The Countess Mountbatten of Burma has passed away at the age of 93. The British peeress, who survived an IRA bomb that killed her father and her son, died peacefully at her home in Mersham, Kent on 13 June, surrounded by her children, the family confirmed in a statement. Countess Patricia was a first cousin to the Queen's husband, Prince Philip, and godmother to Prince Charles. The Prince of Wales paid tribute in a heartfelt statement that read: "I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of my very special godmother, Lady Mountbatten, whom I have known and loved ever since I can first remember. She played an extremely important part in my life and I shall miss her presence most dreadfully." A Buckingham Palace spokesperson added that the Queen and Prince Philip have "privately passed on their condolences".
The Countess Mountbatten of Burma with her godson Prince Charles
The Countess had a very close relationship with the British royal family. She and her younger sister, Lady Pamela Hicks, would often play with the future Queen and Princess Margaret, and when Patricia married Lord Brabourne in 1947, Princess Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, Lady Pamela and Princess Alexandra of Kent acted as her bridesmaids. Lady Patricia and Lord Brabourne went on to have eight children together before his death in 2005.
Lady Mountbatten's life was devastated in August 1979 when the IRA blew up the family's boat in Co Sligo. Her father, Earl Mountbatten, mother-in-law, the Dowager Lady Brabourne and her 14-year-old son Nicholas Knatchbull were all killed instantly, as was 15-year-old boat boy Paul Maxwell. Nicholas' twin brother, Tim, survived with severe injuries. Lady Mountbatten was pulled from the water, and needed 120 stitches to her face, which she later referred to as "my IRA facelift".
Lady Mountbatten pictured with her late father and her sister, Lady Pamela Hicks
In a 2008 interview with the Telegraph, Lady Mountbatten spoke of her grief. "As anyone whose child dies will know only too well, this news utterly devastated me," she said. "In fact, I was so overwhelmed by grief for Nicky, who was just on the threshold of his life, that I began to feel guilty that I was not able to grieve for my father, whom I really adored, in the same way. But the world was mourning him, and there was a comfort in knowing that." She described the killers as "inhuman" but said she had learned to live with the past. "If you are bitter, it consumes you, your family and the people around you. It is corrosive. It destroys your normal life," she said. "If my father had survived, he would have felt the same."
The Countess used her experience of loss to help other bereaved parents, by supporting the charities Child Bereavement UK and Compassionate Friends. She is survived by four sons and two daughters. The arrangements for a funeral in London followed by a burial service in Mersham, are to be announced at a later date.