Is this the next Earl and Countess Mountbatten?

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Is this the next Earl and Countess Mountbatten? How Prince Charles’s ex-d*ug addict godson and his musician fiancée could inherit one of Britain’s largest estates from his sick father

Nicholas Knatchbull, 36, godson of Prince Charles, engaged to Emma Stayhear Great-grandson of last viceroy of India has been to rehab five times for d*ug use His former fiance Zeaphena Badley is accused of GBH outside a Burger King

Nicholas Knatchbull, right, with Emma Stayhear
Nicholas Knatchbull, right, with Emma Stayhear

The message couldn’t be clearer: in one clip he is stirring white powder and chopping lines with a credit card, and in another smoke billows from his nostrils. Above the sound of rave music floats some salty language.

Hard to believe, but the heavily tattooed figure in the film is the same frock-coated schoolboy once pictured grinning alongside the younger boy he was mentoring at Eton, Prince William.

In fact these are online show-reels in which Nicholas Knatchbull, godson of Prince Charles, is simply illustrating his skill as a film-maker working under the nom de plume 5DN — Five Dimensional Nick.

But how depressingly ironic that his demo film should depict d*ugs, the very thing that almost destroyed his life as he languished at least five times in rehabilitation clinics.

Norton Knatchbull, Earl Mountbatten of Burma (formerly lord Brabourne) and wife Penny, Countess Mountbatten of Burma attends the funeral of Countess Mountbatten of Burma at St. Paul's Knightsbridge
Norton Knatchbull, Earl Mountbatten of Burma (formerly lord Brabourne) and wife Penny, Countess Mountbatten of Burma attends the funeral of Countess Mountbatten of Burma at St. Paul’s Knightsbridge

It inevitably placed in question his inheritance, as great-grandson of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, of one of the most celebrated estates in the land, Broadlands, with its treasures and 5,000 Hampshire acres.

Seeing him soberly dressed in a suit this week at the funeral of his grandmother, Countess Mountbatten, in the company of his ailing father, the new Earl Mountbatten, the future stewardship of the great house that has been a favourite of the royals for decades was on everyone’s mind.

The royals have a huge sentimental attachment to Broadlands. The Queen and Philip spent their wedding night there, as did Prince Charles and Princess Diana. With the death of his grandmother, Nicholas, 36, is just a heartbeat away from the Mountbatten title himself, and the estate.

But the question now is: would he actually want it? For thus far, Nicholas has pointedly lived a life as far removed as possible from the great house, a dropout from the grandeur of his illustrious family.

Broadlands, Hampshire
Broadlands, Hampshire

The perfect illustration of just what a rackety life he has led came in a little reported court case this week. Even as the funeral service was being held at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, a young woman who might well have become the next Countess Mountbatten, Nicholas’s former fiancee, Anglo-Jamaican Zeaphena Badley, 35 — to whom he was engaged for 18 months — was on trial just across London at Southwark Crown Court.

She is charged with causing grievous bodily harm to a complete stranger. She is accused of attacking a woman with a Stanley knife outside a Burger King branch in West London.

The court heard how Badley, who is described as homeless, used the knife to cut the back of the woman’s knee. When she went inside the restaurant, Badley allegedly stabbed her several times in the head.

Knatchbull’s former fiancee, who denies the attack, mounted the assault, the court heard, simply because she wanted to be sent to prison.

Nicholas met the dreadlocked mother of two in his late 20s while working as a techno DJ under the name ‘Safe as Milk’ and sleeping on a friend’s sofa. They moved in together, living for six months in a run-down flat on a council estate in Wimbledon, and told friends they were engaged.

Countess Mountbatten of Burma died in Kent on 13 June. Credit PA
Countess Mountbatten of Burma died in Kent on 13 June. Credit PA

As with other girls over the years who looked as though they might become the Countess one day — more recently he was briefly engaged to Eritrean-born nurse Raz Tedros — it didn’t last.

But there is, we find, an important new love in the life of the Mountbatten heir. Nicholas, who has been clean of d*ugs for six years, is sharing a flat in Brixton with Emma Stayhear, a musician and beauty therapist understood to be of Indonesian extraction.

In fact, Nicholas is engaged yet again. Emma became his fiancee when the pair attended an electronic music festival last summer. Emma posted a ‘life event’ status on her Facebook page announcing: ‘Got engaged to FiveDimensionalNick.’

She also has several photographs on her open Facebook page of the two of them at parties, festivals and travelling in India.

Under one, Nicholas commented: ‘Love you babe.’ The couple have recently released music together on the streaming service Spotify.

Lord Brabourne and Countess Mountbatten CREDIT PIC PHOTOS
Lord Brabourne and Countess Mountbatten CREDIT PIC PHOTOS

Emma was educated at Wallington High School for Girls, a state grammar in South London, and then at music college. So could she be the next Countess Mountbatten?

The question of the future chatelaine of Broadlands is an intriguing and emotional topic in a family blighted by tragedy — the murder of Nicholas’s great-grandfather Earl Mountbatten by the IRA in 1979 and the death from cancer of his little sister, Leonora, at the age of five in 1991.

Nicholas’s father, the new Earl Mountbatten, hasn’t run the estate for years, having walked out on his marriage to take up with a glamorous fashion designer in Nassau.

His ignominious and apologetic return three years ago to his wife, Penny — the favourite carriage-driving companion of Prince Philip — was met with short shrift. In his absence, the willowy butcher’s daughter (her father later made millions with his Angus Steakhouse chain) took over running the estate and has done brilliantly. She intends to carry on.

On his return, she put her wayward husband in a converted barn, though now, as his health diminishes further, she has allowed him back into the Palladian house.

Prince Charles, Nicholas's godfather
Prince Charles, Nicholas’s godfather

The new Lord Mountbatten, 69, who was sent to Gordonstoun in order to keep Prince Charles company in the school that he hated, can do very little for himself these days and is seldom seen without his carers.

In the meantime, however, his only son, Nicholas, has been moving in very different circles.

In 2009 he was living in a squat in Southampton, scrounging money from his parents and boasting of how he had smoked crack at Broadlands while the Queen attended a reception downstairs.

For a while he was living in a nondescript flat in Tooting, South London, before drifting on to other London addresses. Last year there was a gangland shooting just yards from the Brixton flat where he and his fiancee Emma are now based.

It has been assumed that his sister Alexandra, a sensible and pretty girl who works as a forensic accountant, is the logical choice to one day take over the running of the estate. Alexandra, whose godmother was Princess Diana, has, for example, replaced her father as patron of the Mountbatten School in nearby Romsey.

Queen Elizabeth II arrives to attend the funeral service of Patricia Knatchbull, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma CREDIT AP PHOTO, MATT DUNHAM
Queen Elizabeth II arrives to attend the funeral service of Patricia Knatchbull, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma CREDIT AP PHOTO, MATT DUNHAM

Last year, when she married IT entrepreneur Tom Hooper at Romsey Abbey, it was not her father but Prince Charles who gave her away, stepping in for his old school friend who was too frail to do the honours.

Of course, when Alexandra’s older brother, Nicholas, was a child, everyone presumed he would one day take over the estate. At Eton, he was a brilliant student, securing A grades in Maths, Further Maths and Physics in his A-levels. His ambition was to be an astrophysicist and he went up to Edinburgh University.

But within weeks he had become yet another of the so-called ‘trust fund kids’ to fall victim to d*ug pushers. His wild social life was soon eclipsing his studies.

A typical evening out would involve d*ug-taking, nightclubs and often end with him performing dangerous high-speed manoeuvres in the city centre in the car his father had bought for him.

Within six weeks, Nicholas had dropped out of university as his d*ug-taking intensified.

Early on he was arrested and cautioned by police for possession of cannabis, but he rapidly graduated to c*ack c*caine, heroin, k*tamine — the horse tranquilliser — and MDMA, the key ingredient of Ecstasy.

Lord Louis Mountbatten, a British statesman and naval officer, who was the last viceroy of India
Lord Louis Mountbatten, a British statesman and naval officer, who was the last viceroy of India

His parents were devastated, sending him to detox clinics costing up to £10,000 a week in Essex, Surrey, London, South Africa and Arizona. When he went on the run from his treatment at The Priory, in Roehampton, South-West London, they had no choice but to have him sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

According to friends, some 15 years ago while in rehab in Arizona, Nicholas agreed to sign papers giving his father power of attorney over his affairs. It is not known if it is still ongoing.

As for Nicholas, he has never wanted to use his courtesy title Lord Romsey. Even so, it would be a blow to the family if, on the death of his father, he declined to take up the prestigious Mountbatten title.

Such considerations were increasingly pressing this week as the family gathered for the funeral of Lady Mountbatten.

Nicholas arrived at the church with his sister, Alexandra, to whom he is close, all but one of his tattoos hidden under his suit. The one beneath his left ear could still be seen. It must have been a relief that with the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne among the mourners, Knatchbull was able, almost, to be invisible.

Nicholas is at the age when his distinguished great-grandfather Lord Mountbatten — who was of course the last Viceroy of India — had already taken command of his first ship, a destroyer, and been appointed personal Naval aide-de-camp to Edward VIII.

Members of the Royal Family attend the funeral of Lord Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey in 1979. Credit AP
Members of the Royal Family attend the funeral of Lord Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey in 1979. Credit AP

Ploughing a rather different furrow, meanwhile, the new heir to the Mountbatten title has resumed his life as Five Dimensional Nick, informing visitors to his website merely that he grew up ‘in the countryside of southern England’.

No mention of Broadlands, grounds landscaped by Capability Brown or a museum-sized collection of art treasures, including Van Dycks, that will one day be his.

In a music video from December, shot in a grimy flat, he can be seen exhaling smoke and making hand gestures while a rapper shouts: ‘Old school but modified … I’m the wrong type, nothing God-like, puffing on a proper pipe, f****** mad like a dog fight.’

In another, Knatchbull is filmed with a mask on his face cooking white powder over a stove while other figures are shown snorting white powder.

The same rapper sings about the horse tranquilliser ketamine: ‘My K whiter than the KKK . . . I’ve been on the K for years, but they made it for animals, I’m a veterinary veteran . . . we should make a booklet of what to do when you’re cooking ket.’

Prince Philip (left) chats with his uncle Lord Mountbatten of Burma in 1948. Credit AP
Prince Philip (left) chats with his uncle Lord Mountbatten of Burma in 1948. Credit AP

Knatchbull’s social media accounts reveal no trace of his aristocratic upbringing, but on other matters, such as the recent U.S. election, he was only too happy to give his views: ‘Trump is c*** but f*** you too Hillary, you (sic) all spawns of satan.’

Not exactly words to reassure those who fear the heir to the venerated Mountbatten title remains far from ready to take up the mantle.

Source: DAILYMAIL MAILONLINE

Tags: Earl Mountbatten, Prince Charles, Prince William, Queen, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Elizabeth, Knatchbull

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