“Love blossomed” between a “lonely” Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India and the last Viceroy of the country Lord Mountbatten's wife, Edwina, says her daughter.
Pamela Mountbatten, who fondly called Nehru “Mamu” (maternal uncle), has used diary extracts from family albums as evidence to document a book titled India Remembered: A Personal Account of the Mountbattens During the Transfer of Power.
In a section titled ‘A Special Relationship,’ Pamela writes: “My mother had already had lovers. My father was inured to it. It broke his heart the first time, but it was somehow different with Nehru.”
She quotes a letter which Lord Mountbatten wrote to her elder sister in June 1948 on Nehru-Edwina relationship: “She and Jawaharlal (sic) are so sweet together, they really dote on each other in the nicest way and Pammy and I are doing everything we can to be tactful and help. Mummy has been incredibly sweet lately and we’ve been such a happy family.”
So there existed a “happy three-some” based on firm understanding on all sides, writes Pamela, which strengthened during a trip to Mashobra town in Shimla.
Pamela also quotes a letter written by Nehru to Edwina in March 1957: “Suddenly I realised (and perhaps you also did) that there was a deeper attachment between us, that some uncontrollable force, of which I was dimly aware, drew us to one another, I was overwhelmed and at the same time exhilarated by this new discovery. We talked more intimately as if some veil had been removed and we could look into each other's eyes without fear or embarrassment.”
According to Pamela, the immediate attraction between her mother and Nehru blossomed into deep love because “Nehru was a widower and his daughter, Indira Gandhi, was still married with a husband to look after... If you are at the pinnacle of power you are alone... You are lonely. She became a confidante.”
But their relationship was “platonic.” “…Although it was not physical, it was no less binding for that. It would last until death,” Pamela writes.
The Mountbattens met Nehru in 1946 in Malaya — and Nehru rescued Edwina from under a table! “My mother was already there with a group of Indian welfare workers. As she came forward to be introduced, a crowd of Panditji's admirers swarmed in behind him and she was knocked off her feet. She crawled under a table from where Panditji rescued her,” writes Pamela.
When Edwina died in 1960, a packet of letters from Nehru was found by her bedside.