Lord Mountbatten: India Hicks recollects day of IRA assassination
More than 40 years ago, at the height of The Troubles, the Irish Republican paramilitary group murdered Louis Mountbatten, a very influential member of the Royal Family. Mountbatten was the Queen’s third cousin, Prince Philip’s uncle and a mentor to Prince Charles. The Crown season four brought attention to this tragedy in its first episode, focusing on the devastating impact it had on the Royal Family.
Andrew Lownie, author of ‘The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves’, told Express.co.uk that the brutal attack actually backfired on the IRA because it lost them considerable support and actually encouraged cooperation north and south of the border.
He said: “It actually backfired on them, because they lost support from their American financial corporations.
“It also meant there was close cross-border cooperation between the British and Irish governments.
“It was a complete own goal.”
READ MORE: Lord Mountbatten was ‘in favour of a united Ireland’ but killed by IRA
Prince Philip’s uncle Lord Mountbatten was assassinated in 1979 along with three others with him
The IRA claimed responsibility for the assassination
This will likely be in part because Mountbatten was not the only casualty of the bomb meant for him ‒ in fact two children also died.
The attack happened while the Earl 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 Brabourne.
Lord Mountbatten out on his fishing boat with his family
Mountbatten’s daughter, son-in-law and his other grandson ‒ Nicholas’ twin brother ‒ survived with serious injuries.
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.
He told Express.co.uk he was aware of Mountbatten’s views on a united Ireland and that the royal even saw himself as the ideal mediator for such an arrangement.
He claimed Lord Mountbatten was a “Hibernophile”, someone who is fond of Ireland and its culture.
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The wreckage of Mountbatten’s fishing boat Shadow V
The former bodyguard said: “Mountbatten believed in the same goal as the 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.”
What makes Mountbatten’s murder and the murder of his family even more tragic is that he was actually warned of the risks before he went to stay in Classiebawn.
He was warned not to go by Scotland Yard, but decided to go anyway, apparently not believing that he was a legitimate IRA target.
What’s more, there were a multitude of security flaws identified by Mr Yuill that went undealt with.
Prince Charles pays tribute to Lord Mountbatten in 2015
For example, after he recorded Shadow V as the most likely target for an assassination attempt, the boat still went unguarded.
He told Express.co.uk: “It became clear that the security weak point was Mountbatten’s 29-foot fishing boat, Shadow V.
“It was moored in a public quay with open access without guards.”
He recommended that there should be round-the-clock covert surveillance on the boat, but claimed this never happened.
He concluded: “After that, well I was sent to Hong Kong. They didn’t know what to do with me.
“So I was sent there to be in charge of a base there and I was informed that I was to speak nothing of it.
“The report was obviously lost in the meantime.”
The Mountbattens: Their Lives & Loves by Andrew Lownie, published by Blink Publishing in 2019. It is available here.