Northern Ireland

Prince Charles visits Lord Mountbatten 1979 IRA murder site

Duke and Duchess of Cornwall Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall visited the site of the explosion in 1979

Prince Charles has visited the place in the Republic of Ireland where his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten was murdered by the IRA in 1979.

It was the first time he has visited Mullaghmore in County Sligo.

The prince said earlier that the compassion shown by people there "has done much to aid the healing process".

He said the murder of his great-uncle and three others had given him a profound understanding of how people affected by the Troubles suffered.

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Media caption"It seemed as if the foundations of all we held dear in life had been torn apart irreparably" - Prince Charles

The IRA detonated a bomb on a fishing boat at Mullaghmore on 27 August 1979, killing Lord Mountbatten, his 14-year-old grandson, Nicholas Knatchbull, and 15-year-old Paul Maxwell. The Dowager Lady Brabourne died the day after the attack.

On the same day, 18 British soldiers were killed as two booby-trap bombs exploded beside Narrow Water Castle, near Warrenpoint in County Down.

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Media captionPaul Maxwell's mother, Mary Hornsey, said she would not have missed the visit for the world

Paul Maxwell's mother, Mary Hornsey, said she felt "such a sense of healing" after the events on Wednesday.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten was known to family and close friends as Dickie

Who was Lord Mountbatten?

Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, has been described as uncle and godfather to the Prince of Wales. In fact he was neither.

Lord Mountbatten was Prince Charles's great-uncle, through his father. He was also second cousin once removed to the Queen.

His mother was one of the prince's godparents.

As well as his close links to the Royal Family, Lord Mountbatten was a British statesman. He served as the last Viceroy of India and was appointed as the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Defence Staff.

He would spend his summers at Classiebawn castle, overlooking Mullaghmore in County Sligo, a family house of his wife Edwina.

Read the full profile of Lord Mountbatten.

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Media captionIt was the first time Prince Charles has visited Mullaghmore in County Sligo

The prince's visit to the scene of the IRA explosion, held in private, came on the second day of his four-day visit to the island of Ireland, north and south.

On Tuesday, he shook hands with the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in Galway, in a major conciliatory step in the Northern Ireland peace process.

Analysis: Peter Hunt, royal correspondent

"I do wish I could come and see it", Prince Charles wrote to Lord Mountbatten about Classiebawn Castle, his godfather's County Sligo summer residence.

"I know I would be captivated by it".

The letter was sent in 1979.

In Mullaghmore, this afternoon, the prince belatedly fulfilled that wish and he also met some of the people who responded to the slaughter at sea more than three decades ago.

This was a personal pilgrimage by a future British king to an Irish seaside village in honour of a relative he adored.

It was also about achieving yet another little step along the path of an improving relationship between Britain and Ireland.

It's what this royal visit has been about.

Prince Charles summed it up when he quoted these lines by the Sligo poet W B Yeats: "And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow."

Read more from Peter

Earlier on Wednesday, the prince told a civic reception in Sligo: "At the time I could not imagine how we could come to terms with the anguish of such a deep loss, since for me Lord Mountbatten represented the grandfather I never had.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Prince Charles met Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in Galway

"It seemed as if the foundations of all that we held dear in life had been torn apart irreparably.

"Through this experience, I now understand in a profound way the agonies borne by so many others in these islands, of whatever faith, denomination or political tradition."

The prince said the island of Ireland had "more than its fair share of turbulence and troubles", and "those directly affected don't easily forget the pain".

"Recent years have shown us though that healing is possible, even when the heartache continues," he said.

On the second day of the royal couple's visit to the island of Ireland, they also attended a service of peace and reconciliation at St Columba's Church in Drumcliffe, where they visited the grave of Irish poet WB Yeats.

The prince and the duchess ended the second day of their visit with some horseracing at the Sligo Races.

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