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Netflix's The Crown must be truthful over Mountbatten IRA atrocity, mum of boy victim urges


Mary Hornsey alongside a portrait of her son Paul

Mary Hornsey alongside a portrait of her son Paul


Mary Hornsey alongside a portrait of her son Paul

The mother of a boy murdered by the IRA alongside Lord Mountbatten has called on the producers of The Crown to put the truth on screen.

Paul Maxwell (15) from Fermanagh was working as a boat boy in the Co Sligo village of Mullaghmore when an IRA bomb exploded on Mountbatten's Shadow V fishing boat on August 27, 1979.

Paul's mother Mary Hornsey also revealed how one man she believes to be directly responsible for the bomb visited the family cottage with an ineffective warning to keep her son away before the attack.

Mountbatten's 14-year-old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull was also killed, with the Dowager Lady Brabourne (83) dying of her injuries the next day.

Within hours of the attack 18 soldiers were killed in an IRA bomb ambush at Narrow Water in Co Down.

The Mountbatten assassination is to be portrayed in the upcoming series of the Netflix royal drama. Ms Hornsey said it could be "positive" for a large audience to hear the story, if it was done respectfully.

"I think that it should be portrayed truthfully," she said.

"There are two aspects of truth - the kind that we can make up that we want to see (on screen) and the actual truth.

"I think that is very important. I also think that the emotion involved in something so great as that should come over."

She said the tragedy had caused "great waves" of pain at the time, not only for the family but for close friends.

"Paul's best friend that he had at the time never got another friend," she said. "He could never, ever get that attachment again that he had with Paul.

"I think it's important to get that message out that they should not murder, they should not kill. Especially children."

The last series of The Crown was praised for its sensitive portrayal of the Aberfan disaster of 1966 that caused the death of 144, most of them children.

Asked if this gave her confidence in how the Mountbatten storyline would be handled, she said: "It's very hard to prophesise anything like that. I don't know whether the programme's going to be respectful until I actually see it.

"I would hope that it would be because there are very many sensitive issues. A lot of people like myself are still grieving over that and probably always will. So it should be handled with sensitivity and yet truth as well."

Ms Hornsey said she believed more than two people were involved in the plot to kill Lord Mountbatten.

"About 20 years ago, I heard from a guy from Television Cologne called Hans and he actually went down to Mullaghmore.

"He went down not as a journalist, but as a German tourist and he found out quite a lot.

"He said there were at least 40 people involved in it. He also interviewed one man who had kept a 'souvenir' of the tragedy, which was a piece of the Shadow V.

"Apparently, he showed it to tourists. It is very shocking, I could not believe that, especially when the person quoted to have done this dreadful act had appeared to be a friend of Paul's father, which made it even worse."

On the apparent warning from the IRA, she said one man she believes to be responsible visited the family cottage to say Paul shouldn't be working on Mountbatten's boat.

"They suggested that Paul was 'too young to be doing that job, he should not be there'," she said.

"It actually was a warning but we did not see it as such because one never expects that such a terrible atrocity was going to happen.

"It was beyond belief that it would happen down in Mullaghmore, with holidaymakers going there for peace and quiet.

"It wasn't just associated with the barbaric act that was committed. It came as a great shock. In fact, some people never went back to Mullaghmore after that."

The family had stayed away from Mullaghmore until a commemoration on the 40th anniversary last year attended by Prince Charles, who Lord Mountbatten had been a close mentor to.

"I was absolutely overcome by the love that people showed our family and how they talked about the tragedy," said Ms Hornsey.

"They were so kind and almost apologetic for what had happened in the little seaside resort where they lived.

"I was very, very touched by that. And so, at some stage, I think I would like to visit Mullaghmore again.

"I don't think I would like to be on holiday in the place, I would find that difficult in finding enjoyment when my son was killed there.

"But I would go down if there was a function or something like that on an anniversary, that would bring me back."

Ms Hornsey has yet to watch The Crown, and was not contacted ahead of filming.

Asked if she should have been consulted, she said: "It's difficult to say. I think that if it was touching on very sensitive topics then perhaps it might have been a good idea to get in contact."

In September actor Charles Dance, who played Tywin Lannister in Game Of Thrones, was seen reprising his role as Mountbatten, with Keiss Harbour in Scotland doubling as Mullaghmore.

The release date of the new series has yet to be announced.

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