Sunday 18 March 2018

Mountbatten murder had 'profound impact' on Prince, says author

Lord Louis Mountbatten
Lord Louis Mountbatten
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

The IRA assassination of Prince Charles's 'honorary grandfather' in Sligo in 1979, had a profound impact on the future king of Britain, a controversial new biography claims.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Catherine Mayer, author of Charles: The Heart of a King, said: "Part of the story of Prince Charles, the story of who he is today, is set in Ireland because the assassination of Mountbatten was one of the first huge traumas for him."

Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma - a British statesman and naval officer - was Prince Charles' "young and dashing" grand-uncle, with whom he had an "extraordinarily close relationship". During a family fishing trip at his seat in Classiebawn Castle in Sligo in 1979, Lord Mountbatten was targeted by the IRA "as a representative of the oppressive English establishment".

"The whole family went out on a boat and it was blown up, leaving members either injured or killed," said Ms Mayer, who spoke to his grandson, Timothy Knatchbull - a survivor of the explosion - who is also "very close" to Prince Charles.

The London-based journalist with Time magazine describes the event as part of the Irish conflict that "visited him very viscerally" at a very key stage of his life - around the age of 30.

"He lost one of the people that was sort of his substitute parent."

According to Mayer, who penned the Enda Kenny cover for Time, the insight also makes the Queen's visit to Ireland all the more interesting. "You have to understand that her meeting Sinn Fein and everything wasn't just an empty symbolic gesture, this was a real gesture of reconciliation because the royals directly lost somebody."

In the newly released book, Lord Mountbatten is considered a man "like Prince Philip in many ways, but without the edges". He also encouraged Charles by giving him good, and some bad, advice about life and women when his parents were taken away by duty.

The author said: "He was one of the those people who thought Prince Charles should marry someone young and virginal, he believed that a woman should be put on a pedestal after marriage. In other words, he motivated the young prince to sow his wild oats."

However, the man Prince Charles fondly called his "honorary grandfather" was killed before he could see him following that advice, "with predictably unfortunate consequences down the line", Mayer said.

A review of the book - that describes the Prince's court as "Wolf Hall" - is in this weekend's Living section.

Sunday Independent

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