Seeing Tywin Lannister on The Crown may have been shocking, but only an actor of that caliber was worthy of taking on the formidable royal Lord Mountbatten, nicknamed "Uncle Dickie" by his family.
While he appeared in seasons 1 and 2 via actor Greg Wise, it was Charles Dance who got to play the late Lord during one of his most tumultuous times of life for season 3 of the Netflix series. In creator Peter Morgan's interpretation of that ten-year period, the Earl of Burma gets fired, wrapped up in a coup, and sneakily dismantles a royal relationship.
What makes The Crown so fascinating is it sheds light on people and things we've never heard of (like the Aberfan disaster and the love square between Prince Charles, Camilla Shand, Andrew Parker-Bowles, and Princess Anne). Lord Mountbatten is one of those overlooked figures, so let's do a bit of demystifying to get a better idea of how Mountbatten's life really played out, and why you should pay attention to him on screen.
How is Lord Mountbatten related to the royal family?
Lord Mountbatten (whose full name is Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma) is Prince Philip's (Tobias Menzies) uncle, brother to Princess Alice (Jane Lapotaire) who we meet in season 3. That makes him Prince Charles' (Josh O'Connor) great-uncle, but he's more of a confidant — albeit, a sneaky one. Charles feels he can go to Lord Mountbatten with his woes about Camilla (Emerald Fennell), not knowing the relative would use that information against him when the family decides they needed to break up.
Did he really try to start a coup?
Lord Mountbatten gets his own episode in season 3, episode 5 of The Crown in which he is fired by Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins) and recruited by a group of wealthy men to form a coup and overthrow the government. In the series, he attends a meeting and says he'll try to convince the Queen (Olivia Colman), but the plan is immediately squashed when she finds out. IRL, his involvement is debated. According to Andrew Lownie, the author of The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves who spoke to Elle about the character, Mountbatten denies involvement beyond one meeting in which he told the conspirators no, thank you. It turns out, however, his hands may have gotten a little dirtier. However, we'll never know, because:
"The correspondence has either been lost or more likely deliberately removed from the deposits at the universities of East Anglia, Cardiff, and Southampton," Lownie explained." The suspicion has to be that it incriminates the letter writers and others and suggests they were more heavily involved in the coup than [previously] realised."
What don't we see on The Crown?
While it's hinted to back in the season 2 storyline regarding Prince Philip's alleged infidelity, Mountbatten's marriage was somewhat tumultuous itself. He and wife Lady Edwina Ashley married in 1922, but settled on an open marriage in 1931 to avoid divorce after a string of infidelities on Ashley's part, according to The Washington Post.
The Crown season 3 leaves off in 1977. Lord Mountbatten was murdered in 1979 in an IRA terrorist attack off the coast of County Sligo, Ireland. His 14-year-old grandson was killed with him. He had two daughters, Patricia Knatchbull, who died in 2017, and Lady Pamela Hicks who, at 90-years-old, does a podcast with her daughter India Hicks in which she continues to drop tidbits about the Mountbatten family's royal life.
The Crown season 3 is available on Netflix now. Want even more from The Crown? Head over to our curated Pinterest board for all of the 60s and 70s inspiration you’ll need as you work your way through the series.