The UK is in Royal Wedding fever this week with the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle at the weekend. The current “official” royal family is quite small compared to 30 years ago. Those who don’t undertake official duties, or are more distant descendants of British monarchs, are often referred to as “minor royals”. Today’s subject, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, is one of them, and the closest openly gay minor royal related to Prince Harry. Several historical royal weddings have influenced Ivar’s ancestry.
Lord Ivar and Prince Harry
share an origin in that their families came originally from Germany. They
changed their German names to more English ones in 1917 during World War I. The
Royal Family’s name of Saxe-Coburg changed to Windsor, and the Princes of
Battenburg changed theirs to Mountbatten. At the same time they renounced with
German titles. If it wasn’t for the war Lord Ivar would be Prince Ivar of
Battenburg. Many non-titled families of non-British origin also changed their
names during the war.
was Prince Louis of Battenburg. He and his brother married into the British
royal family and became British citizens. Prince Louis became Louis Mountbatten
from 1917 and was created Marquess of Milford Haven. His elder daughter Alice
had married a Danish prince so remained a princess. Her son is Prince Philip,
Duke of Edinburgh. On renouncing his Danish titles to become a British commoner
just before marrying the present Queen Philip’s surname became
Oldenburg-Schleswig-Holstein – not very English-sounding for someone marrying
the future queen just two years after World War II. So he adopted his mother’s
family name. That’s why Prince Harry is also a Mountbatten.
In the Battenburg roots we
find that their princely title comes through another royal marriage. In 1851
Prince Alexander von Hessen married Countess Julia von Hauke. As a German
prince Alexander was expected to marry a woman of equal rank, which Julia
wasn’t. This type of marriage is called “morganatic” and happened quite a lot,
and the wives and children weren’t allowed to call themselves prince or
Alexander’s brother, the
Grand Duke of Hesse, gave Julia the title of Countess of Battenburg for herself
and her children, and in 1858 granted them the titles of Princess or Prince.
Battenburg was an old Hesse family castle and, in a way, foretells the British
Royal Family’s adoption of the name of Windsor in 1917.
Lord Ivar may not even be
the first lgbt Mountbatten. One of Julia’s grandchildren became Alexander
Mountbatten, Marquess of Carisbrooke (1886-1960). He was Queen Victoria’s
favourite grandchild. Several gay high society luminaries, such as Cecil Beaton
who knew him personally, acknowledge Alexander as being gay in their diaries.
Carisbrooke’s only child, Lady Iris Mountbatten (1920-1982), married an
American, Michael Bryan, and the Mountbatten bloodline (but not the name)
exists in the USA today in their son Robyn and grandchildren.
Lord Ivar Mountbatten’s
Hesse ancestry can be traced in an unbroken male line all the way back to
Reginar, Duke of Lorraine (d.915). Not even Prince Harry can trace his complete
male line back that far. Being descended from royalty it’s no surprise to learn
that Lord Ivar is a descendant or cousin to gay kings and royals from history,
including Edward II of England, James I of Great Britain, Ludwig II of Bavaria,
Friedrich II of Prussia, and Gustav III of Sweden.
Lord Ivar’s ancestry
through his grandmother, the wife of the 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, is just
as grand the Battenburgs and Queen Victoria. It includes another morganatic
marriage. Ivar’s grandmother, Countess Nadejda de Torby (1896-1963) was the
daughter of Grand Duke Mikhail Mikhailovich of Russia, a grandson of Tsar
Nikolai I, who had married Sofia von Merenburg, Countess of Torby.
Countess Sofia’s ancestry
reveals surprising bloodlines. She was a child of another morganatic marriage.
Her father, Prince Nicholas von Nassau-Weilberg, married Natalia Pushkine, who
was created Countess of Merenberg. If her surname looks familiar it’s because
her father was the famous Russian writer Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837). Pushkin
is mentioned in my article on Count Sergei Uvarov.
What is a real surprise is
Alexander Pushkin’s own ancestry. His great-grandfather was an African slave.
Abram Petrovich Gannibal
(d.1781), as he is now named, was the son of a tribal chief in what is now
Cameroon. The chief was killed in a battle against the Ottomans and Abram was
taken as a slave to Turkey, and later to the court of Tsar Peter the Great.
Abram’s remarkable rise
for slavery to the ranks of Russian nobility is covered extensively in the
internet. Pushkin himself was immensely proud of his African ancestry and though
his Lord Ivar Mountbatten is of mixed-race descent.
So far we’ve only looked
at Lord Ivar’s paternal ancestry. His mother’s family tree is just as diverse.
Janet Mercedes Bryce
married Lord Ivar’s father in 1960. Ivar was named after her cousin Ivar Bryce
(1906-1985), who brings another American connection into the family. Ivar Bryce
married the grandmother of lgbt activist Julia Pell (1953-2006).
While Ivar’s paternal
ancestry contains many European leaders, his mother’s reveals many South
American leaders. Janet’s grandmother was the sister of Manuel Candamo,
President of Peru 1903-4. Through the Candamo’s Lord Ivar is 4th cousin to
Manuel Odria, President and military dictator of Peru 1948-56.
Lord Ivar’s South American
ancestors centre in Peru and Chile. It includes many significant military
leaders of the independence movements and colonial governors and mayors.
Although I haven’t found any, there is a possibility that Lord Ivar has some
indigenous blood, perhaps even Inca. What I have found is that Ivar’s ancestors
have been arriving in South America since the days of the Conquistadors in the
The families in Ivar’s
Hispanic ancestry read like a roll call of the leading noble families in
medieval Spain – Álvarez de Toledo, Guzmán, Ponce de Leon and Sotomayor, to
name just a few.
Having such an illustrious
collection of ancestors was never going to be surprise in Lord Ivar
Mountbatten’s family, but little surprises like Pushkin with his African blood
and Peruvian presidential links provide one of the most diverse family trees
among the minor royals.
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