Queen's cousin wanted united Ireland
Lord Mountbatten -- who was assassinated by the IRA in 1979 -- privately wished for a united Ireland, according to newly-released secret files.
The British queen's cousin told the Irish Ambassador to London in 1972 he would be happy to help with efforts to secure a lasting peace.
Just seven years later the 79-year-old was blown up, along with two teenage boys, while on board his boat off the Sligo village of Mullaghmore.
But Mountbatten was hopeful in the early '70s that political developments would lead to reunification, according to papers just released into the National Archives.
The then Irish Ambassador to London Donal O'Sullivan told the Department of Foreign Affairs about his meeting with the earl at a banquet given by the queen at Windsor Castle on April 11, 1972.
Paraphrasing their conversation, he said Mountbatten hoped British Prime Minister Edward Heath's approach to the North would secure reunification.
"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," Mr O'Sullivan wrote.
"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 co-operate."
Mountbatten was also the Duke of Edinburgh's uncle as well as a close friend and mentor to his great-nephew, the Prince of Wales.
Mr O'Sullivan painted a picture, through regular dispatches in the early '70s, of a broad desire among senior figures in the British establishment for eventual reunification.
In one report from a meeting with Mr Heath on August 1, 1972, he wrote: "He then talked freely about reunification, which he is confident must come about."
Mr Heath recalled he told the Taoiseach at Chequers "his long-held personal view" that joining the EEC would inevitably help reunification.
Former Ulster Unionist Prime Minister of the North Terence O'Neill also believed a united Ireland was inevitable, according to the State papers.
The Irish ambassador said the then Lord O'Neill of the Maine confided in him during lunch on June 27, 1972 at the ambassador's London home.
He paraphrased Lord O'Neill as saying: "What we in the South must realise is that there are no Wolfe Tones among the Northern Protestants and we should, therefore, do everything we can to discourage any idea that there is a speedy path towards reunification. It will come but in its own time."