Friday, April 19, 2019

Lady Pamela Hicks celebrates 90

Marlene A Eilers Koenig collection (from Lady Pamela Hicks)

In the spring of 1929, Dickie Mountbatten's tour of duty in Malta was about to come to an end.  It was time to return home to Brook House in London, but Edwina, who was seven and a half months pregnant, decided that she wanted one more holiday before heading home. 

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 The couple's daughter, Patricia, then 5 years old and her nanny, were sent back to London by ship.  Edwina and Dickie (Lord Louis) wanted to do some sightseeing first.  Their Hispano car was brought from England.  Edwina and her maid drove around Spain and northern Africa, traveling with friends to Rabat.  It was in Morocco that she ran into Margaret Greville, who was apparently appalled to see the heavily pregnant Lady Louis riding a donkey. It was a long drive back to Malaga where Edwina boarded a train to Madrid and then onto Barcelona, where she and Dickie booked a suite at the Ritz Hotel.

They had looked forward to a week of "gentle sightseeing," but on the morning of April 19, Edwina woke up at 6 a.m, in labor.   An English doctor happened to be staying at the hospital, who called a Spanish anesthesiologist and English nurse to assist with the birth.

Dickie also telephoned his first cousin, Queen Ena of Spain, but it was King Alfonso who answered the phone.  King reassured told Dickie: "Leave everything to me." He sent the Royal Guard to the hospital who tried to arrest the doctor as he arrived at the hospital.

Pamela Carmen Louise Mountbatten was born nearly ten hours later, nearly six weeks early.  Her second and third names honored the Duchess of Peñeranda and Dickie's older sister, Louise, the Crown Princess of Sweden.

Edwina and her infant daughter remained in the suite for three weeks.  Her cousin, Marjorie, the Countess of Brecknock,, came from Paris, and Nanny traveled from London with "a supply of linen and baby clothes."

The baptism took place in the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace in the presence of the Prince of Wales, the King of Spain, the Duke of Gloucester and Prince George.     King Alfonso XIII and Prince George were Pamela's godfathers and her godmothers were the Marchioness of Milford (Nada, the wife of Dickie's older brother George) the Countess of Brecknock and the Duchess of Peñaranda.

The other guests included Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, Princess Beatrice, Princess Helena Victoria, Princess Marie Louise, Miss Patricia Mountbatten, Sir Felix Cassel and the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven.

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Pamela accompanied her parents to India, where Dickie oversaw the independence of India and the partitioning of India and Pakistan as separate countries.   Lord Mountbatten was the last Viceroy of India.  In 1947,  George VI created Dickie as Earl Mountbatten of Burma & Baron Romsey.  Pamela and her older sister, Patricia, now had the courtesy title of Lady before their Christian names.   The family returned to England in the fall of 1947 to attend the wedding of Pamela's first cousin, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, to Princess Elizabeth.  She was one of Elizabeth's bridesmaids.

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(In 1981, Lady Pamela younger daughter, India, was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer.)

It was at a cocktail party in 1959 where Lady Pamela met her future husband, David Hicks.  She wrote in her memoirs that she was "completely bowled over" by Hicks, an interior designer.  "It was an unorthodox match but one that would change my life completely."  They were married at Romsey Abbey on January 13, 1960.

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Lady Pamela and David Hicks, a renowned interior designer, had three children: Edwina (1961), Ashley (1963) and India(1967).  Edwina, whose marriage to Jeremy Brudenell ended in divorce in 2004, has three children, Maddison May, Jordan and Rowan, and two granddaughters, Daphne and Phebe Modupe-Ojo.  Ashley has been married twice and has four children, two daughters, Angelica and Ambrosia by his first wife, Allegra Tondato and two sons, Caspian and Horatio, by his now estranged wife, Kata Sharkey de Solis.  India lives in the Bahamas with her longtime partner, David Flintwood and their four children: Felix, Amory, Conrad, and Domino Flintwood.

David Hicks died in 1998.

Photo by Marlene Eilers Koenig  in 1980s  Lady Brabourne (later 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma) and Lady Pamela Hicks

Lady Pamela lives in Oxfordshire.   She is the author of two books: Daughter of Empire and India Remembered.

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