For seventy years, she dedicated her life to her country: England. Impassive sovereign in the most difficult times, making her the pillar of the British monarchy, Elizabeth II nevertheless remained a mother, a grandmother and great-grandmother to her family. And if she had been unmotherly towards her elders, Charles III and Princess Anne, whom she raised while discovering the weight of royal duty, she was able to devote herself more to her role as a mother with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, but above all, to her role as a grandmother over the years. Eight is the number of grandchildren who will surround the queen throughout her life. Some will be exposed to the media scene from an early age, like the prince william and prince harry, the sons of Lady Diana and Charles III, when others chose a more discreet but no less committed life alongside the sovereign. This is particularly the case of James Mountbatten-Windsor, 15, his last grandson.
A childhood away from the spotlight
December 17, 2007. Four years after the difficult delivery of their first child Louise, after an emergency caesarean section, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie of Wessex can breathe. Their second child has just been born at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey County. His name is James Mountbatten-Windsor, he is the eighth grandson of the Queen and is doing wonderfully. A birth “much more peaceful than the previous one” affirms prince Edward himself. The happiness of the royal family is total, and will continue (almost) in anonymity.
During their union in 1999, Prince Edward and Sophie of Wessex had expressed their wishes to Queen Elizabeth II: their children will not use the titles of prince and princess, nor those of Royal Highnesses. Their wish? Avoiding their children “certain royal burdens”, they who have very little chance of ascending the English throne one day. “We try to raise them knowing that they will most likely have to work to earn a living,” the countess explained to the “Sunday Times”. “We have therefore taken the decision not to use the titles of Royal Highnesses. They have them and can decide to use them from the age of 18, but it is very unlikely. So James calls himself Viscount Severn. A decision that is accompanied by a desire on the part of both parents to offer their children the most normal life possible. This is why it will be necessary to wait several years before really discovering James Mountbatten-Windsor.
Discreet but committed
Unlike his cousins William and Harry, who will be placed in the spotlight after the tragic disappearance of Lady Di, James Mountbatten-Windsor enjoys a discreet childhood in the residence of Bagshot Park, not far from Windsor, in Surrey where live his parents. He studied at two coeducational independent schools, Eagle House School and St George’s School Windsor Castle. An altogether ordinary existence, far from royal protocol, which does not prevent him from having a full role in the monarchy. In 2015, when he was only 7 years old, the young boy ensured his first official engagement abroad, in South Africa, with his parents. He will then be seen at royal events such as the Easter mass or the traditional Trooping the Color parade. His credo? Discretion.
A proximity to the monarchy which also allows him to forge unbreakable ties with his grandmother, Elisabeth II, over the years. Some will say that he was one of his favorite grandchildren. And for good reason. James spends his summers at the Balmoral Estate alongside the Royal Family and is fully involved in each of their visits. “He liked to get involved every time there was a family barbecue at Balmoral,” says a source from the “Daily Mail”. “His enthusiasm for fly fishing delighted Her Majesty as it is a sport beloved by James’ great-grandmother, the late Queen Mother. “A passion that will not contradict Sophie de Wessex, herself a fishing enthusiast and herself reputed to be very close to Queen Elizabeth II.
James’ devotion to his grandmother will be confirmed when she tragically passes away on September 8, 2022. He who only occasionally attends public gatherings of the royal family will be present for the grandchildren’s vigil at Westminster Hall in London , then at the Queen’s funeral at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. Proof of his discreet, but oh so certain commitment.