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Prince Charles makes poignant pilgrimage to Mullaghmore scene of great-uncle Mountbatten's murder

Emotional visit to village of IRA bomb

By Adrian Rutherford

On a day heavy with emotion, the future king made a poignant pilgrimage to the picturesque harbour village where his great-uncle was murdered by the IRA.

Prince Charles was warmly greeted as he arrived in Mullaghmore on the west coast of Co Sligo.

An emotional Prince Charles during the visit to Mullaghmore
An emotional Prince Charles during the visit to Mullaghmore

The visit came almost 36 years after the bombing which killed the man he affectionately described as the grandfather he never had.

The prince met members of the community who helped in the rescue operation after Lord Louis Mountbatten's boat was blown up.

He also met relatives of some of the three others who died in the bombing.

It was the most poignant leg of a four-day visit to Ireland by the prince and the Duchess of Cornwall, which continues today when they travel north.

Last night the brief stop-off was hailed as a huge step forward in Anglo-Irish relations.

A place of beauty, Mullaghmore has long been burdened by its past and the terrible events of August 1979.

Lord Mountbatten died when the IRA blew up his fishing boat the Shadow V as it sailed in the waters off Mullaghmore.

Nicholas Knatchbull, the earl's 14-year-old grandson, and his friend Paul Maxwell, a schoolboy from Enniskillen, who had worked on preparing the royal boat for fishing, were also killed.

The Dowager Lady Brabourne (83), the mother-in-law of Lord Mountbatten's daughter, died a day later.

Yesterday's visit was seen as a highly symbolic yet hugely personal journey for the prince, reaching out across decades of hurt.

Earlier, he had reflected on his sense of loss.

"At the time I could not imagine how we would come to terms with the anguish of such a deep loss since, for me, Lord Mountbatten represented the grandfather I never had," he told an audience in Sligo.

The remarks came ahead of a peace and reconciliation prayer service in nearby Drumcliffe attended by Charles and Camilla.

From St Columba's church, where the royal couple paused at the grave of literary great WB Yeats, they travelled northward to Mullaghmore.

The visit took place amid a backdrop of tight security, following the arrest of six people last week over an alleged dissident IRA plot. A helicopter kept watch overhead while scores of gardai patrolled the normally sleepy seaside community.

After a private visit to Lord Mountbatten's summer retreat of Classiebawn Castle they arrived in the village around 5pm.

Among those who greeted the prince was Peter McHugh, one of those most closely associated with efforts to rescue the Mountbatten party.

The couple also met Kevin Henry, a retired garda who was on security detail for Lord Mountbatten when the IRA struck.

He saw the aftermath of the bomb from the headland above the village. Others included Elizabeth and Richard Woodmartin who pulled Timothy Knatchbull from the water after his brother Nicholas suffered fatal injuries.

Mr Knatchbull accompanied Charles and Camilla on their short tour of Mullaghmore with his wife Isabella.

Members of Paul Maxwell's family, including his father John and mother Mary, met Prince Charles privately in the Pier Head Hotel.

At the slipway to the harbour, from where Lord Mountbatten set out to sea that morning, Mr McHugh pointed out the area around the bay to the prince.

Afterwards Mr McHugh told the Belfast Telegraph that he hoped it could heal decades-old wounds. "It was at times quite an emotional occasion because it just brought back the memories of what happened on the day. Today is just another step on the healing process," he said.

Mr McHugh said Prince Charles had expressed contentment at visiting Mullaghmore.

"He mentioned several times the fact that he thought he would never be in a position to come here, so obviously it's been something on his mind for quite some time," he added.

"I think he's hugely relieved that he has come here and I think it will be of huge benefit to him."

Recovery of the body of Lord Mountbatten, killed in an explosion on his boat by the IRA. (1979). FILE PIC.
Recovery of the body of Lord Mountbatten, killed in an explosion on his boat by the IRA. (1979). FILE PIC.
Lord Louis Mountbatten
MSI Earl Mountbatten Funeral
Noel Coward(left) with Earl Mountbatten of Burma.
11th May 1937: Lord Louis Mountbatten chats to a spectator at a polo match at Hurlingham. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
File photo dated 20/11/1947 of Princess Elizabeth, now Queen, and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, now the Duke of Edinburgh, at Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will mark their diamond wedding anniversary with a special service of thanksgiving next week. Retracing their footsteps down the aisle, the royal couple will return to Westminster Abbey, where they married 60 years ago. See PA Story ROYAL Anniversary. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 20/11/1947 Princess Elizabeth, now Queen, and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, now the Duke of Edinburgh with their eight bridesmaids in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace, on their wedding day. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will mark their diamond wedding anniversary with a special service of thanksgiving next week. Retracing their footsteps down the aisle, the royal couple will return to Westminster Abbey, where they married 60 years ago. See PA Story ROYAL Anniversary. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Lady Edwina Mountbatten (1901 - 1960) with Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 - 1964) at a reception given for him by the Indian High Commissioner in London at Kensington Palace Gardens, 11th February 1955. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
In this file photo taken in August 1947 and released by Indian Ministry of Defense, Indian last Governor General Lord Mountbatten salutes the Indian national flag hosted at India Gate as Lady Edwina, second right, and India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru,right, looks on, during independence day celebrations, in New Delhi, India, August 1947. Sixty years ago this month, India and Pakistan won their Independence, now Pakistan, no stranger to domestic turmoil, is embroiled in an increasingly violent struggle between Islamic extremists and moderates, where as India is racing to become an economic powerhouse, lightning growth has transformed the country and fueled a consumer boom. (AP Photo/Indian Ministry of Defense, HO, File)
Britain Queen Elizabeth II...Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, right, and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, centre with back to camera, are greeted on their arrival at London Airort, on Feb. 7, 1952. The royal couple cut short their official trip to Kenya and returned home following the death of King George VI. Prince Philip is talking to Earl Mountbatten of Burma, left. (AP Photo)...A
14th March 1956: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 - 1964) and Dr Radhakrishnan (1888 - 1975) welcoming Viscount Louis Mountbatten (1900 - 1979) and his wife to India at New Delhi Airport. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
PACEMAKER PRESS INTL BELFAST 26/8/09. A Collect of Paul Maxwell with his sister Lisa , who was murdered with Lord Louis Mountbatten by an IRA bomb while sailing near his holiday home in County Sligo, Ireland, on 27th August, 1979
Royal visit to Ireland...Classiebawn Castle in Mullaghmore Co Sligo which used to be owned by Lord Mountbatten as the town is to be visited by the Prince Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall later this month. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 15, 2015. See PA story ROYAL Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire...A
PACEMAKER PRESS INTL BELFAST 26/8/09. Mary Hornsey 'The Mother of Paul Maxwell, who was murdered with Lord Louis Mountbatten by an IRA bomb while sailing near his holiday home in County Sligo, Ireland, on 27th August, 1979
PACEMAKER PRESS INTL BELFAST 26/8/09. A Collect of Paul Maxwell,It was the last ever picture taken of him who was murdered with Lord Louis Mountbatten by an IRA bomb while sailing near his holiday home in County Sligo, Ireland, on 27th August, 1979
View of a page from the book of register, showing the wedding of Princess Elizabeth, now Queen, and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, now the Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday November 13, 2007. Issue date: Friday November 16, 2007. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will mark their diamond wedding anniversary with a special service of thanksgiving next week. Retracing their footsteps down the aisle, the royal couple will return to Westminster Abbey, where they married 60 years ago. See PA Story ROYAL Anniversary. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
File photo dated 31/10/1947 of Princess Elizabeth, now Queen, and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, RN, now the Duke of Edinburgh, receiving a wedding present of an electric sewing machine at Clydebank town hall where they were launching the liner 'Caronia.' PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will mark their diamond wedding anniversary with a special service of thanksgiving next week. Retracing their footsteps down the aisle, the royal couple will return to Westminster Abbey, where they married 60 years ago. See PA Story ROYAL Anniversary. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Lord Mountbatten in navy uniform 1965
Library filer from 1965 of Earl Mountbatten of Burma. The Irish Government rejected an offer from Lord Mountbatten for the free use of his castle in County Sligo, according to newly-released files. The former Earl of Burma, who was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979, had inherited Classiebawn Castle after the death of his wife. He wrote to the Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave in March 1975 to offer the castle to the state as a gesture to cement his family's close connection with Ireland.
File photo dated 20/11/1947 of Princess Elizabeth, now Queen, and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, now the Duke of Edinburgh, at Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will mark their diamond wedding anniversary with a special service of thanksgiving next week. Retracing their footsteps down the aisle, the royal couple will return to Westminster Abbey, where they married 60 years ago.

Tony Heenan, a consultant at Sligo General Hospital who helped to revive the injured from Shadow V, also met the couple.

"It doesn't matter where you come from or who you are, it's still a huge loss, and it sometimes can't be measured," he said.

Mr Heenan said he hoped yesterday's events brought Prince Charles comfort. "I think that's what everyone wants - the healing. It takes a little time and it can be difficult, but it does happen and it will happen, and he has all the signs of a man who has been healed."

Further reading

Charles and Camilla show winning form at race meeting

Prince Charles visit can inspire politicians to move forwards

General Mike Jackson who witnessed Narrow Water aftermath salutes Prince Charle's bravery

Prince Charles asked to meet girl bereaved by Paras on Bloody Sunday

Parents of Mullaghmore schoolboy victim Paul Maxwell say event keeps his memory alive

Prince Charles buries a ghost of his past to lay a milestone on path to peace

Prince Charles: 'Through this dreadful experience, I now understand the agonies borne by so many others in these islands'

Prince Charles makes poignant pilgrimage to scene of great-uncle Mountbatten's murder  

 

 

 

 

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