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Countess Mountbatten of Burma, Prince Charles' godmother, dies at the age of 93

By Lynn Cox

A much-loved Countess who is godmother to Prince Charles has died at the age of 93.

Patricia Mountbatten, known locally as Lady Brabourne, lived at Newhouse at Mersham Ash, near Ashford.

The Countess Mountbatten of Burma, was a former lady-in-waiting to the Queen, as well as being one of her bridesmaids, was a cousin to Prince Philip and was godmother to Prince Charles.

Countess Mountbatten with the Queen at the opening of the Channel Tunnel, 1994.
Countess Mountbatten with the Queen at the opening of the Channel Tunnel, 1994.

Born on February 14, 1924, she was eldest daughter of Louis Mountbatten, later the 1st Earl of Mountbatten of Burma.

Countess Mountbatten was educated in Malta, England and New York. In 1943, at age 19, she entered the Women’s Royal Naval Service and served in combined operations bases in the UK until being commissioned as a third officer in 1945.

She later served in the supreme allied headquarters based in Sri Lanka. This is where she met Lord Brabourne, who was an aide to her father.

Countess Moutbatten of Burma, opens the new St John and Red cross Library at the Royal British Legion village
Countess Moutbatten of Burma, opens the new St John and Red cross Library at the Royal British Legion village

Her husband, the celebrated film producer Lord Brabourne, died in 2005.

They were one of the few married couples left in England who both held a peerage and an inherited title in their own right.

Countess Mountbatten served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service during the Second World War and was active in many Kent-based charities.

She was one of the founders of the Women of Kent Luncheon, a charity event held every two years to recognise the good work done by women in the county.

She was one of the first of two female Deputy Lieutenants (DL) appointed in Kent in 1973.

Countess Mountbatten and husband John had eight children: Norton, Michael-John, Anthony, Joanna, Amanda, Philip, and twins Nicholas and Timothy.

1957 Crowds lined the church approach as Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Phillip joined Lord and Lady Brabourne for a service.
1957 Crowds lined the church approach as Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Phillip joined Lord and Lady Brabourne for a service.

Tragedy stuck the family when her 79-year-old father, mother-in-law and her 14-year-old son Nicholas, were killed while on a fishing trip off the coast of Sligo on August 27, 1979.

The IRA had detonated gelignite hidden under its floorboards of the Knatchbull’s old green boat Shadow V.

Countess Mountbatten was also on board but survived along with her husband and their other son Timothy, who was Nicholas’ identical twin.

A 15-year-old Irish schoolboy called Paul Maxwell, who was helping out on the boat, was also killed.

Patricia’s mother-in-law the Dowager Baroness Brabourne, 83, died from internal injuries 24 hours later.

She subsequently succeeded her father to become Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

The Queen and Lady Brabourne relax in deck chairs watching cricket at Mersham-le-Hatch
The Queen and Lady Brabourne relax in deck chairs watching cricket at Mersham-le-Hatch

In interview with Telegraph in 2008 she said: “My own memory is of a vision of a ball exploding upwards and then of ‘coming to’ in the sea and wondering if I would be able to reach the surface before I passed out.

“I have very vague memories, now and again, of floating among the wood and debris, being pulled into a small rubber dinghy before totally losing consciousness for days.”

She also recalled her devastation after learning that her son had died.

“As anyone whose child dies will know only too well, this news utterly devastated me,” she said

“In fact I was so overwhelmed by grief for Nicky, who was just on the threshold of his life, that I began to feel guilty that I was not able to grieve for my father, whom I really adored, in the same way.

“But the world was mourning him and there was a comfort in knowing that.”

Countess Mountbatten at home.
Countess Mountbatten at home.

Afterwards she turned her personal loss into a force for good by using her experience to help other bereaved parents, through her support of two charities: the Child Bereavement Charity and Compassionate Friends.

As children, she and Queen Elizabeth played together along with their sisters, Princess Margaret and Lady Pamela Hicks. Prince Philip would also join them in the holidays.

Speaking to the KM in 2012, Countess Mountbatten said: “Prince Philip was always full of fun and mischief, in a nice way.

He was tall and handsome – rather dashing. He was three years older than me. My sister and I did not have a brother, so he was the nearest thing.

“We all loved him but the Queen was, from the age of about 13, really smitten with him. It is truly amazing that these two young people met. I can not think of another couple who would have endured.”

Even in later life the Queen and Prince Philip often stayed at Countess Mountbatten’s home in Mersham.

Countess Mountbatten of Burma.
Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

She said: “They had more time before the Coronation and would come down and stay in a cottage in the grounds.

“They loved the peace and privacy here. They could relax and be themselves. We all love outdoor life and often enjoyed shooting in the grounds.

“Other times they might stay in the house – just the four of us. We would also go to church – and sometimes watch my late husband Lord Brabourne, and Prince Philip, play cricket.

“She was totally relaxed, sitting in a deckchair supporting her husband just like any other wife.”

She and the Queen regularly exchanged presents - and showing her sense of humour - Countess Mountbatten bought the Queen a particularly suitable present for Christmas in 2011.

She said: “I gave her a little cushion. I saw this one in a catalogue – it said ‘It ain’t easy being the Queen’.

“I thought that was rather fun. The Queen was delighted and said ‘it’s exactly right for my back’.”
In return, Countess Mountbatten, 88, received something useful for the home.

Countess Mountbatten works in her study at home. Picture: Martin Apps
Countess Mountbatten works in her study at home. Picture: Martin Apps

She said: “The Queen is very, very thoughtful. She gave me a pair of lampshades, which I badly needed. She must have noticed!

"Another time she gave me a pair of cushions. She is very observant.

“I gave her a rather nice present for the last Jubilee, a silver gilt ruler with the kings and queens of England all the way down the side.

“She wrote and thanked me and said it was very nice, so I thought it had gone down all right.

"I heard later from one of the pages that it was a great success because she immediately picked up the plastic ruler and threw it in the basket.”

Family said the arrangements for a funeral in London followed by a burial service in Mersham will be announced in due course.

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