The extramarital affair between Nehru and Edwina – OpIndia & Manu S. Pillai

The extramarital affair between Nehru and Edwina- OpIndia & Manu S. Pillai

There is no secret that there was an affair between Edwina, wife of Lord Mountbatten and the first Prime Minister of Independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru.

 In an article in Daily Mail, it was described how Mountbatten fell in love with Nehru and how her promiscuity took a toll on her children. According to Lady Mountbatten’s daughter Pamela, ‘She found in Panditji [Nehru] the companionship and equality of spirit and intellect that she craved. Each helped overcome loneliness in the other.’

It was a turbulent time in the Mountbattens’ marriage too. The viceroy was drowning in work (though he still found time to sunbathe naked in Kashmir) while his wife confronted a difficult menopause. He had little time for her, while she began to feel again a sense of inadequacy. It was at this juncture that Edwina met Jawaharlal Nehru—a section of Lownie’s book that will arouse special interest in India. That they got along is known, but exactly how well may startle many. After saying goodbye one time, for instance, Edwina wrote to Nehru: “I hated seeing you drive away this morning…you have left me with a strange sense of peace…. Perhaps I have brought you the same?” “Life is a dreary business,” wrote back India’s future prime minister, “and when a bright patch comes it rather takes one’s breath away.”

They thought of their connection as a very spiritual one, and Lownie argues that Edwina finally found in Nehru what her husband seemed to lack. She certainly stated as much: “You have brought me,” she wrote, “all I was yearning for.”

Mountbatten—who in any case had never had much control over whom his wife saw—accepted the bond. Indeed, when Edwina objected to his lavishing attention on a long-term mistress, he argued: “Just as you wept with disappointment when…I was going to be home the first evening that you and Jawahar were going to be together, I sometimes also feel I’d like to be alone with Yola.” When Edwina died suddenly, aged 59, she was found in bed, Lownie states, with some of Nehru’s letters.

The relationship found its way into the popular Netflix series The Crown, which is a historical drama that chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth from her younger days to her reign and gives a glimpse into the personal life of the royals. Lord Mountbatten was also the uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband to Queen Elizabeth. There are a few references to Lord Mountbatten and India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

In the first season’s first episode, during the wedding ceremony of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at first Winston Churchill appeared to be referring to Lord Mountbatten as the man who gave away India. In the same sequence, few other people too said the same. In the second season, Lord Mountbatten appeared to accept the affair his wife had with Jawaharlal Nehru to Queen Elizabeth.

Notably, Edwina was buried at sea by Lord Mountbatten in accordance with her wishes. At that time, Nehru had sent the Indian Navy frigate INS Trishul as an escort and had a wreath cast in her memory. Lady Pamela Hicks, daughter of Lady Mountbatten, also says that on her death in 1960, Edwina was buried at sea as per her wish. As her bereaved family steamed away from the scene after casting wreaths at the spot, the Indian frigate INS Trishul “quietly took our place and, on Panditji’s instructions, marigolds were scattered upon the waves”.