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Obituary: Countess Mountbatten of Burma

Patricia Knatchbull was the 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma. She was the eldest child of Lord Mountbatten of Burma. Our Queen did not celebrate her accession as it was also the anniversary of her father’s passing, but there is little doubt that Patricia Knatchbull took over from her father in the most tragic of circumstances. Lord Mountbatten was murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1979 when his boat was blown up off the coast of Sligo. In that attack, she lost her father, mother-in-law, and her fourteen-year-old son Nicholas; she, her husband and another son, Timothy were seriously injured. Following her losses, she became the patron and later President of The Compassionate Friends, a self-help charity which provides help and support to bereaved parents across the United Kingdom.

She was born in 1924 and educated not only in England but also Malta and New York City. She did not, however, stay out of England for World War II; in 1943, at age 19, she joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service as a Signal Rating serving at many Combined Operations bases throughout the United Kingdom. In 1945 she was made a third officer and posted in Supreme Allied Headquarters in South-East Asia, it was here she met Lord Brabourne who was an aide to her father. They married the next year in Romsey Abbey, near her father’s Broadlands estate, her bridesmaids included the then Princess Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret. She later became a Godmother to the Queen’s first son, Prince Charles. The couple had eight children and currently have eighteen grandchildren, the heir to the Earldom is her eldest son, Norton Knatchbull, 8th Baron Brabourne, a title which has come down his father’s line.

Countess Mountbatten has been a magistrate in Kent for a long time and in 1974 was also made Deputy Lieutenant of Kent. Then in the following year, she took over from a distant cousin, HRH Princess Patricia of Connaught as Colonel in Chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry a position she held until 2007. This unit of the Canadian Light Infantry formed in 1914, when Princess Patricia’s father, the Duke of Connaught, was Governor-General of Canada. Following her stepping down as Colonel in Chief, she was presented with the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross for her work as Colonel in Chief.

She was also involved with many United Kingdom organisations, including being Patron of the SOS Children’s Villages UK, and a Dame of the Order of St John, perhaps better known as the St John Ambulance. When in 2012, Queen Elizabeth met with Martin McGuiness who had allegedly been part of the IRA at the time of Lord Mountbatten’s murder she gave her full support. “I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m hugely grateful that we have come to a point where we can behave responsibly and positively.