell and other famous communists on the Cambridge faculty , his most notorious liaison was with a student named James "Peter" Murphy, who would become his "private secretary" when Mountbatten held major defense posts. Philip Ziegler, in his 1985 biography, Mountbatten, states: "Murphy was distrusted by many of the officers who surrounded Mountbatten and it was frequently suggested that his influence was . . . damaging to the national interest. In 1952, he was denounced as a Communist agent. . . . Mountbatten felt that he had to ask the Security Service to investigate his friend." Their findings were no surprise to Mountbatten, who knew that, although Murphy was not a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, he was a Marxist and a homosexual.
Despite this, Mountbatten told journalists: "See Murphy if you want my views on the Soviet Union."
His intimate relationship with Murphy led to one of Mountbatten's more humorous exchanges with his wife. "Four different people," wrote Mountbatten, "have come to me in the last two or three days to say that London is buzzing with rumours . . . that I was to be offered an immediate post abroad so as to remove us from being able to influence Lilibet [Queen Elizabeth] through Philip .... There also was the view that I would be passing on extreme left-wing views from you!" To which Edwina replied, " ... How wicked! . .. Y ou always stress the point about my politics.. . .I have endless worryings about your links with people such as Peter and supposedly Communist sympathisers from many who appear to think I am Right Wing compared to you!"
Not only was Murphy a member of what the British Secret Intelligence Service then dubbed "the Homintern, " but Private Eye alleged in 1979 and 1980 issues that Mountbatten was as well.T his followed a 1975 article in the Daily Mirror linking Mountbatten to "a homosexual ring centred on the Life Guards' barracks in London." Lord Mountbatten's response that he spent his married life hopping in and out of bed with various mistresses hardly disproves the allegation.
Entire books have been written on the links between this Homintern and the Cambridge Apostles, advised by Lord Russell, and through which Sir Anthony Blunt (the future Adviser on the Queen's Drawings and Pictures) would recruit H.A .R ." Kim" Philby, Guy Burgess, et al.a s Soviet agents a decade later. All that is known of this Cambridge communist ring while Mountbatten was at the college, is that it had sufficient influence upon him that Lord Mountbatten, the future First Sea Lord and Chief of the Defence Staff, argued in the Junior Acton Club to have Britain's fleet turned over "lock, stock and barrel " to Robert Cecil's proposed League of Nations. (On Lord Mountbatten's education of England's Red Prince by Scott Thompson)
Nadejda Mikhailovna Mountbatten, Marchioness of Milford Haven (28 March 1896 – 22 January 1963) was the second daughter of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia and his morganatic wife Sophie, Countess von Merenberg. She was a younger sister of Countess Anastasia de Torby. (P: Countess Nada Torbay, between ca. 1910 and 1915 (©1))
Her paternal grandparents were Grand Duke Michael Nicolaievich of Russia and Princess Cecily of Baden. Michael was the seventh and last child of Nicholas I of Russia and Charlotte of Prussia. Her mother was a granddaughter of Aleksandr Pushkin, who in turn was a great-grandson of Peter the Great's African protégé, Abram Petrovich Gannibal.
Nicknamed "Nada," she married Prince George of Battenberg, later the 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, in London, England, on 15 November 1916. They had two children:
Lady Tatiana Elizabeth Mountbatten (16 December 1917 – 15 May 1988), who died unmarried.
David Mountbatten, 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven (12 May 1919 – 14 April 1970), father of the present Marquess.
During the 1934 Gloria Vanderbilt custody trial, a former maid of Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt's offered testimony regarding a possible lesbian relationship between Lady Milford Haven and her former employer. Lady Milford Haven also appeared as a witness at the trial. Before leaving for the United States to testify, Lady Milford Haven publicly denounced the maid's testimony as "a set of malicious, terrible lies".
From left to right: Nadja Michailovna, Michael Michailowitsch, Anastasia Michailovna and their father Michail Michailowitsch Romanow
Nada and her sister-in-law, Edwina Mountbatten (wife of Lord Mountbatten), were extremely close friends and the two frequently went together on rather daring adventures, traveling rough in difficult and often dangerous parts of the world. Rumours surrounding the nature of their relationship abounded.
Lady Milford Haven died in Cannes, France, in 1963.
Styles from birth to death:
Countess Nadejda Mikhailovna de Torby (1896–1916)
Her Serene Highness Princess George of Battenberg (1916–1917)
Mrs George Mountbatten (1917–1917)
Countess of Medina (1917–1921)
The Most Hon. The Marchioness of Milford Haven (1921–1950)
The Most Hon. The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven (1950–1963)
Following her death, a portion of her jewels surfaced with family members living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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