Prince Charles: The compassion shown by Mullaghmore community aided 'the healing process' for Lord Mountbatten's family
The Prince of Wales has spoke movingly about the loss of his beloved great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, describing him as “the Grandfather I never had”.
Speaking in Sligo today, Prince Charles revealed how the assassination of Lord Mountbatten along with four others including his grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, Dorothy Brabourne and Paul Maxwell had rocked his family.
“In August 1979, my much-loved great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, was killed alongside his young grandson and my godson, Nicholas, and his friend, Paul Maxwell, and Nicholas’s grandmother, the Dowager Lady Brabourne.
“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,” he said.
Speaking at his first engagement at the Model art centre in Sligo, Charles said; “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.”
Prince Charles will visit Mullaghmore later today and told those gathered he was looking forward to it.
He said that despite the tragedy of August 1979, Lord Mountbatten and his family had memories of “great happiness” in Classiebawn Castle and Mullaghmore going back to 1976.
And following the bombing, the “extraordinary outpouring” of compassion and sympathy shown by the local community to Lord Mountbatten’s family and the Maxwell family had “done much to aid the healing process”.
“I look forward to seeing, at last, the place that he and they so loved and to meeting its inhabitants,” he added.
During his address, the Prince also attempted an old Irish saying much to the delight of his audience.
“As we have been reminded throughout this visit – and do forgive my attempt at coining a new Seanfhocal – Ní bhíonn strainseirí anseo ach carda nar aithíonn leat -There are no strangers here, only friends that you haven’t yet met,” he added.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan also emphasised peace and reconciliation in his address.
At a civic reception hosted by Sligo County Council, the Minister pointed to the “warm, neighbourly, dynamic and improving” relations Ireland and Britain enjoy today.
However, he also noted the “dark moments” which cast a shadow across cities and towns in both countries, describing the “contentious legacy of the past” as issues that will challenges us.
He said he hoped today’s service of peace and reconciliation in St Columba’s Chruch in Drumcliffe and the later visit to Mullaghmore Harbour, where Charles lost his great uncle Lord Mountbatten and godson Nicholas Knatchbull in an IRA bombing in 1979, would bring “further healing”.
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"As you travel up the Sligo coast today to an ecumenical service of reconciliation at Drumcliffe and onwards to beautiful Mullaghmore, you will see just why Lord Mountbatten loved the harbour and its community so much,” he added.
Mr Joe Queenan, Chairman of Sligo County Council welcomed the royal couple to “the land remembered in verse by WB Yeats and on canvas by Jack B Yeats”.
He described the royal visit as “a milestone in the reconciliation process, one that cements a new phase in our relationship”.
During the visit, the royal couple were treated to a music composition created especially for the event. “It is Sligo's gift to you and one that is full of meaning and symbolism,” explained Mr Queenan.
The three pieces, composed by Michael Rooney, covered the queen’s visit, an interpretation of the Yeats poem He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven and a final peace on loss and reconciliation.
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The final piece incorporated a lament, entitled Lord Mountbatten, which “acknowledged a pained and troubled past” before moving seamlessly into a second upbeat and positive piece entitled ‘Reconciliation”.
“Music makes audible what ultimately becomes visible,” said Mr Queenan.
Thanking the musicians for the pieces, Charles said they would “remember and treasure it for the rest of our lives”.
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