Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma

Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Admiral of the Fleet The Right Honourable
The Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Governor General of India
In office
15 August 1947 – 21 June 1948
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
Preceded by Himself (Viceroy of India)
Succeeded by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari
Viceroy of India
In office
12 February 1947 – 15 August 1947
Monarch George VI
Preceded by The Viscount Wavell
Succeeded by Himself (Governor General of India)
Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Governor General of Pakistan)
Chief of the Defence Staff
In office
13 July 1959 – 16 July 1965
Preceded by William Dickson
Succeeded by Richard Hull
Personal details
Born 25 June 1900(1900-06-25)
Windsor, United Kingdom
Died 27 August 1979(1979-08-27) (aged 79)
Mullaghmore, Ireland
Spouse(s) Edwina Ashley
Children Patricia
Alma mater Christ's College, Cambridge
Profession Admiral of the Fleet
Religion Anglicanism

Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas George 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), was a British statesman and naval officer, and an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (the husband of Elizabeth II). He 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 would emerge 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. In 1979 Mountbatten 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 the Republic of Ireland.[1] He was one of the most influential and controversial figures in the decline of the British Empire in the mid to late 20th century.



Lord Mountbatten was born as His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg, although his German styles and titles were dropped in 1917. He was the youngest child and the second son of Prince Louis of Battenberg and his wife Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine. His maternal grandparents were Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, who was a daughter of Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort. His paternal grandparents were Prince Alexander of Hesse and Princess Julia of Battenberg. His paternal grandparents' marriage was morganatic, because his grandmother was not of royal lineage; as a result, he and his father were styled "Serene Highness" rather than "Grand Ducal Highness", were not eligible to be titled Princes of Hesse and were given the less desirable Battenberg title. His siblings were Princess Alice of Greece and Denmark (mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), Queen Louise of Sweden, and George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven.[2]

His father's forty-five year Naval career reached its pinnacle in 1912 when he was appointed as First Sea Lord in the Admiralty. However, two years later in 1914, due to the growing anti-German sentiments that swept across Europe during the first few months of World War I, Prince Louis was removed from his position and publicly humiliated by King George V, and Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill. Though both men professed 'sadness' at having to do this, private conversations and letters show them both perfectly happy to sacrifice their "blue-eyed German". [3] This forced retirement of his father was devastating to Louis. In 1917, when the Royal Family stopped using their German names and titles and adopted the more British-sounding "Windsor", Prince Louis of Battenberg became Louis Mountbatten, and was created Marquess of Milford Haven. His second son acquired the courtesy title Lord Louis Mountbatten and was known as Lord Louis informally until his death notwithstanding his being granted a viscountcy in recognition of his wartime service in the Far East and an earldom for his role in the transition of India from British dependency to sovereign state.

Early life

Mountbatten was home schooled for the first ten years of his life. He was then sent to Lockers Park School in Hertfordshire and finally he followed his older brother to the Naval Cadet School. In childhood he visited the Imperial Court of Russia at St Petersburg and became intimate with the doomed Russian Imperial Family, harbouring romantic feelings towards Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, whose photograph he kept at his bedside for the rest of his life.


The Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Nickname Dickie
Born 25 June 1900
Frogmore House, Windsor, Berkshire
Died 27 August 1979
Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Republic of Ireland
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1913-1965
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands held HMS Daring (1934)
HMS Wishart (1934-1936)
HMS Kelly (1939-1941)
HMS Illustrious (Aug.-Oct 1941)
Chief of Combined Operations (1941-1943)
Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command (1943-1946)
Commander, cruiser squadron, Mediterranean Fleet (1948-1950)
Fourth Sea Lord (1950-1952)
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet (1952-1954)
First Sea Lord (1955-1959)
Chief of the Defence Staff (1959-1965)
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight of the Garter
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of Merit
Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India
Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Distinguished Service Order
Other work Viceroy of India (1947)
Governor-General of India (1947-1948)

Early career

Lord Mountbatten served in the Royal Navy as a midshipman during World War I. After his service, he attended Christ's College, Cambridge for two terms where he studied engineering in a programme that was specially designed for ex-servicemen. During his time at Cambridge, Mountbatten had to balance his studies with the robust social life he enjoyed as a member of Christ's College. In 1922, Mountbatten accompanied Edward, Prince of Wales, on a royal tour of India. It was during this trip that he met and proposed to his wife-to-be Edwina Ashley. They were wed on 18 July 1922. Edward and Mountbatten formed a close friendship during the trip but their bond deteriorated during the Abdication Crisis. Mountbatten's loyalties between the wider Royal Family and the throne, on the one hand, and the then-King, on the other, were tested. Mountbatten came down firmly on the side of Prince Albert, the Duke of York, who was to assume the throne as George VI in his brother's place.

Pursuing his interests in technological development and gadgetry, Mountbatten joined the Portsmouth Signal School in 1924 and then went on to briefly study electronics at Greenwich before returning to military service. Mountbatten was a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), now the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), which annually awards the Mountbatten Medal for an outstanding contribution, or contributions over a period, to the promotion of electronics or information technology and their application.[4]

In 1926, Mountbatten was appointed to Assistant Fleet Wireless and Signals Officer of the Mediterranean Fleet under the command of Admiral Sir Roger Keyes. Lord Mountbatten returned to the Signal School in 1929 as Senior Wireless Instructor. In 1931, he was again called back to military service when he was appointed Fleet Wireless Officer to the Mediterranean Fleet. It was during this time that he founded a Signal School in Malta and became acquainted with all the radio operators in the fleet.

In 1934, Mountbatten was appointed to his first command. His ship was a new destroyer which he was to sail to Singapore and exchange for an older ship. He successfully brought the older ship back to port in Malta. By 1936, Mountbatten had been appointed to the Admiralty at Whitehall as a member of the Fleet Air Arm.[5]


In the late 1930s Mountbatten was issued his 2nd Patent (UK Number 508,956) for a system for maintaining a warship in a fixed position relative to another ship.[6]

Second World War

When war broke out in 1939, Mountbatten was moved to active service as commander of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla from aboard his ship the HMS Kelly, which was famous for its many daring exploits.[5] In early May 1940, Mountbatten led a British convoy in through the fog to evacuate the Allied forces participating in the Namsos Campaign. It was also in 1940 that he invented the Mountbatten Pink naval camouflage pigment. His ship was sunk in May 23, 1941 during the Battle of Crete.

In August 1941 Mountbatten was appointed captain of HMS Illustrious which lay in Norfolk, Virginia for repairs following action at Malta in the Mediterranean in January. During this period of relative inactivity he paid a flying visit to Pearl Harbor, where he was not impressed with the poor state of readiness and a general lack of co-operation between the US Navy and US Army, including the absence of a joint HQ.

Mountbatten was a favourite of Winston Churchill (although after 1948 Churchill never spoke to him again since he was famously annoyed with Mountbatten's later role in the independence of India and Pakistan), and on 27 October 1941 Mountbatten replaced Roger Keyes as Chief of Combined Operations. His duties in this role consisted of planning commando raids across the English Channel and inventing new technical aids to assist with opposed landings.[5] Mountbatten was in large part responsible for the planning and organization of The Raid at St. Nazaire in mid 1942: an operation resulting in disuse of one of the most heavily defended docks in Nazi-occupied France until well after war's end, the ramifications of which greatly contributed to allied supremacy in the Battle of the Atlantic. He personally pushed through the disastrous Dieppe Raid of 19 August 1942 (which certain elements of the Allied military, notably Field Marshal Montgomery, later claimed was ill-conceived from the start. However at a meeting in the US early in 1942, when it was decided that the port of Dieppe would not be heavily bombed before the raid because doing so would block the streets, Montgomery, who was chairing the meeting, said nothing).[citation needed] The raid on Dieppe was widely considered to be a disaster, with casualties (including those wounded and/or taken prisoner) numbering in the thousands, the great majority of them Canadians. Historian Brian Loring Villa concluded that Mountbatten conducted the raid without authority, but that his intention to do so was known to several of his superiors, who took no action to stop him.[7] Three noteworthy technical achievements of Mountbatten and his staff include: (1) the construction of an underwater oil pipeline from the English coast to Normandy, (2) an artificial harbor constructed of concrete caissons and sunken ships, and (3) the development of amphibious Tank-Landing Ships.[5] Another project that Mountbatten proposed to Churchill was Project Habakkuk. It was to be a massive and impregnable 600 meter aircraft carrier made from reinforced ice or "Pykrete." Habakkuk never was actualised due to its enormous price tag.[5]

Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander, seen during his tour of the Arakan Front in February 1944.

Mountbatten claimed that the lessons learned from the Dieppe Raid were necessary for planning the Normandy invasion on D-Day nearly two years later. However, military historians such as former Royal Marine Julian Thompson have written that these lessons should not have needed a debacle such as Dieppe to be recognised.[8] Nevertheless, as a direct result of the failings of the Dieppe raid, the British made several innovations - most notably Hobart's Funnies - innovations which, in the course of the Normandy Landings, undoubtedly saved many lives on those three beach heads upon which Commonwealth soldiers were landing (Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and Sword Beach).[citation needed][original research?]

As a result of the Dieppe raid, Mountbatten became a controversial figure in Canada,[9] with the Royal Canadian Legion distancing itself from him during his visits there during his later career; his relations with Canadian veterans "remained frosty".[10] Nevertheless, a Royal Canadian Sea Cadet corps (RCSCC #134 Admiral Mountbatten in Sudbury, Ontario) was named after him in 1946.

In October 1943, Churchill appointed Mountbatten the Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command. His less practical ideas were sidelined by an experienced planning staff led by Lt-Col. James Allason, though some, such as a proposal to launch an amphibious assault near Rangoon, got as far as Churchill before being quashed.[11] He would hold the post until the South East Asia Command (SEAC) was disbanded in 1946.

During his time as Supreme Allied Commander of the Southeast Asia Theatre, his command oversaw the recapture of Burma from the Japanese by General William Slim. His diplomatic handling of General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell -- his deputy and also the officer commanding the American China Burma India Theatre -- and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalist forces, was as gifted as that of General Eisenhower with General Montgomery and Winston Churchill.[citation needed] A personal high point was the reception of the Japanese surrender in Singapore when British troops returned to the island to receive the formal surrender of Japanese forces in the region led by General Itagaki Seishiro on 12 September 1945, codenamed Operation Tiderace.

Last Viceroy

His experience in the region and in particular his perceived Labour sympathies at that time led to Clement Attlee appointing him Viceroy of India after the war, charged with overseeing the transition of British India to independence no later than 1948. Mountbatten's instructions emphasised a united India as a result of the transference of power but authorised him to adapt to a changing situation in order to get Britain out promptly with minimal reputational damage.[12] These priorities in turn affected the way negotiations took place when independence was discussed, especially between divided parties of Hindus and Muslims.

Mountbatten was fond of Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru and his liberal outlook for the country. He felt differently about the Muslim leader Muhammed Ali Jinnah, but was aware of his power, stating "If it could be said that any single man held the future of India in the palm of his hand in 1947, that man was Mohammad Ali Jinnah.[13] Whereas Jinnah argued for Muslim representation in a united India, Nehru and the British grew tired of negotiating and thought it would be better to give Muslims their own homeland rather than try to find a solution that Jinnah and the Indian National Congress would agree on.[14][dubious ]

Given the British government's recommendations to grant independence quickly,[15] Mountbatten concluded that a united India was an unachievable goal and resigned himself to a plan for partition, creating the independent nations of India and Pakistan.[5] Mountbatten set a date for the transfer of power from the British to the Indians, arguing that a fixed timeline would convince Indians of his and the British government's sincerity in working towards a swift and efficient independence, excluding all possibilities of stalling the process.[16] He also concluded that the situation was too unsettled to wait any longer than 1947. The hastening of the process of the handover of power would unleash an orgy of violence and retribution never before seen in the Indian sub-continent.[citation needed]

Among the Indian leaders, Gandhi emphatically insisted on maintaining a united India and for a while successfully rallied people to this goal. However, when Mountbatten's timeline offered the prospect of attaining independence soon, sentiments took a different turn. Given Mountbatten's determination, Nehru and Patel's inability to deal with the Muslim League and lastly Jinnah's obstinacy, all Indian party leaders (except Gandhi) acquiesced to Jinnah's plan to divide India,[17] which in turn eased Mountbatten's task. This ironically resulted in a position which was essentially a bargaining tool for Jinnah to gain greater concessions becoming an end in itself.[clarification needed][citation needed]

Mountbatten also developed a strong relationship with the Indian princes, who ruled those portions of India not directly under British rule. The historian Ramachandra Guha states in his book India After Gandhi that Mountbatten's intervention was decisive in persuading the vast majority of them to see advantages in opting to join the Indian Union. Thus the integration of the princely states can be viewed as one of the positive aspects of his legacy.

When India and Pakistan attained independence on 15 August 1947, Mountbatten remained in New Delhi for ten months, serving as India's first governor general until June 1948.

Notwithstanding the self-promotion of his own part in Indian independence — notably in the television series The Life and Times of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Mountbatten of Burma, produced by his son-in-law Lord Brabourne and Dominique Lapierre, and Larry Collins's Freedom at Midnight (as to which he was the main informant) — his record is seen as very mixed; one common view is that he hastened the independence process unduly and recklessly, foreseeing vast disruption and loss of life and not wanting this to occur on the British watch, but thereby actually causing it to occur, especially in Punjab and Bengal.[18] These critics contend that Mountbatten cannot escape responsibility for the way in which events spiralled out of control in the run up to and after independence.

John Kenneth Galbraith, the Canadian-American Harvard University economist, who advised governments of India during the 1950s, was an intimate of Nehru and served as the American ambassador from 1961–63, was a particularly harsh critic of Mountbatten in this regard. The horrific casualties of the partition of the Punjab are luridly described in Collins' and LaPierre's Freedom at Midnight, as to which Mountbatten was the principal informant, and more latterly in Bapsi Sidhwa's novel Ice Candy Man (published in the United States as Cracking India), made into the film Earth. A multi-part dramatization of Lord Mountbatten's days as the last viceroy was broadcast by ITV in 1986 titled Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy.

Career after India and Pakistan

After India, Mountbatten served from 1948–1950 as commander of a cruiser squadron in the Mediterranean Fleet. He then went on to serve as Fourth Sea Lord in the Admiralty from 1950–52 and then returned to the Mediterranean to serve as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet for three years. Mountbatten served his final posting in the Admiralty as First Sea Lord from 1955–59, the position which his father had held some forty years prior. This was the first time in Royal Naval history that a father and son had both attained such high rank.[19]

In his biography of Mountbatten, Philip Ziegler comments on his character:

"His vanity, though child-like, was monstrous, his ambition unbridled. The truth, in his hands, was swiftly converted from what it was, to what it should have been. He sought to rewrite history with cavalier indifference to the facts to magnify his own achievements. There was a time when I became so enraged by what I began to feel was his determination to hoodwink me that I found it necessary to place on my desk a notice saying: REMEMBER, IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING, HE WAS A GREAT MAN."[20]

While serving as First Sea Lord, his primary concerns dealt with devising plans on how the Royal Navy would keep shipping lanes open if Britain fell victim to a nuclear attack. Today, this seems of minor importance but at the time few people comprehended the potentially limitless destruction nuclear weapons possess and the ongoing dangers posed by the fallout. Military commanders did not understand the physics involved in a nuclear explosion. This becomes evident when Mountbatten had to be reassured that the fission reactions from the Bikini Atoll tests would not spread through the oceans and blow up the planet.[21] As Mountbatten became more familiar with this new form of weaponry, he increasingly grew opposed to its use in combat yet at the same time he realised the potential nuclear energy had, especially with regards to submarines. Mountbatten expresses his feelings towards the use of nuclear weapons in combat in his article "A Military Commander Surveys The Nuclear Arms Race", which was published shortly after his death in International Security in the winter of 1979–80.[22] After leaving the Admiralty, Lord Mountbatten took the position of Chief of the Defence Staff. He served in this post for six years during which he was able to consolidate the three service departments of the military branch into a single Ministry of Defence.

Mountbatten was Governor of the Isle of Wight from 1969 until 1974 and then appointed the first Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight in 1974. He kept the position until his death.

From 1967 until 1978, Mountbatten became president of the United World Colleges Organisation, then represented by a single college: that of Atlantic College in South Wales. Mountbatten supported the United World Colleges and encouraged heads of state, politicians and personalities throughout the world to share his interest. Under Mountbatten's presidency and personal involvement, the United World College of South East Asia was established in Singapore in 1971, followed by the United World College of the Pacific (now known as the Lester B Pearson United World College of the Pacific) in Victoria, Canada in 1974. In 1978, Lord Mountbatten of Burma passed the Presidency to his great-nephew, the Prince of Wales.[23]

Alleged plots against Harold Wilson

Peter Wright, in his book Spycatcher, claimed that in 1967 Mountbatten attended a private meeting with press baron and MI5 agent Cecil King, and the Government's chief scientific adviser, Solly Zuckerman. King and Peter Wright were members of a group of thirty MI5 officers who wanted to stage a coup against the then crisis-stricken Labour Government of Harold Wilson, and King allegedly used the meeting to urge Mountbatten to become the leader of a Government of national salvation. Solly Zuckerman pointed out that it was treason, and the idea came to nothing because of Mountbatten's reluctance to act.[24]

In 2006 the BBC documentary The Plot Against Harold Wilson alleged that there had been another plot involving Mountbatten to oust Wilson during his second term in office (1974–76). The period was characterised by high inflation, increasing unemployment and widespread industrial unrest. The alleged plot centred around right-wing former military figures who were supposedly building private armies to counter the perceived threat from trade unions and the Soviet Union. They believed that the Labour Party, which is partly funded by affiliated trade unions, was unable and unwilling to counter these developments and that Wilson was either a Soviet agent or at the very least a Communist sympathiser -- claims Wilson strongly denied. The documentary alleged that a coup was planned to overthrow Wilson and replace him with Mountbatten using the private armies and sympathisers in the military and MI5. The documentary stated that Mountbatten and other members of the British Royal Family supported the plot and were involved in its planning.[25]

The first official history of MI5, The Defence of the Realm published in 2009, tacitly confirmed that there was a plot against Wilson and that MI5 did have a file on him. Yet it also made clear that the plot was in no way official and that any activity centred around a small group of discontented officers. This much had already been confirmed by former cabinet secretary Lord Hunt, who concluded in a secret inquiry conducted in 1996 that, "There is absolutely no doubt at all that a few, a very few, malcontents in MI5...a lot of them like Peter Wright who were rightwing, malicious and had serious personal grudges – gave vent to these and spread damaging malicious stories about that Labour government."[26]

Mountbatten's role in the plotting remains unclear. At the very least he appears to have associated with people who were greatly concerned about the country in the 1970s and were prepared to consider acting against the Government. It also seems certain that he shared their concerns. However, even though the BBC documentary alleged that he had offered his services to the coup plotters, it cannot be confirmed that he actually would have led a coup had it come about. It is notable that any plots that were discussed never actually took place, perhaps because the number of people involved was so small that any chances of success were slim.[original research?]

Personal life


Louis and Edwina Mountbatten
Lord Mountbatten of Burma in 1976, by Allan Warren.

Mountbatten's nickname among family and friends was "Dickie", notable in that "Richard" was not among his given names. This was because his great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, suggested the nickname of "Nicky", however it got mixed up with the many Nickys of the Russian Imperial Family ("Nicky" was particularly used to refer to Nicholas II, the last Tsar) so they changed it to Dickie.[27]

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 famously included a visit to Niagara Falls (because "all honeymooners went there"),[27] and to Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Charlie Chaplin in Hollywood, Chaplin creating a widely seen home movie "Nice and Easy", featuring the talents of Fairbanks, Pickford, Chaplin, and the Mountbattens.

The couple, in some ways, seemed incompatible from the beginning. Lord Mountbatten's obsession with being organised led him to keep a very close watch on Edwina and he demanded her constant attention. Having no real hobby or passions and living the lifestyle of royalty, Edwina spent most of her time partying with the British and Indian elite, going on cruises and secluding herself at the couple's country house on weekends. Even with growing unhappiness on both their parts, Louis refused to get a divorce fearing that it would hinder his climb up the military command chain.[citation needed] There were charges of infidelity against both. Edwina's numerous affairs led Louis to pursue a relationship with a French woman named Yola Letellier.[citation needed] From this point forward their marriage disintegrated into constant accusations and suspicions.[citation needed] Throughout the 1930s both readily admitted to numerous affairs. World War II gave Edwina the opportunity to focus on something other than Louis' infidelity. She joined the St. John Ambulance Brigade as an administrator. This role gave Edwina the legacy of being a heroine[who?] of the Partition Period because of her efforts to ease the pain and suffering of the people in the Punjab.[citation needed]

It has been well documented that 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."[28] Despite this, it is still debated whether or not their relationship became physical. Both Mountbatten daughters have candidly acknowledged that their mother had a fiery temperament and was not always supportive of her husband when jealousy of his high profile overbore a sense of their having common cause. Lady Mountbatten died on 21 February 1960 at the age of 58 while in North Borneo inspecting medical facilities. Her death is thought to have been caused by a heart condition.[citation needed]

Long after the execution-style murders of the Russian Imperial Family, Mountbatten was called upon to authoritatively rebut impostors' claims to be the living Grand Duchess Anastasia, who had been his first cousin. Until his own assassination in 1979, Mountbatten kept a photograph of Anastasia's sister, Grand Duchess Maria, beside his bed in memory of his youthful romantic attachment to her.[29]

Daughter as heir

Lord and Lady Mountbatten had two daughters: Patricia Mountbatten, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma (born on 14 February 1924), sometime lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II, and Lady Pamela Carmen Louise (Hicks) (born on 19 April 1929), also sometime lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II.[2]

Since Mountbatten had no sons, when he was created Viscount on 23 August 1946, then Earl and Baron on 28 October 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 heirs male respectively. This was at his firm insistence: his relationship with his elder daughter had always been particularly close and it was his special wish that she succeed to the title in her own right. There was longstanding precedent for such remainders for military commanders: past examples included the 1st Viscount Nelson and the 1st Earl Roberts.

Leisure interests

Like many members of the royal family, Mountbatten was an aficionado of polo. He received U.S. patent 1,993,334 in 1931 for a polo stick.[30] Mountbatten introduced the sport to the Royal Navy in the 1920s, and wrote a book on the subject.[27]

Mentorship of Prince of Wales

Lord Mountbatten in 1976, by Allan Warren
Christ in Triumph over Darkness and Evil by Gabriel Loire (1982) at St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town, South Africa, in memory of Lord Mountbatten.

Mountbatten was a strong influence in the upbringing of his great-nephew, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and later as a mentor—"Honorary Grandfather" and "Honorary Grandson", they fondly called each other according to the Jonathan Dimbleby biography of the Prince—though according to both the Ziegler biography of Mountbatten and the Dimbleby biography of the Prince the results may have been mixed. He from time to time strongly upbraided the Prince for showing tendencies towards the idle pleasure-seeking dilettantism of his predecessor as Prince of Wales, King Edward VIII, later known as the Duke of Windsor, whom Mountbatten had known well in their youth. Yet he also encouraged the Prince to enjoy the bachelor life while he could and then to marry a young and inexperienced girl so as to ensure a stable married life.[31]

Mountbatten's qualification for offering advice to this particular heir to the throne was unique; it was he who had arranged the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Dartmouth Royal Naval College on 22 July 1939, taking care to include the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in the invitation, but assigning his nephew, Cadet Prince Philip of Greece, to keep them amused while their parents toured the facility. This was the first recorded meeting of Charles's future parents.[32] But a few months later, Mountbatten's efforts nearly came to naught when he received a letter from his sister Alice in Athens informing him that Philip was visiting her and had agreed to permanently repatriate to Greece. Within days, Philip received a command from his cousin and sovereign, King George II of Greece, to resume his naval career in Britain which, though given without explanation, the young prince obeyed.[33]

After his nephew's change of name and engagement to the future Queen, he is alleged to have referred to the United Kingdom's dynasty as the future "House of Mountbatten", whereupon the Dowager Queen Mary reportedly refused to have anything to do with "that Battenberg nonsense."[citation needed] The name of the British royal family remained Windsor by subsequent royal decree. After the marriage of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, it was decreed that their non-royal descendants were to bear the (maiden) surname "Mountbatten-Windsor". Less than a week after the King's funeral, the new Queen's Uncle Dickie (that is, Lord Mountbatten) announced to guests at Broadlands that "The House of Mountbatten now reigns!"[34]

In 1974 Mountbatten began corresponding with Charles about a potential marriage to his granddaughter, Hon. Amanda Knatchbull.[35] It was about this time he also recommended that the 25-year-old prince get on with sowing some wild oats.[35] Charles dutifully wrote to Amanda's mother (who was also his godmother), Lady Brabourne, about his interest. Her answer was supportive, but advised him that she thought her daughter still rather young to be courted.[36]

Four years later Mountbatten secured an invitation for himself and Amanda to accompany Charles on his planned 1980 tour of India.[37] Their fathers promptly objected. Prince Philip thought that the Indian public's reception would more likely reflect response to the uncle than to the nephew. Lord Brabourne counselled that the intense scrutiny of the press would be more likely to drive Mountbatten's godson and granddaughter apart than together.[36]

Charles was re-scheduled to tour India alone, but Mountbatten did not live to the planned date of departure. When Charles finally did propose marriage to Amanda later in 1979, the circumstances were tragically changed, and she refused him.[36]

Television appearances

In 1969 Earl Mountbatten participated in a 12-part autobiographical television series Lord Mountbatten: A Man for the Century, also known as The Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten, produced by Associated-Rediffusion and scripted by historian John Terraine.[38][39] The list of episodes were:[40]

  1. The King's Ships Were at Sea (1900–1917)
  2. The Kings Depart (1917–1922)
  3. Azure Main (1922–1936)
  4. The Stormy Winds (1936–1941)
  5. United We Conquer (1941–1943)
  6. The Imperial Enemy
  7. The March to Victory
  8. The Meaning of Victory (1945–1947)
  9. The Last Viceroy
  10. Fresh Fields (1947–1955)
  11. Full Circle (1955–1965)
  12. A Man of This Century (1900–1968)

On 27 April 1977, shortly before his 77th birthday, Mountbatten became the first member of the Royal Family to appear on the TV guest show This Is Your Life.[41]


Mountbatten usually holidayed at his summer home in Mullaghmore, County Sligo, a small seaside village between Bundoran, County Donegal and Sligo town on the northwest coast of Ireland. The village was only 12 miles away from the border with Northern Ireland and near an area known to be used as a cross-border refuge by IRA members.[42][43]

Despite security advice and warnings from the Garda Síochána, on 27 August 1979 Mountbatten went lobster-potting and tuna fishing in a thirty-foot (10 m) wooden boat, the 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 fifty-pound (23 kg) bomb. When Mountbatten was aboard en route to Donegal Bay, just a few hundred yards from the shore, the bomb was detonated. Who activated the radio-controlled bomb is not known: McMahon had been arrested earlier at a Garda checkpoint between Longford and Granard.

The boat was blown to pieces by the force of the blast. Mountbatten, then aged 79, was fatally wounded. He was pulled alive from the water by nearby fishermen, but died from his injuries before being brought to the shore.[43][44] Mountbatten drowned while he was unconscious.[45]

Others killed by the blast were Nicholas Knatchbull, his elder daughter's 14-year-old son; Paul Maxwell, a 15-year-old youth from County Fermanagh who was a crew member. The Dowager Lady Brabourne, his elder daughter's 83-year-old mother-in-law, was seriously injured in the explosion, and died from her injuries the following day.[46] Nicholas Knatchbull's mother and father, along with his twin brother Timothy, survived the explosion but were seriously injured.

The provisional wing of the IRA issued a statement, saying:

The IRA claim responsibility for the execution of Lord Louis Mountbatten. This operation is one of the discriminate ways we can bring to the attention of the English people the continuing occupation of our country.[42]

Sinn Féin vice-president Gerry Adams said of Mountbatten's death:

The IRA gave clear reasons for the execution. I think it is unfortunate that anyone has to be killed, but the furore created by Mountbatten's death showed up the hypocritical attitude of the media establishment. As a member of the House of Lords, Mountbatten was an emotional figure in both British and Irish politics. What the IRA did to him is what Mountbatten had been doing all his life to other people; and with his war record I don't think he could have objected to dying in what was clearly a war situation. He knew the danger involved in coming to this country. In my opinion, the IRA achieved its objective: people started paying attention to what was happening in Ireland.[47]

On the day Mountbatten was assassinated the IRA ambushed and killed eighteen British Army soldiers, sixteen of them from the Parachute Regiment at Warrenpoint, County Down, in what became known as the Warrenpoint ambush.

Prince Charles took Mountbatten's death particularly hard, remarking to friends that things were never the same after losing his mentor.[48] It has since been revealed that Mountbatten had been favourable towards the eventual reunification of Ireland.[49][50]


Mountbatten's tomb at Romsey Abbey

The President of Ireland, Patrick Hillery, and the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, attended a memorial service for Mountbatten in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. Mountbatten was buried in Romsey Abbey after a televised funeral in Westminster Abbey which he himself had comprehensively planned.[51]

On 23 November 1979 Thomas McMahon was convicted of murder based on forensic evidence collected by Dr James O'Donovan, for his part in the bombing. He was released in 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.[52][53]

On hearing of Mountbatten's death the then Master of the Queen's Music, Malcolm Williamson, was moved to write the Lament in Memory of Lord Mountbatten of Burma for violin and string orchestra. The 11-minute work was given its first performance on 5 May 1980 by the Scottish Baroque Ensemble, conducted by Leonard Friedman.[54]

Styles from birth to death

  • 1900–1913: His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg (German: Seine Durchlaucht Prinz Ludwig Franz Albrecht Viktor Nicholas Georg von Battenberg)
  • 1913–1916: Cadet His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg
  • 1916–1917: Midshipman His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg
  • 1917: Midshipman Louis Mountbatten
  • 1917–1918: Midshipman Lord Louis Mountbatten
  • 1918–1920: Sub-Lieutenant Lord Louis Mountbatten
  • April-October: 1920: Lieutenant Lord Louis Mountbatten
  • October 1920-1922: Lieutenant Lord Louis Mountbatten, MVO
  • 1922–1928: Lieutenant Lord Louis Mountbatten, KCVO
  • 1928–1932: Lieutenant-Commander Lord Louis Mountbatten, KCVO
  • 1932–1937: Commander Lord Louis Mountbatten, KCVO
  • 1937–1941: Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten, GCVO
  • 1941–1942: Commodore Lord Louis Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO
  • 1942-September 1943: Commodore (Actg. Vice-Admiral) Lord Louis Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO
  • September-October 1943: Commodore (Actg. Vice-Admiral) Lord Louis Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, CB
  • October 1943–1945: Commodore (Actg. Admiral) Lord Louis Mountbatten, GCVO, CB, DSO
  • 1945-January 1946: Commodore (Actg. Admiral) Lord Louis Mountbatten, GCVO, KCB, DSO
  • January-May 1946: Rear-Admiral (Actg. Admiral) Lord Louis Mountbatten, GCVO, KCB, DSO
  • May-June 1946: Rear-Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, GCVO, KCB, DSO
  • June-December 1946: Rear-Admiral The Right Honourable The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma, GCVO, KCB, DSO
  • December 1946-March 1947: Rear-Admiral The Right Honourable The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCVO, KCB, DSO
  • March-August 1947: Rear-Admiral His Excellency The Right Honourable The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, KCB, DSO, Viceroy of India
  • August-October 1947: Rear-Admiral His Excellency The Right Honourable The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma, KG, PC, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, KCB, DSO, Governor-General of India
  • October 1947-1948: Rear-Admiral His Excellency The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, PC, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, KCB, DSO, Governor-General of India
  • 1948–1949: Rear-Admiral The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, PC, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, KCB, DSO
  • 1949–1953: Vice-Admiral The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, PC, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, KCB, DSO
  • 1953–1955: Admiral The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, PC, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, KCB, DSO, PC
  • 1955–1956: Admiral The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, PC, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO
  • 1956–1965: Admiral of the Fleet The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, PC, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO
  • 1965–1966: Admiral of the Fleet The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, PC, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO
  • 1966–1979: Admiral of the Fleet The Right Honourable The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, PC, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO FRS[55]

Rank Promotions


Ribbon bars of the Earl Mountbatten of Burma (foreign decorations included; incomplete)
Star of Romania Ribbon.PNG
Us legion of merit commander rib.png




Dramatic portrayals

Lord Mountbatten has been portrayed many times in films.

In Which We Serve is a 1942 British patriotic war film directed by David Lean and Noël Coward, and inspired by the sinking of HMS Kelly, under Mountbatten's command. Coward was a personal friend of Mountbatten, and copied some of his speeches into the film.

Mountbatten is portrayed in the CBC miniseries "Dieppe", based on the book "Unauthorized Action" by historian Brian Loring-Villa, which explores his controversial role in planning and approving the famous Allied commando raid in August 1942.

Patric Knowles played Mountbatten in a brief appearance in the 1968 war film The Devil's Brigade.

Mountbatten was portrayed by Peter Harlowe in Sir Richard Attenborough's 1982 epic Gandhi.

In 1986 ITV produced and aired Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy, starring Nicol Williamson and Janet Suzman as Lord and Lady Mountbatten. Its focus was on the India years and hinted at Lady Mountbatten's relationship with Nehru. In the US it aired on Masterpiece Theatre.

Lord Mountbatten (played by Christopher Owen) appears in the 2008 film The Bank Job, telling the story of a government-approved bank robbery in the 1970s. In a covert rendezvous at Paddington Station, Mountbatten is portrayed as the representative of the British government and gives the robbers documents guaranteeing immunity from prosecution, in exchange for photographs of a royal princess (not specifically named but presumably Princess Margaret) involved in an adulterous affair in the Caribbean, potentially embarrassing to the Royal Family. Mountbatten quips "I haven't had this much excitement since the war".[72]

Lord Mountbatten was played by David Warner in the 2008 television film In Love with Barbara, a biopic of the romantic novelist Barbara Cartland which was shown on BBC Four in the UK.

Lord Mountbatten was a character in the novel Warlord by Ted Bell.

Mountbatten was due to feature in the recently cancelled film Indian Summer which was to cover his time as Viceroy of India, and potentially the affair between his wife and Nehru. It was to be loosely based on the book Indian Summer: The Secret history of the end of an empire by Alex von Tunzelmann.[73]


In Singapore, the Mountbatten estate was named in honour of him by the British colonial government in 1947, two years after he had commanded an allied military task force that had liberated Singapore from Imperial Japanese occupation.

The Mountbatten School was opened in his name in 1969 on land that originally formed part of the Broadlands Estate in Whitenap, Romsey.

The School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh is named after him.

The Mountbatten Centre for International Studies at the University of Southampton is also named after him.

Mountbatten took great pride in enhancing intercultural understanding and in 1984, with his eldest daughter as the patron, the Mountbatten Internship Programme[74] was developed to allow young adults the opportunity to enhance their intercultural appreciation and experience by spending time abroad.

In his song "Post World War Two Blues", published on the LP Past, Present and Future from 1973, singer and songwriter Al Stewart has a reference to Mountbatten's controversy with Winston Churchill about India.

See also


  1. ^ The Long War by Brendan O'Brien (ISBN 978-0-8156-0319-1), page 55
  2. ^ a b Burke's Guide to the Royal Family: edited by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, pp. 303-304.
  3. ^ Alex von Tunzelman, "Indian Summer", Henry Holt & Company, 2007, p 44-45
  4. ^ "Mountbatten Medal". IET. http://www.theiet.org/about/libarc/archives/institution-history/mountbatten-medal.cfm. Retrieved 2009-12-24. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Zuckerman,Earl Mountbatten of Burma, K.G., O.M. 25 June 1900-27 August 1979
  6. ^ "Abstract of GB508956 508,956. Speed governors". Wiki Patents. http://www.wikipatents.com/gb/508956.html. Retrieved 2009-12-24. 
  7. ^ Villa, Brian Loring (1989). Unauthorized Action: Mountbatten and the Dieppe Raid. Toronto: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195408047. 
  8. ^ Thompson, Julian (2001) [2000]. "14. The Mediterranean and Atlantic, 1941–1942". The Royal Marines: from Sea Soldiers to a Special Force (Paperback ed.). London: Pan Books. pp. 263–9. ISBN 0-330-37702-7. 
  9. ^ Villa, Brian Loring (1989). Unauthorized Action: Mountbatten and the Dieppe Raid. Toronto: Oxford University Press. pp. 240–241. ISBN 0195408047. 
  10. ^ "Who Was Responsible For Dieppe?" CBC Archives, broadcast 9 September 1962.. Retrieved 1 August 2007.
  11. ^ The Hot Seat", James Allason, Blackthorn, London 2006.
  12. ^ Ziegler, Mountbatten. Including his years ast the last viceroy of India, p. 359.
  13. ^ SarDesai, India. The Definitive History (Boulder: Westview Press, 2008), p. 309-313.
  14. ^ Greenberg, Jonathan D. "Generations of Memory: Remembering Partition in India/Pakistan and Israel/Palestine." Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25, no.1 (2005): 89. Project MUSE
  15. ^ Ziegler, Philip, Mountbatten. Including his years as the last viceroy of India (New York: Knopf, 1985).
  16. ^ Ziegler, Mountbatten. Including his years as the last viceroy of India, p. 355.
  17. ^ Ziegler, Mountbatten. Including his years ast the last viceroy of India, p. 373
  18. ^ See, e.g., Wolpert, Stanley (2006). Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India.
  19. ^ Patton, Allyson, Broadlands: Lord Mountbatten's Country Home in British Heritage, Vol. 26, Issue 1,March 2005, pp. 14-17. Accessed from Academic Search Complete on 13 May 2009.
  20. ^ Ziegler, Philip Mountbatten New York, 1985. pp 17
  21. ^ Zuckerman, 363.
  22. ^ Mountbatten, Louis, "A Military Commander Surveys The Nuclear Arms Race", International Security, Vol. 4 No. 3 Winter 1979-1980, MIT Press. pp. 3-5
  23. ^ "History". UWC. http://www.uwc.org/about_history.html. 
  24. ^ "House of Commons, Hansard: 10 January 1996 Column 287.". http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199596/cmhansrd/vo950110/debtext/60110-43.htm. 
  25. ^ Wheeler, Brian (9 March 2006). "Wilson 'plot': The secret tapes". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4789060.stm. Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  26. ^ Leigh, David (10 October 2009). "The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/oct/10/defence-of-the-realm-mi5. Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  27. ^ a b c "Lord Louis Mountbatten". Life: pp. 63. 1942-08-17. http://books.google.com/books?id=v04EAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA2&pg=PA63#v=onepage&q&f=true. Retrieved November 19, 2011. 
  28. ^ Bailey, Katherine, "India's Last Vicereine", British Heritage, Vol. 21, Issue 3, Apr/May 2000, pp. 16
  29. ^ King and Wilson (2003), p. 49
  30. ^ "Advanced Weaponry of the Stars". American Heritage. http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/it/1997/4/1997_4_10.shtml. Retrieved 2009-12-24. 
  31. ^ Junor, Penny (2005). "The Duty of an Heir". The Firm: the troubled life of the House of Windsor. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. p. 72. ISBN 9780312352745. OCLC 59360110. http://books.google.com/?id=e_f6-ZPQuKAC&pg=PA72&lpg=PA72&dq=%22sow+his+wild+oats+and+have+as+many+affairs+as+he+can%22. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  32. ^ Edwards, Phil (2000-10-31). "The Real Prince Philip" (TV documentary). Real Lives: channel 4's portrait gallery. Channel 4. http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/R/real_lives/prince_philip.html. Retrieved 2007-05-12. 
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  34. ^ War of the Windsors,2002
  35. ^ a b Dimbleby, Jonathan (1994). The Prince of Wales: A Biography. New York: William Morrow and Company. pp. 204–206. ISBN 0-688-12996-X. 
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  38. ^ "Lord Mountbatten: A Man for the Century". Main page. IMDB. 2011. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0335705/. Retrieved 2011-05-06. 
  39. ^ "Lord Mountbatten: A Man for the Century". Full cast and crew. IMDB. 2011. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0335705/. Retrieved 2011-05-06. 
  40. ^ "Lord Mountbatten: A Man for the Century". Episode list. IMDB. 2011. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0335705/. Retrieved 2011-05-06. </
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  42. ^ a b "BRITAIN: A Nation Mourns Its Loss". TIME. 10 September 1979. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,920606,00.html. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
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  44. ^ Guardian August 28 1979
  45. ^ "Pen gun owned by Lord Mountbatten to be sold". The Daily Telegraph (London). 2 June 2010. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/7796946/Pen-gun-owned-by-Lord-Mountbatten-to-be-sold.html. 
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  74. ^ http://www.mountbatten.org, Mountbatten Internship Programme-Official Site

Further references

See also: David Leigh, "The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 1945–1976", London: Heinemann, 1988

Further reading

  • Philip Ziegler, Mountbatten: the official biography, (Collins, 1985)
  • Richard Hough, Mountbatten; Hero of our time, (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1980)
  • The Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten (Hutchinson, 1968)
  • Smith, Adrian. Mountbatten: Apprentice War Lord (I.B. Tauris; 2010) 384 pages; biography to 1943.
  • Andrew Roberts Eminent Churchillians, (Phoenix Press, 1994).
  • Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins Freedom at Midnight, (Collins, 1975).
  • Robert Lacey Royal (2002)
  • A.N. Wilson After the Victorians: 1901–1953, (Hutchinson, 2005)
  • Jon Latimer Burma: The Forgotten War, (John Murray, 2004)
  • Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh (editor), Burke's Guide to the Royal Family, Burke's Peerage, London, 1973, ISBN 0-220-66222-3
  • Tony Heathcote The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734–1995, (Pen & Sword Ltd, 2002), ISBN 0 85052 835 6
  • Timothy Knatchbull From a Clear Blue Sky: Surviving the Mountbatten Bomb, (Hutchinson 2009). A personal account by Mountbatten's surviving twin grandson.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Louis Mountbatten, 1. Earl Mountbatten of Burma — Earl Mountbatten (1976) Louis Mountbatten, 1. Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC (* 25. Juni 1900 in Windsor; † 27. August …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Mountbatten — [mount bat′ n] Louis (Francis Albert Victor Nicholas) [orig. transl. of Ger Battenberg] 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma 1900 79; Brit. admiral …   English World dictionary

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