Lord Mountbatten’s position as Prince Charles’ mentor showcased in The Crown

Prince Charles was hugely influenced by his great-uncle's advice

Lord Mountbatten played by Charles Dance in The Crown
(Image credit: Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix)

Lord Mountbatten has been a significant figure in Netflix’s The Crown since season 3. 

Masterfully played by Charles Dance, fans may have been taken aback by the tragedy that opened The Crown Season 4. Episode 1 focuses on the assassination of Lord Mountbatten by the Irish Republican Army.

Netflix’s decision to open what has proved to be one of the show’s most popular series with this tragedy is just as significant. Especially given the inclusion of a last letter that spurs Prince Charles on towards his future wife Lady Diana Spencer.

But who exactly was Lord Mountbatten and how did he influence the Royal Family?

Lord Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten was the 1st Earl of Burma, as well as the head of British Armed Forces from 1959-1965. Through his sister Princess Alice of Greece and Denmark, he was also uncle to Prince Phillip and great-uncle to Prince Charles. 

How close were Lord Mountbatten and Prince Charles?

He may have been great-uncle to Prince Charles, but Lord Mountbatten, known affectionately as “Dickie” actually enjoyed a far closer relationship with him. As The Crown highlighted in seasons 3 and 4, Prince Charles looked up to his great-uncle as a mentor and father-figure of sorts.

Lord Mountbatten advised the young Prince of Wales on matters of the heart, in particular his future marriage. The Crown Season 3 alluded to a particular piece of advice sent in a letter to Charles. 

Lord Mountbatten and Prince Charles

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images)

Here his great-uncle suggested that in a case such as Charles’ when looking for a wife ‘he should choose a suitable, attractive, and sweet-charactered girl before she has met anyone else she might fall for.’

It is believed that his advice combined with that from other members of the Royal Family helped dissuade Prince Charles from marrying Camilla Shand - later Parker Bowles. Prince Charles later went on to propose to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, before going on to marry Camilla in 2005.

How accurate was The Crown’s depiction of him? 

In one of the most talked about scenes in Season 4, Prince Charles receives a final letter from Dickie written before his mentor’s assassination. This letter talks of the Lord’s fear that Charles will bring "ruin and disappointment" to the Royal Family. 

His words speak volumes about his disapproval at Prince Charles continuing his affair with Camilla. Dickie adds that it’s ‘astonishing’ how little Charles was attempting to conceal his “infatuation” for married Camilla.

Dramatic and compelling as it may be, however, the exact wording and the presence of a final letter opened after his death is completely fictional. Though Peter Morgan, the show’s creator has defended its inclusion on The Crown’s Official Podcast.

"What we know is that Mountbatten was really responsible for taking Charles to one side at precisely this point,” Morgan explained. He added that “based on everything I've read and people I've spoken to” he fully believes the letter “represents his view.”

Despite this scene being a case of dramatic license, The Crown has reminded us of the significant part Lord Mountbatten played in Royal Life.

The Crown Season 4 is available to watch on Netflix.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!