Lord and Lady Mountbatten – Trusted Friends of the Family – Chiklod, Bhopal State – Circa 1948

Standing L-R – HH Hamidullah Khan Bhopal, Lady Mountbatten, Lord Mountbatten, The Begum, IAK Nawab of Pataudi

Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, born Prince Louis of Battenberg; 25 June 1900 at Frogmore House, Windsor, Berkshire, England.

In March of 1947 Lord Mountbatten was summoned by his cousin King George VI and asked to rush to India to handle the accession of the Princely States with the emerging Dominion of Democratic India. The King informed his cousin that he must tread with care in the coming negotiations, since the princes enjoyed not only a two-hundred-year-old relationship with the Crown of England but also direct treaty relations with Britain and these would inevitably be broken with the onset of independence. King George cautioned that the princes would find themselves in a dangerous vacuum and urged Lord Mountbatten to persuade them to accept the inevitability of the transfer of power and come to an amicable arrangement with the new dispensation.

Lord Mountbatten was no ordinary man. He had fought in both World Wars, was a British Royal Navy Officer and a statesman of repute, uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and second cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II. He had been the Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command (1943–1946) in WWII and the King had immense faith in him which is why he was sent as the last Viceroy of India in March of 1947. Upon achieving his objective of the formation of the Dominions of India and Pakistan, he was requested by the India to remain as the Governor General. He did so till 21 June 1948.

Lord Mountbatten was a good friend of the both the Bhopal and Pataudi families. Bhopal was Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes at the crucial juncture of independence and Lord Mountbatten had chosen to give Bhopal a prior look at the general outline of the Independence Bill, even before the Congress and the Muslim League for he believed that HH Bhopal would not divulge its contents as his word was more likely to be kept than that of politicians.

Needless to say that all the people in the photograph above spent many days in the jungles of Chiklod, our private shikar gah, I daresay they were finding solutions to the many intricate issues that needed to be resolved with the accession and as my grandfather once had confided in grandmother, “My mind works best when i am lost in your beautiful jungles.” Beautiful they were the jungles of Bhopal!