Why Mountbatten Diaries are coming back to the fore: The Tribune India

Vappala Balachandran

Author and columnist

The Mountbatten newspapers again emerged with a focus on India. They were raised during a recent appeal hearing by a court on the petition of British author Andrew Lownie demanding the full publication of the newspapers, held by the University of Southampton among the Broadlands archives.

Lownie, who published The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves in 2019, alleged a colossal waste of public funds (£ 6,000,000) by the Cabinet Office in court battles to resist the publication of The Mountbatten Diaries. His own legal costs were £ 300,000.

This may not add up to the gigantic figure – estimated at £ 3-10million – spent by the Cabinet Office in 1986-87 during its unsuccessful efforts to prevent the release of the MI-5 spy Peter Wright’s Spycatcher in Australia. . This expensive endeavor, however, had made this otherwise unworthy book a worldwide bestseller.

The University of Southampton said only a small percentage of the documents were held “as advised” in 2011, while 99.8% of the “Broadlands Archives”, totaling around 4,500 boxes, were available for public review. These were originally kept in the Hampshire estate of Mountbatten, then transferred to the University of Southampton.

An article in the Express (UK) of November 15, 2021 said the Queen had expressed fear that her “dignity” would be compromised if the secrets of Lord Louis Mountbatten’s diaries were revealed. He also indicated that Professor Chris Woolgar, who was the chief archivist of the Mountbatten Archives, wrote to the Cabinet Office 10 years ago, offering to censor sections of the newspapers that refer to the Royal Family and the score. from India.

Was it because of Mountbatten’s habit of using “insensitive turns of phrase” while dealing with the most sensitive period of the Indo-Pakistani score, as stated by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre in their book? hit Freedom at Midnight in 1975? The authors who interviewed him for 30 hours were then criticized for reproducing Mountbatten’s description of Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel as “a pair of chastened school children” when they allegedly asked him to return from Simla on September 6, 1947. , to suppress the violence of partition.

A week later, Mountbatten used another damaging expression that the two “were like school kids, absolutely impactful. They didn’t know what hit them. None of this mattered to Mountbatten as he reveled in the success of the book, offering copies to the Queen and Prince Charles.

The authors added that in the years that followed, they remained in close contact with Mountbatten, who took them on a tour of his personal archives at the Broadlands Estate: cards to his baptism on the menu at his last state dinner he attended. .

A year before his death, he surprised them by telling them that “it is you two who are going to write my biography”. They did not accept the offer as they felt England would consider it almost an act of “treason to entrust your biography to an American and a French”.

In 2002, part of the Mountbatten Diaries appeared, duly edited by Lionel Carter, former librarian of the University of Cambridge. This was Mountbatten’s report on the last viceroyalty for the period from March 22, 1947, the day he arrived in India, to August 15, independence day. Carter’s editorial introduction reflects the personality of Mountbatten, where he quotes Sir Ian Scott, deputy private secretary to the Viceroy, that his “formidable and impressive exterior” has given “full reign” to his “vanity and vanity”.

This compendium was the Viceroy’s official letters to Prime Minister Clement Attlee on developments during this crucial period. Mountbatten published the first version in 1949. Normally, it should have been the government’s responsibility to publish government records. Or, he should have at least sought government permission to publish them because they contained his bluntly frank comments about different personalities. However, Mountbatten didn’t care and began distributing copies to the King and others, forcing the government to shut down these journals until July 2002, when Carter’s edited version came out.

On November 18, during this appeal hearing, it was mentioned that Mountbatten had wrongly “influenced” Sir Cyril Radcliffe, Chairman of the Indo-Pakistan Boundary Commission, on the delimitation of the Indo-Pakistan award. on the border. It was another example of Mountbatten’s lack of decency in thinking he could do anything. Lionel Carter confirmed this in 2002, claiming that Mountbatten had influenced the transfer of three tehsils – Ferozepur, Zira and Fazilka – from Pakistan to India as desired by his friend, Maharajah of Bikaner, who did not want the works. from Ferozepur go to Pakistan.

There are several passages in this diary reflecting his nonchalant attitude towards the priorities of the Indian rulers, such as preventing Gandhi and Nehru’s visits to Kashmir until he visits the state from June 18 to 23: “One One reason for this visit was that on leaving I hoped to prevent Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru, who both wanted to visit Kashmir, from visiting at that time. Then he quotes Sardar Patel, saying that neither should go, but “if it is a choice between two evils, I consider Gandhiji’s visit to be the lesser evil.”

Mountbatten had promised several things during this period without knowing anything about India or the gigantic problem he was facing, as his flamboyance was not up to his abilities. For this, he was strongly criticized by the American author Stanley Wolpert in his book Shameful Flight. For example, Mountbatten assured former Congress President Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on May 14, 1947, that he would take severe measures to crush Partition violence in order to “nip the trouble in the bud.” , including the use of ‘tanks and planes. ”. Nothing like that could be done.

Lionel Carter ends his introduction by quoting Sarvepalli Gopal’s criticism of Freedom at Midnight: “As time goes by [Mountbatten] sees himself more and more in the center of the scene, with superhuman divine powers which reduce all the others to pygmies… His vanity feeds on itself until it borders on megalomania.

Views are personal

Source link

About Michelle Anderson

Check Also

Maui Police Issue Safety-Focused Visitor Education Reminders

Maui tourism is recovering from the pandemic, with many visitors exploring Ao Valley State Park …