How Lord Louis Mountbatten’s brutal murder changed Prince Charles’ life forever

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The new season of The Crown begins in 1979 and it becomes very clear, very quickly, that the Royal Family are very concerned about Prince Charles' love life.

One person who is chiefly concerned with the future of the Prince of Wales (Josh O'Connor) is his great-uncle, Louis 'Dickie' Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, played by Charles Dance.

Being the maternal uncle of Charles' father Prince Philip ( Tobias Menzies ), he had occupied a paternal relationship with both Philip and his son.

By the time of the fourth season, he is Charles' chief confidante, even though heir to the throne Charles resents Mountbatten's advice about finding a suitable bride and future Queen.

The pair have increasingly tense words before – to Charles' horror – Lord Mountbatten is killed on his boat off the coast of Ireland by a bomb planted by the IRA.

Charles Dance reprises his role as Lord Mountbatten one last time in The Crown season 4
(Image: Des Willie/Netflix)

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Afterwards, Charles reads a final letter from Mountbatten where he urges Charles to embrace his duty.

So, just how much of what is depicted is true and what was the real-life impact of Mountbatten's death on the Prince of Wales?

The real-life Charles and Mountbatten were very close, with the elder statesman of the family proving to be a mentor and "honorary grandfather" to the Prince of Wales, according to Charles' biographer Jonathan Dimbleby.

Prior to events surrounding his death, Mountbatten had approved of Charles' affair with Camilla Shand but he had other ideas in mind for his wife.

British race car driver Graham Hill talks with Lord Louis Mountbatten (1900 – 1979) and his 'honorary grandson', Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
(Image: Getty Images)

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In fact, while not depicted in The Crown, Mountbatten had plans for Charles to marry his granddaughter, Amanda Knatchbull.

According to Mountbatten's private secretary John Barratt: "Mountbatten knew Camilla would make a perfect mistress for Charles until Amanda was of marriageable age, so he gave the blossoming love affair his blessing."

However, as Charles began to feel seriously towards Camilla, Mountbatten intervened and arranged a distant naval posting for the Prince of Wales to enable things to cool down, according to author Sarah Bradford.

Prince Charles was encouraged by Lord Mountbatten to 'sow his wild oats'
(Image: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

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Mountbatten had told Charles to enjoy "sowing some wild oats" with frivolous affairs before settling down with the right woman, warning him to avoid the behaviour of the previous Prince of Wales, King Edward VIII and later the Duke of Windsor following his abdication to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

A letter to the Prince of Wales from Mountbatten read: "In a case like yours, the man should sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can before settling down, but for a wife he should choose a suitable, attractive, and sweet-charactered girl before she has met anyone else she might fall for."

Lord Louis Mountbatten had strong feelings on Prince Charles' romantic life
(Image: PA)

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He opined: "It is disturbing for women to have experiences if they have to remain on a pedestal after marriage."

Charles and Amanda had known each other since childhood and were continually pushed together by Mountbatten prior to his death.

On August 27 1979, Mountbatten was staying at his summer home at Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Ireland, when he went on a boat trip to fish with family members and boat crew.

Before the trip, Irish Republican Army member Thomas McMahon had planted a radio-controlled bomb on the boat and it was successfully detonated – hitting all passengers on the boat.

Lord Mountbatten was killed by a bomb in County Sligo, Ireland in 1979
(Image: Daily Mirror)

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Mountbatten's legs were almost blown off and he was rescued from the water by local fishermen but succumbed to his injuries before they reached the shore.

His 14-year-old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull and 15-year-old crew member Paul Maxwell were also killed by the blast, along with his daughter's mother-in-law Doreen, Dowager Lady Brabourne the following day.

"Lord Louise Mountbatten Captain of HMS Kelly Admiral of the Fleet Viceroy of India hero of Burma Murdered by the IRA 15 SOLDIERS MASSACRED" on the Daily Mirror front page at the time

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The IRA's statement after Mountbatten's death read: "The IRA claim responsibility for the execution of Lord Louis Mountbatten.

"This operation is one of the discriminate ways we can bring to the attention of the English people the continuing occupation of our country."

They added: "The death of Mountbatten and the tributes paid to him will be seen in sharp contrast to the apathy of the British Government and the English people to the deaths of over three hundred British soldiers, and the deaths of Irish men, women, and children at the hands of their forces."

The IRA explained their reasons for killing Lord Mountbatten in a statement following his death
(Image: Getty Images)

Lord Mountbatten and his grandsons (L-R) Nicholas Knatchbull, Ashley Hicks and Timothy Knatchbull, viewing an exhibition at the Engineering Exhibition in the Wembley Conference Centre, London, January 1978.
(Image: Getty)

Meanwhile, weeks later, Sinn Féin's vice-president Gerry Adams commented of Mountbatten's murder: "What the IRA did to him is what Mountbatten had been doing all his life to other people; and with his war record I don't think he could have objected to dying in what was clearly a war situation.

"He knew the danger involved in coming to this country."

Mountbatten's televised ceremonial funeral took place on September 5 1979, with Prince Charles reading Psalm 107 at the funeral service.

Funeral of Lord Mountbatten with The Union flag-draped coffin of Lord Mountatten rests on a catafalque during the funeral service in Westminster Abbey. Royal mourners are (l/r) Queen Elizabeth II, her husband The Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and the Prince of Wales
(Image: PA)

A grieving Charles then went on a national tour of India – which Mountbatten had wanted Amanda to go on with him – before returning and proposing to Amanda.

Having lost multiple family members in the bombing, Amanda was not keen on joining the Royal Family and ultimately chose to turn Charles down.

Following Amanda's rejection, Charles would go on to court another bride in the mould that Mountbatten would have likely favoured: Lady Diana Spencer.

Lord Mountbatten's granddaughter and hoped-for bride to Prince Charles, Amanda Knatchbull
(Image: Getty)

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This romance blossomed after the tumultuous losses that Charles had endured, with the Prince having previously met Diana when dating her elder sister, Lady Sarah Spencer.

Speaking in Andrew Morton's Diana: Her True Story, Diana recalled of a meeting in Sussex in 1980: "He’d just broken up with his girlfriend and his friend Mountbatten had just been killed. I said it would be nice to see him.

"We were talking about Mountbatten and his girlfriend and I said, ‘You must be so lonely.’ I said, ‘It’s pathetic watching you walking up the aisle with Mountbatten’s coffin in front, ghastly, you need someone beside you.’

"Whereupon he leapt upon me and started kissing me and I thought, urgh, this is not what people do. And he was all over me for the rest of the evening, following me around like a puppy."

Charles got engaged to Lady Diana Spencer less than two years after Lord Mountbatten's death
(Image: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

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Despite a short romance and 12-year age difference, Charles and Diana's engagement was announced in February 1981.

The Prince of Wales looked as if he would fulfill Mounbatten's wishes, but alas as history tells us, the marriage of Charles and Diana was destined to end in tragedy.

The Crown season 4 is available now on Netflix.