Lord Louis and Edwina Mountbatten were one of the most famous couples of the 20th century. “Dickie,” as he was called by friends, was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Southeast Asia during World War II, and the last viceroy and first governor-general of India. Edwina was the richest heiress in the world, a legendary bon vivant, and royalty in her own right, albeit as a descendant of the Native American princess Pocahontas. Both were endowed with sexual and romantic appetites too great for only one partner to fulfill, and it is the adulterous aspects of the Mountbattens’ relationship that form the heart of Andrew Lownie’s entertaining joint biography.
From the moment they married, Dickie and Edwina were a media sensation. On their honeymoon tour of the United States in 1922, the couple made a short film with Cecil B. DeMille and Charlie Chaplin, watched Babe Ruth in the second game of the World Series, and visited President Warren G. Harding. Decades before other, higher-ranking royal couples sparked American fascination with the British monarchy, Dickie and Edwina enthralled the former colonials. “Lady Mountbatten wears her skirts just about as short as you see them anywhere on Broadway,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.