Prince Charles pays tribute to Lord Mountbatten in 2015
In the years before he got down on one knee before Princess Diana, King Charles was known as the world’s most eligible bachelor, with the then-Prince of Wales having the reputation of a “playboy prince”. But as heir to the throne, his relationship status was a concern to many, especially Queen Elizabeth II, that the now 74-year-old had to find a wife. ITVX’s new documentary, The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor, released on Thursday, has shed new light on the woman he proposed to before Diana, a union set up by his great-uncle.
The five-part series reveals that Charles’s great uncle, Louis Francis Mountbatten, had a close relationship with the then Prince of Wales who described his older relative as a “friend” in whom he could confide.
“Uncle Dickie”, who Charles described as “the grandfather he never had”, encouraged the Prince to put himself out there, writing in a letter in 1974, that he should “sow his wild oats” before settling down with a wife.
Speaking in the second episode, entitled Threats, former valet to Lord Mountbatten William Evans explained that his boss had a keen interest in Charles’s girlfriends.
He said he would “rake up all the pretty girls he could find” to meet Charles at his estate in Broadlands, Hampshire. While Lord Mountbatten wanted Charles to have his fun, his letter stressed: “For a wife, one should choose a suitable and sweet charactered girl before she met anyone else she might fall for.”
And when it came to marriage, Lord Mountbatten had the perfect woman in mind for Charles: his granddaughter, Amanda Knatchbull.
The documentary, produced by David Glover of 72 films, reveals that Lord Mountbatten invited both Charles and Amanda, who was nine years his junior, on holiday to the Bahamas.
The pair, who were second cousins, grew closer and Charles raised the subject of marriage with Amanda’s mother, Patricia Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, who was his godmother.
But Amanda was just 16 years old at the time and her mother told Charles to “hold off”, the documentary reveals.
Mr Evans continued: “She was very young, yes. But she was one of his favourite cousins. She was a lovely girl and she would have been a beautiful Queen.”
Prince Philip was wary of Lord Mountbatten’s apparent scheme as he believed Charles should not be pushed with Mr Evans explaining that there was occasionally tension between Philip and Lord Mountbatten.
He added: “There was a bit of friction between Prince Philip and Lord Louis by telling him to keep his nose out of Charles’s love life. But Lord Louis was very determined”.
And persist he did as Charles continued seeing Queen Camilla, his long-time lover. He sought to snap Charles back to reality by writing him a stern letter, reminding him what had happened to the exiled Edward VIII who abdicated in order to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson.
He wrote in 1978: “You are beginning on a downward slope, which wrecked your uncle David’s life and lead to his disgraceful abdication and his futile life ever since.”
It would seem that Lord Mountbatten’s haunting words hit home as Charles proceeds to propose to Amanda who was just 21 in the summer of 1979.
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Although they were “fond of each other”, Mr Evans explained that she was not in love with him, nor was she prepared to take on the prospect of becoming future Queen and so she rejected the now Monarch.
Mr Evans added: “It was not Amanda’s way of life… She would not have wanted to be Queen.”
Amanda went on to marry writer and property tycoon Charles Ellingworth in 1987 with whom she had three children.
And in 1981, Charles proposed to Princess Diana at Windsor Castle, when she was just 19 years old.
All episodes of The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor are available to stream on itvX here.
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