18th May 1970: the laying of a foundation stone, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes.

Born in 1900 Louis Mountbatten was home-schooled, then attended a school in Hertfordshire and the Royal Naval College. Following Service in the First World War he became a mature student as he attended Cambridge for two terms where he studied engineering in a programme that was specially designed for ex-servicemen. He later returned to the Royal Naval College as an adult learner. He maintained an interest in education as between 1967 and 1978 he was president of an international educational body, the United World Colleges. He also showed an interest in technology in that he was a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers and in 1939 was granted a patent for a system which ensured that the distance between two ships could be kept constant.

Although he became associated with stories of a plot to stage a coup d’état against the Labour government which created the OU his presence in 1970, opening the OU buildings in Milton Keynes, underlined that the OU was not simply an important element of a democratic socialist project. He was a a reminder of the importance of  its international and economic roles and its appeal to prescient technocrats.  The OU has many connections and, just as the Royal Charter bolstered its respectability, so too did this link to Mountbatten.

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