By the time the new biography of Queen Elizabeth's cousin, the late war hero Lord Louis Mountbatten, is published later this month, there is likely to be a run on the book, since enticing installments in The Sunday Times of London continue to reveal racy aspects of his life. One wonders if the Mountbatten stories came up last week when the queen went on an extensive tour of The Times of London with publisher Rupert Murdoch, who owns both the Sunday Times and The Times. She was there to mark the bicentenary of the paper. The newest Mountbatten excerpt deals with the generally known "intensely loving" relationship Mountbatten's wife, Edwina, had with India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

The book "Mountbatten" by Philip Ziegler, from which the excerpts have been taken, is based in part on Mountbatten's private letters. Mountbatten, England's last viceroy to India, encouraged the relationship between Nehru and his wife, according to the letters. In one, he wrote that the couple was "so sweet together" that he always made it easy for them to see each other. Earlier accounts of the Mountbatten story reported that he and his wife, who died in 1960, had numerous extramarital affairs. Apparently with some strange sense of history in mind, Edwina, eight years before she died, entrusted her husband to keep Nehru's letters to her.