Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess of Mountbatten of Burma CBE MSC CD

Patricia Edwina Victoria Mountbatten was born on 14 Feb 1924. She is the daughter of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and Edwina Ashley, a descendant of the Earls of Shaftesbury. She is a cousin of Prince Philip. She received her education in Malta, England and New York City. At the age of 19, in 1943, she joined the WRNS as a Signals Rating, commissioned in 1945 as a Third Officer and served in Supreme Allied HQ, South East Asia. Whilst there she met John Knatchbull, 7th Baron Brabourne who was an aide to her father.

On 26 Oct 1946 she and Lord Brabourne (1924 - 2005) were married at Romsey Abbey in the presence of the royal family. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were bridesmaids. The Knatchbulls had 8 children, 6 boys and two girls. Tragically, one of her sons, Nicholas, was killed in the explosion of the boat carrying many of her family. This was on 27 August 1979 at Mullaghmore off the shores of Sligo. The IRA detonated the device which killed Lord Mountbatten, also killing her mother-in-law, the 14 year-old Nicholas and a 15 year-old boat boy, Paul Maxwell. Patricia, her husband and son Timothy were injured but survived. The extent of their injuries was such that she could not attend the funerals, and a year later she and her husband were still in wheelchairs at their eldest son's wedding. The death of her father meant that she inherited the title and became the 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma. Following this devastating loss the Countess became the Patron and later President of the Compassionate Friends, a self-help charitable organisation for bereaved parents in Britain. She was determined that the name of Mountbatten would not become associated with tragedy.

On 15 June 1974, whilst still The Lady Brabourne, she was appointed Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. She succeeded the original Princess Patricia who had died in January 1974. Her other Canadian colonelcy was the Countess Mountbatten's Own Legion of Frontiersmen. She became an active Colonel-in-Chief of the PPCLI, visiting Canada often and enduring long journeys and difficult conditions to meet with soldiers serving in remote parts of the world such as Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia as well as Cyprus and Germany. She relinquished her colonelcy in 2007, two years after the death of her husband on 22 Sep 2005.

In a moving ceremony on 28th August 2007, at Rideau Hall, the then Governor-General, The Rt Hon Michaelle Jean, Lady Patricia was presented with the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross for her services as Colonel-in-Chief of the PPCLI. The Governor-General said in her speech, "The Countess Mountbatten of Burma is a model we can all look up to, an example of such timeless values as duty, selflessness and honour. For more than 30 years, she performed the duties of Colonel-in-Chief with the greatest degree of commitment to the soldiers and a deep and abiding interest in their welfare, and that of their families. She has helped unite serving soldiers, veterans, cadets, their families and the general public, raising awareness of the regiment and underscoring its ongoing contribution to the well-being of Canadians. For all these reasons, I am very pleased, as commander-in-chief of the Canadian Forces, to present the Meritorious Service Cross to Lady Patricia, the Right Honourable Countess Mountbatten of Burma. I offer the sincere thanks of the people of Canada for your many years of service."

Regimental Details | Colonels-in-Chief

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by Stephen Luscombe