India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the country’s last vicereine Edwina Mountbatten deeply loved and respected each other but they did not a physical relationship, Edwina’s daughter Pamela Hicks nee Mountbatten has written in a book recently published in India.
The book, “Daughter of Empire: Life as a Mountbatten”, was first published in 2012 in the United Kingdom and was recently brought to India as a paperback.
According to a PTI report on the book, Pamela writes that her mother and Nehru shared a “profound relationship” that bloomed after Edwina arrived in India along with her husband and India’s last viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1947.
Pamela was 17-years-old then and says that she saw the first stages of what would go on to become a relationship based on “equality of spirit and intellect”. “She found in Panditji the companionship and equality of spirit and intellect that she craved,” Pamela is quoted as saying by PTI.
Reading Nehru’s inner thoughts and feelings for her mother in his letters made Pamela “realise how deeply he and my mother loved and respected each other”.
Pamela says that she was intensely curious to know more about the extent of the relationship between Nehru and Edwina. She wanted to find out whether or not their affair had been sexual in nature” but after having read the letters, she was utterly convinced it hadn’t been.
They neither had the time, nor the space to wallow in a physical relationship. “Quite apart from the fact that neither my mother nor Panditji had time to indulge in a physical affair, they were rarely alone. They were always surrounded by staff, police and other people,” Pamela writes.
Pamela goes on to say that she spoke to Freddie Burnaby Atkins, Lord Mountbatten’s aide-de-camp, who told her that Nehru and Edwina would have found it impossible to carry on a physical affair due to the very public lives they led.
As the Mountbattens prepared to leave India, Edwina wanted to gift Nehru an emerald ring, her daughters writes in the book. However, Edwina knew that Nehru would not accept is and so instead she handed the jewel over to Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter, telling her to pawn it off in case of financial difficulties.
Instead, she handed it to his daughter, Indira, telling her that if he were ever to find himself in financial difficulties he was well known for giving away all his money she should sell it for him,” Pamela writes.
And, during the farewell party organised for the Mountbattens, Nehru addressed Edwina directly.
“Wherever you have gone, you have brought solace, you have brought hope and encouragement,” Pamela quotes Nehru as saying. “Is it surprising, therefore, that the people of India should love you and look up to you as one of themselves and should grieve that you are going?”