At auction in London chez Sotheby’s, on March 24, the treasure of Lord Mountbatten, uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh, husband of the Queen of England. A decision made by the descendants of the last viceroy of India. About 350 objects and memorabilia will be available to buyers, all coming from the succession of Lady Patricia Montbatten and her husband John Knatchbull, VII Baron Brabourne, once in the Newhouse residence. They tell the story of Europe, of one of the oldest families of the international elite, the adventure of a colonial Empire, of its end, of its ascension towards independence.
Scroll through a long list of personal effects. An evening bag in the shape of a ‘cochon’ entirely carved in gold and diamonds, signed maison Lacloche, which bears the initials of Edwina (born shley, countess Mountbatten of Burma), one of the most fascinating women of the time, heir to a heritage immeasurable (his father, of German origin, was Sir Ernest Cassel, a rich financier), icon of the 1920s, the madness and scandals of a libertarian and suicidal era.
Also auctioned will be a diamond brooch that belonged to Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), an explorer companion in Thomas Cook’s adventures, a pendant created with agates and pearls that belonged to Victoria of Hesse, enameled works, including a precious pendulum clock, Fabergé branded, two small elephants in gold, enamel and diamonds from an atelier in Jaipur, jewels (brooch, ring, earrings, necklace, clips) ‘Tutti frutti’ designed by the Cartier maison in the 1920s, next to photos and oils (Edwina Ashley and Patricia Moutbatten portrayed by Umberto Pallastrelli di Celleri and Raymond Kanelba), but also antique silverware sets and numerous objects made with precious jade.
Montbatten- Knatchbull wedding post-war social event
“The wedding of Patricia Mountbatten and John Knatchbull in 1946 was one of the first social events of the postwar period – writes the French weekly ‘Point de vue’ – The current sovereign was the young couple’s maid of honor, while the father, Lord Mountbatten, he was one of the most elegant and cultured men, related to all the crowned heads of Europe. His mother, Victoria of Hesse, was the niece of Queen Victoria, her aunt, Alexandra, was the last Tsarina of Russia. One year after the wedding of his eldest daughter, the favorite nephew, almost an adopted son, will marry the future queen of England “, remembers ‘Point de vue’ again. Prince Philip and Lord Mountbatten have both chosen to pursue their military careers in the navy. All this would explain the presence, at auction, of numerous caps of the ‘royal marines’
A very free relationship, that between Lady Edwina and Lord Mountbatten, as told by her daughter Pamela in the book ‘Daughter of Empire’. Impatient with his wife’s constant and repeated infidelities, ‘Dicky’, as he was called in the family, is linked to a very charming French socialite Yola Letellier, married to Henri Lettier, 40 years older, owner of the magazine ‘Le journal’ and since 1925 to 1928 mayor of the city of Dauville. It seems to have been the inspiring character of Colette’s story ‘Gigi’, played in the theater by Audrey Hepburn. Lady Edwina’s response is not long in coming and she chooses a young English officer as her companion.
Mountbattem heirs, ‘not everything will go to auction, we have kept all those objects that have, for us, a deep sentimental value’
After the Second World War, despite the distance, the royal couple agrees to move to India in 1947, they will be the last viceroy of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II. All the objects offered for sale by Christie’s come from the Newhouse mansion, where Lady Montbatten and Lord Brabourne lived from 1952 until their death.
“Not everything will go to auction – confided the Montbatten-Brabourne heirs – We have kept all those objects that have a deep sentimental value for us. We respected our mother’s wish. We talked a lot about this auction with her, in her lifetime . An event also to celebrate the memory of our parents “.