Lord Mountbatten’s death must ‘bring change’ Prince Philip urged after uncle killed

Lord Mountbatten: India Hicks recollects day of IRA assassination

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Sinn Fein’s leader Mary Lou McDonald today apologised for the IRA’s murder of Philip’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten. The royal was killed in 1979 by the group, along with his 14-year-old grandson. Ms Lou McDonald told Times Radio this morning that the murder was “heartbreaking”.

It marks a dramatic change in dynamic after the party’s former president Gerry Adams refused to apologise for what had happened.

Ms McDonald told Times Radio: “I’m sorry that happened. It was heartbreaking.”

The Times’ Tom Newton Dunn wrote on Twitter: “The IRA have apologised for the civilian deaths it caused during the Troubles, but that didn’t include Mountbatten.

“It has always claimed he was a legitimate target.”

The Royal Family received countless letters of condolences following the murder.

One came from the actor Lionel Jeffries, best known for his role in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

At the time, Philip said that he hoped public outrage over Mountbatten’s murder would cause the IRA to abandon their campaign of violence and restore peace in the North.

Responding to Mr Jeffries’ letter, Philip wrote: “I am most grateful to you for your thoughtful letter of sympathy.

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“Let us hope that the great wave of revulsion against this senseless act of terrorism may yet bring a change of heart in those that believe that violence and brutality are the only solutions to their problems.”

Philip and Lord Mountbatten were extremely close.

He was Philip’s maternal uncle, as the brother of Philip’s mother Princess Alice of Greece and Denmark.

Alice and Louis were members of the Battenberg family, who changed their Germanic surname during World War One to Mountbatten.

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The Duke of Edinburgh, estranged from his parents as a child, chose to adopt the surname of Mountbatten when he became a naturalised British citizen in 1947.

Lord Mountbatten had a long career as a naval officer, and was eventually appointed as the last viceroy of British India.

He was killed after he and one of his twin grandsons, Nicholas, took a boat out fishing in Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Ireland.

Also with them was Paul Maxwell, a 15-year-old local employed as a boat boy.

Another passenger, Baroness Brabourne, 82, died the day after the attack.

The IRA planted a bomb on their boat and detonated it shortly after they departed.

It was followed only hours later by the massacre of 18 British soldiers near Warren Point close to the border with the Irish Republic.

Mountbatten was seen by the IRA as a legitimate target.

The group stated that the “bombing was a discriminate act to bring to the attention of the English people the continuing occupation of our country”.

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