'Losing Mountbatten tore apart the foundations of all we held dear'
Ireland and Britain "need no longer be victims of our difficult history with each other", Prince Charles has said.
Speaking of his own personal loss, the Prince of Wales said he is only too deeply aware of the long history of suffering Ireland has endured.
In an emotive speech at the Model Arts Centre in Sligo, Charles told how the loss of his "much-loved" great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, had rocked his family.
"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. So it seemed as if the foundations of all that we held dear in life had been torn apart irreparably," Prince Charles said.
Acknowledging that those directly affected do not easily forget the pain, he added that recent years had shown that healing was possible "even when the heartache continues".
"Through this dreadful experience, though, I now understand in a profound way the agonies borne by so many others in these islands, of whatever faith, denomination or political persuasion," he added.
He said that despite the tragedy of August 1979, Lord Mountbatten and his family had memories of "great happiness" in Classiebawn Castle and Mullaghmore through the years.
He praised the "extraordinary outpouring" of compassion and support shown by the local community to Lord Mountbatten's family and the Maxwell family adding: "Their loving kindness has done much to aid the healing process."
The deep and broad engagement that now exists between both countries, he said, did not come without an acknowledgement of the years of turmoil.
"Our current, blessed era of friendship and co-operation is not, however, founded on pretending that the past did not happen. We all have regrets," he said.
Prince Charles said he was only too deeply aware of the long history of suffering which Ireland has endured, not just in recent decades but over the course of its history.
"It is a history which, I know, has caused much pain and much resentment in a world of imperfect human beings where it is always too easy to over-generalise and to attribute blame," he added.
But referring to the visit of his mother the Queen to Ireland and President Michael D Higgins's return State visit to the UK last year, Charles said the "success of those visits is clear evidence of the maturity of our relations which are now better than ever".
Quoting WB Yeats, he said: "And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow." He said that as a grandfather, he prayed the words can apply to all those who have been hurt and scarred by the troubles of the past "so that all of us who inhabit these Atlantic islands may leave our grandchildren a legacy of lasting peace, forgiveness and friendship".
During the visit, the royal couple were treated to a musical composition created especially for the event, an experience the prince said they would "treasure" for the rest of their lives.