Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru were deeply in love according to her daughter Pamela Hicks whose autobiography Daughter of Empire (Weidenfeld and Nicolson) has just been released. It was blissful romance but there was no sex involved for the simple reason that they did not have time for it.
Excerpts from the autobiography published in British newspapers reveal that Edwina was an extremely promiscuous lady and took lovers as and when she wished. Lord Mountbatten was aware of all this and at one stage in their marriage he too joined the fun and took on a lover as if to compete with his wife, their daughter Pamela reveals in her autobiography. Both their loves walked in and out of the house at one time making it a 'menage a quatre'.
"Neither had the time to indulge in a physical affair and anyway the very public nature of their lives meant they were rarely alone," Pamela says. The daughter says that it was Lord Mountbatten’s strange "lack of jealousy that prevented the family from fragmenting".
Pamela says that she realised her mother’s love for Nehru when they went over Nehru's love letters. "I came to realise how deeply he and my mother loved each other," she says. Edwina found in Nehru "the companionship and equality of spirit and intellect that she craved. Each helped overcome loneliness in the other".
Many historians have recorded the Edwina-Nehru love affair but now there is authentication from the family itself and thus gives it a different perspective.
Lord Mountbatten was in a way relieved as he watched the increasing closeness between the two because it got her off his back. Edwina was constantly cribbing about their married life. Mountbatten used the closeness for political purposes also and even termed the affair Operation Seduction. Mountbatten let Nehru and Edwina walk together while he dropped behind and walked with Pamela.
Edwina was a reckless lover and fornicated with abandon, a habit which started when Mountbatten was away for Naval duties. Initially Mountbatten was heartbroken, but his love for her ran deep according to his daughter.