Love, loyalty, and friendship can bloom between the most unlikely of people, and this was the case for the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the wife of the last Viceroy of India, Edwina Mountbatten. In her book “India Remembered: A Personal Account of the Mountbattens During the Transfer of Power,” Edwina’s daughter, Pamela Mountbatten, reveals that her mother and Nehru shared a special relationship that was more than just a friendship.
According to Pamela, her mother had had other lovers before, but her relationship with Nehru was different. Lord Mountbatten, Edwina’s husband, was aware of their special bond and even wrote to his daughter that they “dote on each other in the nicest way.” Pamela describes the relationship between the three of them as a “happy threesome” that was based on a firm understanding.
Nehru and Edwina’s relationship strengthened during a trip to Mashobra, where they became more intimate and talked more openly. Nehru even wrote a letter to Edwina in March 1957, where he expressed that he realized that there was a deeper attachment between them, and they could look into each other’s eyes without fear or embarrassment.
However, Pamela clarifies that their relationship was platonic and that it was no less binding for that. Their relationship was more than just a physical attraction, and it lasted until Edwina’s death in 1960.
The Mountbattens and Nehru were a team, and Edwina’s special relationship with Nehru was very useful for her husband. There were moments when the Kashmir problem was extremely difficult, and Nehru being a Kashmiri himself was emotional about the issue. Lord Mountbatten would ask Edwina to convince Nehru of the importance of the situation.
Nehru and Edwina’s relationship began in Malaya in 1946, where Nehru rescued Edwina from under a table. Nehru wrote letters to Edwina for 12 years, where he shared everything he had been doing and the people he had seen. After the Mountbattens returned to London, they would still meet with Nehru about twice a year, and Nehru would come to London for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conferences and spend the weekend with the Mountbattens.
When Edwina passed away at the age of 58, a packet of letters from Nehru was found by her bedside. In her will, Edwina left the whole collection of letters to her husband, and a suitcase was crammed full of them. Lord Mountbatten was certain that there would be nothing in the letters to hurt him, but he asked Pamela to read them first just to be sure. The letters were remarkable, but they contained nothing to hurt him.
Their bond lasted until Edwina’s death, and even after that, Nehru showed his love and respect for her by having a frigate from the Indian Navy attend her funeral at sea and cast a wreath of marigolds into the ocean on behalf of Prime Minister Nehru.
Discussion about this post