Wednesday 17 January 2018

'We're friends now,' say locals as Charles to visit Mountbatten spot

Relatives of forgotten bomb victim hope to meet the royal

File photo: Britain's Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall as they are to visit the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in May, Clarence House has announced
File photo: Britain's Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall as they are to visit the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in May, Clarence House has announced

PRINCE Charles and Camilla will next month visit the scene of the bomb attack that killed Lord Mountbatten, with relatives of a forgotten victim that day saying they hope to meet the royal.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and the prince's office Clarence House confirmed the royal couple will spend four days in Ireland, with at least two days on this side of the border.

Exact details of their visit are being kept a closely-guarded secret, but the prince is expected to pause at the spot in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, where his uncle died on August 27, 1979, in an IRA explosion.

His grandson Nicholas, just 14, also died alongside local boy Paul Maxwell (15). Dowager Lady Brabourne (82) died later in hospital.

But the Royal family were rocked by the Troubles again just a few hours later. In Warrenpoint, Co Down, on the same day, the Provisional IRA killed 18 soldiers as two bombs detonated at Narrow Water.

William Michael Hudson, aged 29, was accidentally killed by the British as they returned fire. He was a coachman for the queen and lived with his mother, Patricia Conlon, and his father, Bill Snr, at Buckingham Palace. The dead man's parents were from Sligo.

Bill Snr was the Royal Veterninary Surgeon to Queen Elizabeth's horses and a close friend of the royal family.

William is buried in Sligo. His cousin, Brian Scanlon, hopes to meet Charles and show him the grave.

"I am delighted that he is coming to Sligo," said Brian, a local historian whose family had eight brothers who fought in WWI and other relatives who fought in the War of Independence.


"I am sure Charles knew William. I know he will be here to honour Lord Mountbatten and if at all possible I'd be honoured if he came to see William's grave.

"Our two nations have moved on so much. We are friends now and we need to work together as friends and I think this visit is hugely important."

William's parents later told Brian the queen was very upset at the death, especially as initial media reports said he was an IRA man. He had been on Carlingford Lough bird watching on a break from the palace.

The headstone in Sligo city cemetery also carried the names of eight brothers in the family who fought in WWI. Five of them died in action. In a sunny Mullaghmore yesterday local people remembered the pretty seaside village's darkest day.

"It was a day just like this, very, very calm and blue skies but a little warmer. Shadow V went out from its usual launch-spot in the harbour," said Grainne McHugh, who was a young nurse at the time.

"We heard a bang. I went down to the Pier Head Hotel to help, it became a field hospital. I remember the Dowager and the little twin Timothy Inatchbull waiting in the lobby for an ambulance. I am delighted Prince Charles is coming here. It is important to him."

The royal couple are expected to visit Lissadell House, stopping off at the grave of poet WB Yeats in Drumcliff.

He may also visit Europe's highest sea cliffs at Slieve League in Donegal.

"This visit will represent a further expression of the warm and friendly relations which now exist between us," Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said.

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