New Delhi: Edwina Mountbatten enjoyed a close and warm relationship with Jawaharlal Nehru (pictured) but it was spiritual and intellectual, not a sexual one, says the lady’s daughter Pamela Hicks.
Excerpts from her just released book Daughter of Empire published in Friday’s Daily Mail say Lord Mountbatten was aware of his wife’s fondness for Nehru but did not interfere.
Edwina, wife of undivided India’s last viceroy, fell madly in love with the country and with Pandit Nehru, the first prime minister after independence, says Pamela Hicks, now 83.
From the start, there was a profound connection between them, she said.
“She found in Panditji the companionship and equality of spirit and intellect that she craved. Each helped overcome loneliness in the other.”
Mountbatten saw this too but let his wife get on with this new phase of her life, the daily quoted the book as saying. For him, Edwina’s new interest was a relief. “Her new-found happiness released him from her relentless late-night recriminations, the constant accusations that he didn’t understand her and was ignoring her.”
Pamela says the four of them — father, mother, daughter and Nehru (who was a widower) — would walk out together but always with Edwina and Nehru together side by side up ahead.
“My father and I would tactfully fall behind when they were deep in conversation. But we did not, at any time, feel excluded.”
Mountbatten, she said, “trusted them both”.
In later years, Pamela pored over Nehru’s letters to her mother, “and I came to realise how deeply he and my mother loved each other”.
According to the author, it was a spiritual and intellectual relationship, not a sexual one.
“Neither had time to indulge in a physical affair, and anyway the very public nature of their lives meant they were rarely alone.”
What was remarkable was Mountbatten’s dignity and forbearance. He remained loyal to the end. In 1960, aged 58, Edwina died of a stroke on a tour of the Far East for a charity. According to the book, Edwina did have lovers in her earlier part of life, but yet the Mountbattens
marriage lasted. IANS