HE was a dashing prince and she was hailed ...the most beautiful woman in England..., so when Louis and Edwina Mountbatten walked down the aisle in 1922, it was the society wedding of the decade.

But behind closed doors, their 38-year marriage was far from perfect – with Lord Mountbatten once admitting: “Edwina and I spent all our married lives getting into other people’s beds.”

Lord Louis Mountbatten and Edwina Ashley on their wedding day in 1922

Lord Mountbatten with the Queen in 1965Lord Mountbatten with the Queen in 1965

Rumours that Mountbatten was secretly bisexual have now resurfaced in a £600,000 court battle between the Cabinet Office and historian Andrew Lowrie, who is fighting for the release of letters and diaries he believes will back the claims.

Yesterday he told a tribunal three of Mountbatten's lovers are still alive, including Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine and an unnamed woman prominent in royal circles.

He also demanded the release of private letters to Edwina, which he believes could contain evidence of bisexuality, and reiterated claims that Lady Mountbatten had a long affair with former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

A stunning but highly-strung socialite, Edwina - who was named the sixth best dressed woman in the world at the time - had at least 18 lovers including singer Leslie ...Hutch... Hutchinson, whom she once gifted a jewel-encrusted penis sheath.

She was said to be sexually obsessed, once being ...thrusted... across a banquet table during a romp with one lover.

Lord Mountbatten - who Prince Louis is widely-believed to be named after - was ...devastated... by her infidelity in the early days of their marriage.

Realising he had little choice in the matter, he began taking lovers of his own, too.

In 2019, FBI documents from the 1940s revealed shocking claims that Mountbatten - who was murdered by an IRA bomb in 1979 -  was secretly “a homosexual with a perversion for young boys”.

                                        Most read in News





















            TRAGIC LOSS         

            Chris Daughtry's stepdaughter's boyfriend is arrested after her shock death         



















            MYSTERY DEEPENS         

            Brian Laundrie's cause of death to be revealed as notebook found near body          



















            STORE SHOOTING          

            Rapper, 36, shot and killed as fans pay tribute to 'King of Memphis' star           



















            WAIT CONTINUES          

            Kyle Rittenhouse jury calls for drone video of shooting as judge hits back          



















            DEATH PENALTY PLEA          

            Death row inmate's sister denied meeting governor ahead of execution            























            DEADLY CARNAGE          

            Horror video reveals moments after rapper shot dead outside cookie shop         

Lownie, the author of a biography on the couple, has fought a four-year battle for the release of their personal diaries, obtained by Southampton University in lieu of £2.8m death duties.

Here, we delve into the Mountbattens' very unconventional marriage.

Naming breasts ...Mutt and Jeff'

The great-grandson of Queen Victoria, Mountbatten – the uncle of Prince Philip – was born in 1900 at Frogmore House, Windsor as Prince Louis of Battenberg, a title he lost when he and other royals dropped Germanic names during the First World War.

By the time he met 20-year-old Edwina Ashley, in 1920, she was a leading light in London society with an inheritance of £2million (equivalent to £53m today) from her grandfather, financier Ernest Cassel, to fund her party lifestyle.

Their wedding, at St Margaret’s chapel, Westminster, attracted a crowd of 8,000 and was attended by many members of the royal family including Queen Mary, Queen Alexandra and the then Prince of Wales – the future Edward VIII.

Both were virgins when they wed but Edwina soon revealed her love of sex when she asked to go to Paris on their honeymoon so they could explore “the most awful places we could find”.

Louis found sex less appealing, calling it a ...mixture of psychology and hydraulics....

He was so awkward in bed he was said to have named her breasts Mutt and Jeff - naval slang for medals.

Edwina's harem of ...ginks'

Louis - affectionately known by his family as Dickie - was often away with the navy and cracks began to show in their marriage after the birth of their first daughter, Patricia, in 1924.

Edwina was so jealous of the attention the baby got that she packed her off to a nanny the South Coast and embarked on a series of affairs.

She soon surrounded herself with a harem of lovers she referred to as “ginks” – including Lord Molyneux, a rich American polo player called Laddie Sandford and newspaper editor Mike Wardell.

Daughter Pamela Hicks later revealed that several admirers were often in tow at the same time, and even had to be kept apart at the family home, Broom House in Park Lane.

“When my mother returned from shopping one day she was met with, ...Mr Larry Gray is in the drawing room, Mr Sandford is in the library, Mr Ted Phillips is in the boudoir, Señor Portago 'is ' in the anteroom and I don’t know what to do with Mr Molyneux’,” she wrote.

Open marriage to ...make Edwina happy'

Divorce, especially within the Royal family, was frowned upon and Pamela said the fallout was “messy and complex”.

“When my father first heard that she had taken a lover, he was devastated,” she said. “But eventually, using their reserves of deep mutual affection, my parents managed to negotiate a way through this crisis and found a modus vivendi (way of life).”

The pair agreed to a ...discreet... open marriage and Pamela said that her father’s “total desire for my mother’s happiness” was what made the marriage work.

        When my father first heard that she had taken a lover, he was devastated.

                Patricia Hicks              

When her husband was posted to Malta, in the early 1930s, Edwina enjoyed a fling with American golfer Bobby Sweeney.

For his part, in 1931, Dickie began to flirt with 18-year-old Margaret Whigham, the future Duchess Of Argyll – who became notorious for her own sex scandal in 1963 when she was photographed performing a sex act on an unknown man.

He finally entered into a long term affair with Yola Letellier, the ...boyish... Frenchwoman who inspired Colette's 1944 novella, Gigi.

But according to Lownie, there were many more lovers, including MacLaine, now 87, and a society portrait painter.

Scandal that ...shook society to its very depth'

But the biggest scandal of the couple’s marriage was about to break.In 1932, a newspaper reported that one of the “leading hostesses in the country” was enjoying a steamy affair with a black man – a huge taboo in 1930s British society.

It's reported that pair were the “talk of the West End” and the scandal had “shaken society to its very depth”, causing the woman to be “exiled” by royal command.

The woman was soon identified as Edwina – who had recently joined her husband in Malta – and the man was wrongly thought to be singer and activist Paul Robeson.

The Mountbattens were ordered home to sue the paper by Buckingham Palace.

After a court case held in secret, the paper finally apologised and offered “genuine and deep regrets”.

Jewel-encrusted penis sheaths

But many believe Edwina’s real lover was the suave and famously well-endowed West Indian cabaret singer and pianist, Leslie ...Hutch... Hutchinson, who was becoming notorious for bedding society women.

The bisexual entertainer - who had ...lost his childhood innocence... when his father took him to a brothel at the age of 14 - had arrived in London in the 20s after being discovered by Cole Porter.

BBC producer Bobby Jay told Hutch’s biographer, Charlotte Breese, he had witnessed the pair’s brazen behaviour at a party.

“Edwina interrupted Hutch playing the piano,” he says. “She kissed his neck and led him by the hand behind the closed doors of the dining-room. There was a shriek, and a few minutes later she returned, straightening her clothes.

“Hutch seemed elated, and before he returned to the piano, told me that, with one thrust, he had flashed 'propelled ' her the length of the dining-room table.”

Lady Mountbatten was said to be so besotted that she showered him with gifts, including a jewelled gold cigarette case, a gold ring engraved with her coat of arms, a gold and diamond watch and – outrageously – a Cartier, jewel-encrusted penis sheath.

One disputed story surrounding the pair was that they were once locked in a sexual position when Edwina suffered from vaginismus - a condition that makes the vagina clamp around a penis - and the couple had to be separated at hospital.

One night, an inebriated Mountbatten fell into Quaglino’s restaurant and told the bandleader, Van Straten: “I am lonely and sad and drunk... Hutch has a p*k like a tree-trunk, and he’s f***g my wife right now.”

Although he was cast out of royal circles over the scandal, Hutch would go on to put another two royal notches on his bedpost, enjoying a fling with Princess Marina and, allegedly, with Princess Margaret in 1955, when she was 25 and he was 55.

Bizarrely, on Hutch's death in 1969, Mountbatten rang the funeral directors offering to pay for his headstone and grave in Highgate Cemetery.

Paul Robeson was wrongly accused of being her lover

Hutch is thought to have been the man who Edwina was really having an affair with

Getty - ContributorEdwina with a lion cub presented to her in South Africa in 1937 '/ '

Enduring love affair with Indian PM

After the court case Edwina moved on to Colonel Harold ...Bunny Phillips... of the Coldstream Guard who she met on a cruise - after allegedly bedding his older brother Ted.

He was 6ft 5in and “thrillingly handsome” according to Pamela, who was nine when they met: “He would stay with us for long periods of time and, to us children, he was part of everyday life.”

In 1947, Lord Mountbatten was appointed Viceroy of India and charged with overseeing the country’s transition to India and the couple moved to Delhi.

There, Edwina was to find her most enduring love affair - with Indian Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru who, at 58, was ten years her senior.

Pamela later said her father condoned the relationship, called them a “happy threesome....

As Mountbatten himself wrote to his daughter Patricia, “She and Jawaharlal (Nehru) are so sweet together, they really dote on each other.”

Some believe the couple also indulged in threesomes, as Dickie tried to rekindle the spark with Edwina.

When the Mountbattens left India, in 1948, Edwina would return to visit yearly and Nehru would make an annual trip to London whenever she was there.

In between, they wrote long love letters to each other.

...A perversion for young boys' and gay brothel

As Edwina became increasingly close to Nehru, new rumours were beginning to circulate about Lord Mountbatten.

The FBI had interviewed several people who claimed the naval commander was bisexual, with one claiming he had a fetish for “young boys”.

The first FBI files date back to February 1944, soon after Mountbatten had become supreme allied commander of southeast Asia.

It reads: ...Lord Louis Mountbatten and his wife are considered persons of extremely low morals....

It also said there were claims that: ...Lord Louis Mountbatten was known to be a homosexual with a perversion for young boys....

Homosexual acts were banned in the UK until 1967, and many memos about Mountbatten's sexuality have been edited or destroyed since.

        Lord Louis Mountbatten and his wife are considered persons of extremely low morals

                FBI report              

But in The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves - Anthony Daly, a rent boy to the rich and famous during the 1970s - claims Dickie’s friend Tom Driberg, told him that “Mountbatten had something of a fetish for uniforms — handsome young men in military uniforms (with high boots) and beautiful boys in school uniform”.

Ron Perks, Mountbatten’s driver in Malta in 1948, also told author Lownie he often took him to the Red House near Rabat, which “was an upmarket gay brothel used by senior naval officers”.

Edwina died in 1960, at the age of 58, from unknown causes - with a pile of Nehru's letters by her bed - and Pamela said Dickie remained loyal to the end.

“To her dying day, he was always worrying that Mummy would divorce him,” she wrote. “But although she said she had no time for royalty and that she was a true socialist, Mummy would never have left him.

“Try keeping her away from a party at Buckingham Palace.”

Lord Mountbatten was assassinated in an IRA bomb attack in 1979 in Ireland that also killed his his 14-year-old grandson Nicholas, Patricia’s mother-in-law Lady Bradbourne and a 15-year-old crew member, Paul Maxwell.

GettyEarl Mountbatten and Lady Edwina in Broadlands, their Hampshire home, with their dog in 1958 '/ '

The Mountbattens on a picnic in Malta with Prince Charles and Princess Anne in 1954Getty - Contributor

Edwina, pictured with Nehru, who wrote her long love letters

AlamyShirley MacLaine is thought to have had a fling with Mountbatten '/ '

Lord Mountbatten was Prince Charles' mentor


SHARE