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Nehru, Edwina were in love: Pamela

Lord Mountbatten, Pandit Nehru and Edwina
COSY THREESOME: Lord Mountbatten, Pandit Nehru and Edwina

New Delhi, July 15
"Love blossomed" between a "lonely" Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of the country, and the last Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten’s wife, Edwina, who had had other "lovers" before, says her daughter.

Pamela Mountabatten, who fondly called Nehru "Mamu" (maternal uncle), has used diary entries and extracts from family albums as documentary evidence to write "India Remembered: A Personal Account of the Mountbattens During the Transfer of Power".

In a section titled "A Special Relationship" Pamela writes: "My mother had already had lovers. My father was inured to it. It broke his heart the first time, but it was somehow different with Nehru." She quotes a letter which Lord Mountbatten wrote to her elder sister in June 1948 on the Edwina-Nehru relationship: “She and Jawaharlal (sic) are so sweet together, they really dote on each other in the nicest way and Pammy and I are doing everything we can to be tactful and help. Mummy has been incredibly sweet lately and we've been such a happy family'.”

So there existed a "happy three-some" based on firm understanding on all sides, writes Pamela, which strengthened during a trip to Mashobra.

Pamela, who thought Nehru spoke and wrote beautiful English, also quotes a letter written by Nehru to Edwina in March 1957: "Suddenly I realised (and perhaps you also did) that there was a deeper attachment between us, that some uncontrollable force, of which I was dimly aware, drew us to one another, I was overwhelmed and at the same time exhilarated by this new discovery. We talked more intimately as if some veil had been removed and we could look into each other's eyes without fear or embarrassment."

Edwina was 44 when she came to India in 1947 with Lord Mountbatten, who was to guide India to independence as the last Viceroy. Pamela, who was taken out of school to accompany her parents, spent the next 15 months recording the birth of two nations.

Describing her mother as an introvert she says that her parents worked well as a team. “My father trusted her decisions implicitly... And of course, her special relationship with Pandit Nehru was very useful for him ever the pragmatist — because there were moments towards the end of our time in India when the Kashmir problem was extremely difficult.

“Pandit Nehru was a Kashmiri himself, so he was emotional about the problem. If things were particularly tricky my father would say to my mother, ‘Do try to get Jawaharlal to see that this is terribly important...,’” she writes.

According to Pamela, the immediate attraction between her mother and Nehru blossomed into deep love because “Nehru was a widower and his daughter, Mrs Gandhi, was still married with a husband to look after... If you are at the pinnacle of power you are alone... you are lonely. She became a confidante”.

But their relationship was “platonic”. “...although it was not physical, it was no less binding for that. It would last until death,” she writes.

The Mountbattens met Nehru in 1946 in Malaya.

Even after the Mountbattens went back to London Edwina-Nehru met about twice a year. Edwina would include a visit to India in her overseas tours. And, Nehru would come to London for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conferences and spend the weekend with the Mountbattens.

When Edwina, aged 58, died in her sleep in 1960, shortly after visiting India, a packet of letters from Nehru was found by her bedside.

“In her will she left the whole collection of letters to my father. A suitcase was crammed full of them. My father was certain that there would be nothing in the letters to wound him. However, a tiny doubt caused him to ask me to read the letters first. They were remarkable letters but contained nothing to hurt him,” she writes.

On Edwina’s death a frigate from the Indian Navy attended her funeral at sea and cast a wreath of marigolds into the ocean on behalf of Prime Minister Nehru. — PTI

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