Published: 06:00, 24 March 2021
| Updated: 07:22, 24 March 2021
Four-hundred items belonging to a relative of the royal family are set to be sold off by a top London auction house today.
The Queen's third cousin Countess Patricia Mountbatten of Burma, who lived at Newhouse in Mersham, died in 2017 at the age of 93.
This morning, Sotheby's is preparing to sell off hundreds of her items, which has a guide price totalling £1.5 million.
Among the star lots is a jewel passed down the family of her film-maker husband John Knatchbull, which dates from about 1779.
The diamond-studded item was given to the wife of renowned botanist Sir Joseph Banks, and is anticipated to fetch between £40,000 and £60,000.
Ahead of the sale, auctioneers said the collection reflected the extraordinary life and travels of the countess.
The eldest daughter of Prince Charles' great-uncle Louis Mountbatten, Patricia was also the heir's godmother.
Her life was almost cut short in 1979 when she survived an IRA bomb blast which killed her father, 14-year-old son Nicholas and her mother-in-law, Lady Brabourne.
Her face alone required 120 stitches following the deadly attack, and from it became an avid supporter of child bereavement charities.
Before today's sale, her family say they want to offer collectors a unique chance to acquire a glimpse into the opulence of a royal family member.
One incredibly rare item is The Imperial Order of the Crown of India, an accolade given to her husband's mother Doreen, Lady Brabourne.
Set with diamonds, pearls and turquoise, the Order could only be bestowed by a monarch to a female recipient.
Only one person now wears the medal – which is expected to fetch between £5,000 and £20,000 – and that is the Queen herself.
Another highly anticipated item is a Fabergé-made clock, which sat in the countess' bedroom.
Made between 1896 and 1903, it could fetch in the region of £15,000 to £25,000.
Another Fabergé item is also on offer, in the form of an inkwell she gave to her husband on their 20th wedding anniversary in 1966.
Inscribed on the bottom, in the countess' handwriting, is a wish for "20 more perfect years".
This is estimated to reach £4,000 to £6,000.
Another rare item is an Anglo-Indian inlaid bureau mounted on a mahogany stand, made for Sir Edward Knatchbull in 1767 by perhaps Britain's greatest cabinetmaker.
The Thomas Chippendale-made ensemble is expected to make £40,000 to £60,000 - a stark contrast to the £4 originally paid for it.
More personal items, including a portrait of the young Countess and a collection of sailors' cap tallies given to her by her father, are also on offer during the sale.
Ahead of the auction, the Countess' family said: "Our overriding desire when organising our mother's affairs is to honour her wishes and celebrate the memory of both our mother and our father.
"They had discussed these arrangements with us, and we are simply putting their plans into effect.
"We are of course keeping many things and importantly amongst these are objects which are of sentimental value and much loved."
Harry Dalmeny, Sotheby's UK and Ireland chairman, said: "Lady Mountbatten's residence, Newhouse, was a private place for entertaining only the closest of family and friends, capturing all the magic of a stately home on an intimate scale.
"Through her belongings, many passed down from members of the extended family over the years, collectors have the chance to see the story of the twentieth century unfold and acquire evocative vestiges of a glittering way of life."
Bids are currently being taken online, with a live auction beginning at 10am.