Why, like Melinda Gates, I kept my husband’s name after our divorce

My marriage to my former husband, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, ended over a decade in the past. Since that point, solely two individuals have ever remarked that it’s odd I nonetheless go by my married name. One is my nameless stalker, who has a critical bee in her bonnet about it and writes usually to inform me I’m buying and selling on the Mountbatten moniker. 

The different is the daughter of a Duke, who as soon as knowledgeable me I’d elevated my standing in not solely protecting ‘Mountbatten’ however in selecting to go by Lady Penny after my divorce (I’d been Lady Ivar whereas I was married). The change of styling, she identified, denotes that I am the daughter of a Duke or Earl, which after all I’m not. Given that I had checked it with each Buckingham Palace and Debrett’s, I wasn’t too perturbed by her raised eyebrows.

Much like Melinda Gates – who, it was revealed this week, is not going to be altering her name after her divorce – it by no means occurred to me to cease utilizing my married name simply because Ivar and I have been now not collectively. I was 28 after we have been married, I’m 55 now, so I’ve been a Mountbatten for somewhat over half my life. It’s the name I had when I was starting to build my business and popularity; it’s the name my contacts, purchasers and pals all around the world know me by. But past that, it’s a part of my id. 

By 27, I was simply starting to forge my approach in a career and turn into a accountable grownup. To revert again to my maiden name, Penny Thompson, practically three a long time later and as a mom of three Mountbattens, it will be like stepping again in time. I’d really feel I’d lost myself in some way, as if a complete interval of my life, which was so formative and related, had instantly ceased to exist. 

Even if my work wasn’t a consideration, I would wish to share the identical name as my daughters, Ella, Alix and Luli, and the person who helped me to create them. It is by very definition our household name, and although Ivar and I are now not collectively, we stay a household and at all times will. Our separation wasn’t essentially straightforward, however there’s enormous love and respect there. We have at all times stood agency on being shut and spend a number of time collectively, and with our youngsters. 

Our shut household unit can be laborious received. It takes acceptance, forgiveness and energy to remain united. Our scenario is, I admire, distinctive. Ivar is now fortunately married to James, however he nonetheless calls me his spouse as a result of he’ll by no means have one other. Of course, it vastly depends upon the circumstances of your separation – and I can think about that when issues are extra acrimonious, it could be extra tempting to shed all of the bonds that tied you in marriage, together with the name you as soon as shared. I’m grateful that my name does not function a reminder of painful reminiscences. Quite the alternative is true. 

I’m honoured to be a part of the Mountbatten clan. They are a rare household, filled with inspirational people together with HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Being related to them offers me an enormous sense of pleasure and I hope to do the name justice. 

Mrs Gates’s legacy is, after all, vastly important, however in my personal small approach, I can relate to her. My former husband’s name has helped me elevate a lot wanted funds for the 5 charities of which I am an lively patron. I relish having the ability to help them and I’m fairly positive they wouldn’t need me if I was Penny Thompson. But if I can elevate their profile and improve their coffers (as, certainly, so many Mountbattens have achieved earlier than me within the name of charitable causes) then I really feel I’ve used my name constructively. And if that’s “trading on my name”, then so be it. It’s a name I am proud to have. 

As instructed to Eleanor Steafel

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