Lord Mountbatten’s assassination shocks royal family in 1979
Louis Mountbatten was very influential in the Royal Family as the Queen’s third cousin, Prince Philip’s uncle and a mentor to Prince Charles. The Crown season four features his assassination in episode one, focusing on the devastating impact it had on the Royal Family. In particular, it suggests his legacy was that Prince Charles should put his personal feelings aside and just marry an appropriate future Queen, hence the marriage to Diana.
Mountbatten’s opinion on this may have carried even more weight after he was killed by the IRA, one of their highest profile attacks during The Troubles.
The attack happened while Mountbatten was on holiday at Classiebawn Castle near Mullaghmore in County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland, where he went each summer.
During his annual stay in 1979, a bomb was placed on his boat Shadow V and detonated on August 27.
The explosion killed not only Mountbatten himself, aged 79, but also his 14-year-old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, a 15-year-old Northern Irish schoolboy who was helping out on the boat and another relative, the Dowager Lady Doreen Brabourne.
READ MORE: Lord Mountbatten ‘ignored warnings he was IRA target’
Lord Mounbatten was killed by the IRA in 1979
Mountbatten and his family at Classiebawn Castle
Mountbatten’s daughter, son-in-law and Nicholas’ twin brother survived with serious injuries.
However, what is particularly ironic about this attack was that Mountbatten was actually in favour of a united Ireland, which was the IRA’s ultimate goal, and against the policy of the UK’s Government and monarchy.
Graham Yuill, who was a close protection officer in the British Army at the time, carried out a risk assessment a month before Mountbatten was killed in which he identified Shadow V as a risk.
Mr Yuill told Express.co.uk he was aware of Mounbatten’s views on a united Ireland and that the royal even considered himself to be the ideal mediator for such an arrangement.
Mountbatten and his family out fishing
He claimed Lord Mountbatten was a “Hibernophile”, someone who is fond of Ireland and its culture.
The former bodyguard said: “Mounbatten believed in the same goal as Irish Republicans and saw himself as the ideal mediator to bring about a United Ireland, contrary to the policy of the British government and monarchy.”
Mr Yuill told Express.co.uk that it was known Lord Mountbatten was number 10 on the IRA hit list in 1979, due to evidence found in Maze Prison in Belfast.
He had hatched a plan to protect Mountbatten by allowing the IRA to get hold of this information, hopefully putting them off him as a target and removing him from the list completely.
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The harbour where Mountbatten departed on Shadow V on August 27, 1979
The splintered remains of Shadow V
He had a contact in the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) of the British Army who worked part-time on the IRA wing at Maze Prison.
He said: “I told him Mountbatten’s views and promised to bring proof when I entered his circle.
“He passed on the intelligence to the paramilitaries housed in the H-blocks.
“My responsibility was the security of Mountbatten, number 10 on that IRA hit list.
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“I could think of no better protection than to get him off the list, and to avoid being taken out myself if my cover were compromised.”
However, his plan went wrong when he told the UDR commander’s wife Mary what he had done.
Not long after, Mr Yuill was transferred to Hong Kong and his security report, which correctly identified Mountbatten’s fishing boat Shadow V as a threat, was ignored.
He told Express.co.uk: “In a weak moment I have always regretted, I had told the commander’s wife Mary my plan to inform contacts in the Maze Prison that Mounbatten supported a united Ireland.
Lord Mounbatten with his grandchildren, Nicholas Knatchbull on the left
“She would no doubt have reported that.
“This detail was well known, but not by the rank and file.
“My friendship with [Brigadier] David and Mary Miller was dubious, even dangerous.
“The general said he would be in ‘grave danger’ if it ever leaked out he had told me information compromising Mountbatten.
“Far away in the Far East, there was no one to share confidences with.”
Mr Yuill’s comments are backed up by papers in the National Archives in Dublin seen by The Guardian newspaper in 2007, which reported that Mountbatten told Irish ambassador Donal O’Sullivan seven years before his death that he hoped the policies of the Edward Heath Government would ultimately achieve Irish unity.
In the papers, O’Sullivan is quoted as saying: “Lord Mountbatten said he wished me to know that he and many of his friends have been deeply impressed by the positive Dublin reaction to the Heath initiative.
“They hope that this can be developed into a ‘major advance towards the final solution’.
“Reunification is the only eventual solution. If there is anything he can do to help he will be most happy to cooperate.”