Mountbatten’s statue prompted an exchange of fire between naval officers

Blog by office volunteer Richard Graham

The statue of Earl Mountbatten of Burma  just off Horse Guards Parade was unveiled by the Queen on 2 November 1983. Three days later ‘The Times’ published a letter from the author and broadcaster Ludovic Kennedy, writing from the Army and Navy Club, in which he said the statue was ‘…impressive but flawed.’ The earl could have been shown with binoculars, as if on the bridge of his ship, or in ceremonial dress, ‘But… on what occasion would one have expected to meet him wearing binoculars, aiguillettes*, the Order of Merit and the Order of the Garter, all at the same time?’

Earl Mountbatten of Burma (©Loz Flowers)

Kennedy (1919-2009), knighted in 1994, had served in the RNVR from 1939 to 1946. His father, Captain E C Kennedy, was killed in 1939 while commanding the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Rawalpindi in action against the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.

On 8 November, The Times printed the answer to Kennedy’s question from one of the assessors who selected the design for the statue, no less a person than the former Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Lewin, who wrote, ‘The short answer is on board her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia at her Majesty’s silver jubilee review of the Fleet in 1977, when in addition he was wearing his medals and a sword. There may have been other occasions, but I can vouch for that one.’ In his opinion, Franta Belsky the sculptor had ‘… perfectly captured both the form and the spirit of that great man.’

* Ornamental braided cord worn with uniform.

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