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The Hon. Dame Edwina Cynthia Annette Mountbatten (née Ashley), CI, GBE, DCVO, Countess Mountbatten of Burma - was born on 28th November 1901 at her family’s London home in the heart of fashionable Mayfair – the eldest daughter of Colonel The Rt Hon. Wilfrid William Ashley, 1st Lord Mount Temple (1867-1939), a former MP and who was Minister of Transport 1924-1929, and Miss Amalia Mary Maud “Maudie” Cassel (1879-1911). Edwina’s aristocratic pedigree was exceptional – with a wealth of ancestors, who themselves had made their own mark in the pages of British history Her maternal grandfather was The Rt Hon. Sir Ernest Cassel, GCB, GCMG, GCVO (1852-1921), the Jewish merchant banker and friend of King Edward VII (1841(1901-1910), who himself was Edwina’s godfather.

Edwina’s paternal family were from the great political dynasty which included two former Prime Ministers: The Rt Hon. William Lamb, FRS, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (1779-1848) - the famous “Lord M” and favourite of Queen Victoria (1819(1837-1901) ; The Rt Hon. Sir Henry Temple, KG, GCB, MP, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865) - the great “gun boat” diplomat.  Edwina’s great-grandfather was the great social reformer and philanthropist Sir Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Bt., KG, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury (1801-1885) - who is commemorated by the statue of “Eros” in Piccadilly Circus, London.


Edwina was brought up on the Broadlands estate, but it was not an easy childhood.  Her mother was ill and her father a busy Member of Parliament, it was clear that Edwina would develop into a wilful and difficult child, which only intensified upon the death of her mother from consumption.  She was sent to boarding school at Eastbourne on the Sussex coast, and although she enjoyed herself, her Jewish ancestry and impending wealth became the reason for resentment from her contemporaries.

On 5th February 1911, Edwina’s mother (“Maudie”) died and her funeral was held at Romsey Abbey. She wrote to her father “I am so very sorry darling Mama left us all so suddenly and forever…  it is very nice to think her spirit will always be with me.”


Edwina, with her mother -
Maud Ashley (née Cassel)

Edwina, Countess Mountbatten of Burma

NAME -

The Hon. Dame Edwina Cynthia Annette MOUNTBATTEN née ASHLEY


FORMAL STYLE -

The Rt Hon. The Countess Mountbatten of Burma, CI, GBE, DCVO


BORN -

28th November 1901 at 32 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London, W1


FATHER -

Colonel The Rt Hon. Wilfrid ASHLEY, 1st Lord Mount Temple (1867-1939), the only son of The Rt Hon. Evelyn ASHLEY (1836-1907)


MOTHER -

Miss Amalia Mary Maud “Maudie” CASSEL (1879-1911), the daughter of

The Rt Hon. Sir Ernest CASSEL, GCB, GCMG, GCVO (1852-1921)


Early Years