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Portrait of Lady Louis Mountbatten by Dali

Lady Louis Mountbatten by Salvador DaliLady Louis Mountbatten by Salvador Dali, 1940

Beautiful painting, beautiful face -- Lady Edwina Mountbatten (1901-1960), Countess Mountbatten of Burma and the last Vicereine of India.

She was the richest heiress in England, descending paternally from Earls of Shaftesbury, ennobled as barons in 1661. Her grandfather from her mother's side was the international magnate Sir Ernest Cassel, friend and private financier to the future King Edward VII, who was Edwina’s godfather. Sir Ernest died in 1921 and left her an estate of £7 million. Her future husband's salary as a naval officer was £610 then.
In 1922 Edwina married Lord Louis ('Dickie') Mountbatten (1900-1979), 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, né Prince Louis of Battenberg, great-grandson of Queen Victoria, afterwords the last Viceroy of the British Indian Empire and the first Governor-General of the independent Union of India. The event took place at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster, London, with all the Royal Family in attendance and the future King Edward VIII as the best man. The couple had two daughters.

After the wedding, Lady Mountbatten "embarked on two decades of frivolity", as Janet Morgan wrote in her book "Edwina Mountbatten: A Life Of Her Own". Indeed, Edwina dedicated her life to the pursuit of pleasure, "running between parties, dress shops and men".

In 1932, Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten were forced by Buckingham Palace into suing for libel (successfully) against the newspaper 'The People', which a few weeks earlier printed an article about her affair with the American actor and singer Paul Robeson. The Mountbattens won the process and that evening gave a celebration party at the Cafe de Paris. And couple of days later, Prince of Wales, gave a party for the couple.

However, the legend has it that Edwina actually had affairs with Robeson and another sophisticated and rich West Indian cabaret singer and pianist, Leslie 'Hutch' Hutchinson. Lady Mountbatten showered him with expensive gifts, such as a gold and diamond watch, a gold ring, engraved with her coat of arms, a jewelled gold cigarette case. There was a suggestion she commissioned Cartier to create for Hutch a diamond-encrusted penis sheath.

The newspaper also wrote: 'Her association with a coloured man became so marked that they were the talk of the West End. Then one day the couple were caught in compromising circumstances' - Hutch and Edwina locked together sexually (a rare medical phenomenon known as vaginismus) and unable to separate, were taken from the Mountbatten residence in Park Lane to a private hospital.

When the war came after the Patrition of India, Lady Mountbatten put heroic efforts in relieving the misery and to this day she remains a heroine in India of the Partition period. She had raised money for the Red Cross and inspected hospitals all over India. She had an intense relationship with India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. She died at the age of 58 while on the inspection tour in Jesselton, British North Borneo and was buried at sea off the coast of Portsmouth. Nehru sent two Indian destroyers to accompany her body.

In 1979 Lord Mountbatten's boat was blown by IRA near the northwest coast of Ireland; he and his 14-year-old grandson died.

Lady Louis Mountbatten by Philip Alexius de LaszloLady Louis Mountbatten by Philip Alexius de Laszlo, 1924

Lord Louis Mountbatten by Philip Alexius de LaszloLord Louis Mountbatten by Philip Alexius de Laszlo, 1925

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