Daughter of Empire by Pamela Hicks
My Life as a Mountbatten

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The trouble with having a stiff upper lip such as that of Lady Pamela Hicks, no matter how essential it was to her survival, is that it seems to have extended into a kind of mask; and so her insider view ends up being blinkered...
-Washington Times

Synopsis

This magical memoir about a singular childhood in England and India by the daughter of Lord Louis and Edwina Mountbatten provides a privileged glimpse into the lives and loves of some of the twentieth century’s leading figures.

A magical memoir about a singular childhood in England and India by the daughter of Lord Louis and Edwina Mountbatten

Few families can boast of not one but two saints among their ancestors, a great-aunt who was the last tsarina of Russia, a father who was Grace Kelly’s pinup, and a grandmother who was not only a princess but could also argue the finer points of naval law. Pamela Mountbatten entered a remarkable family when she was born at the very end of the Roaring Twenties.

As the younger daughter of the glamorous heiress Edwina Ashley and Lord Louis Mountbatten, Pamela spent much of her early life with her sister, nannies, and servants—and a menagerie that included, at different times, a bear, two wallabies, a mongoose, and a lion. Her parents each had lovers who lived openly with the family. The house was always full of guests like Sir Winston Churchill, Noël Coward, Douglas Fairbanks, and the Duchess of Windsor (who brought a cold cooked chicken as a hostess gift).

When World War II broke out, Lord Mountbatten was in command of HMS Kelly before being appointed chief of Combined Operations, and Pamela and her sister were sent to live on Fifth Avenue in New York City with Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt. In 1947, her parents were appointed to be the last viceroy and vicereine of India and oversee the transfer of power to an independent Indian government. Amid the turmoil of political change, Pamela worked with student leaders, developed warm friendships with Gandhi and Nehru, and witnessed both the joy of Independence Day and its terrible aftermath. Soon afterwards, she was a bridesmaid in Princess Elizabeth’s wedding to Prince Philip, and was a ladyin- waiting at the young princess’s side when she learned her father had died and she was queen.

Vivid and engaging, well-paced and superbly detailed, this witty, intimate memoir is an enchanting lens through which to view the early part of the twentieth century.
 

About Pamela Hicks

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Pamela Hicks is the daughter of Lord Louis and Edwina Mountbatten. She was Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen both when she was a princess and following her coronation. In 1960 she married the internationally celebrated designer David Hicks. She is the author of India Remembered and lives in Oxfordshire.
 
Published September 3, 2013 by Simon & Schuster. 269 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Daughter of Empire
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on Jul 14 2013

Though the first half of the book does little more than portray the pampered life of the upper-crust children who had to curtsey to grandmother, Hicks’ love of India and the description of her year with the queen’s world tour make it worth reading. Many fans of Downton Abbey will certainly enjoy it.

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Melanie Kirkpatrick on Oct 11 2013

Lady Pamela rarely offers an opinion of the events she witnessed. Rather her contribution—and it is a valuable one—is to provide the personal details that make history come to life.

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Washington Times

Below average
Reviewed by Martin Rubin on Nov 17 2013

The trouble with having a stiff upper lip such as that of Lady Pamela Hicks, no matter how essential it was to her survival, is that it seems to have extended into a kind of mask; and so her insider view ends up being blinkered...

Read Full Review of Daughter of Empire: My Life a... | See more reviews from Washington Times

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