Mountbatten in retirement: the abortive trip to rebel Rhodesia

Historian article

By Adrian Smith, published 24th November 2022

Adrian Smith investigates an abortive plan for the earl to intervene in Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

Earl Mountbatten of Burma boasted a unique CV: Chief of Combined Operations, Supreme Commander South-East Asia, Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord, Chief of the Defence Staff, and Viceroy of India. Yet somehow that wasn’t enough. Mountbatten delighted in boasting of the jobs he could have had, but which he declined. High on the list was defence secretary in both Labour and Conservative governments, or at least so he claimed. The post probably was his, had he so wished, but most likely it would not have worked out well. In any case, was it wise for someone so closely linked to the Royal Family to be directly associated with one or other political party? Mountbatten’s fulfilment of his ultimate ambition – to be Chief of the Naval Staff – was undoubtedly threatened in the early 1950s by a prevailing view among many Conservatives that he and his wife were champagne socialists in thrall to the Labour Party...

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