Lord Mountbatten and one of his twin grandsons, Nicholas, 14, and Paul Maxwell, 15, a local employed as a boat boy were killed when a bomb planted by the IRA exploded on their leisure boat in Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Ireland on 27 August 1979. Another passenger, Baroness Brabourne, 82, died the day after the attack.
As a high profile member of the royal family, and with strong military connections, Mountbatten, who had been on holiday at the time, was seen as a legitimate target by the IRA.
Mountbatten was a strong influence in the upbringing of his grand-nephew, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and later as a mentor—”Honorary Grandfather” and “Honorary Grandson”, they fondly called each other according to the Jonathan Dimbleby biography of the Prince—though according to both the Ziegler biography of Mountbatten and the Dimbleby biography of the Prince, the results may have been mixed. He from time to time strongly upbraided the Prince for showing tendencies towards the idle pleasure-seeking dilettantism of his predecessor as Prince of Wales, King Edward VIII, whom Mountbatten had known well in their youth. Yet he also encouraged the Prince to enjoy the bachelor life while he could and then to marry a young and inexperienced girl so as to ensure a stable married life.
Mountbatten’s qualification for offering advice to this particular heir to the throne was unique; it was he who had arranged the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Dartmouth Royal Naval College on 22 July 1939, taking care to include the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in the invitation, but assigning his nephew, Cadet Prince Philip of Greece, to keep them amused while their parents toured the facility. This was the first recorded meeting of Charles’s future parents. But a few months later, Mountbatten’s efforts nearly came to naught when he received a letter from his sister Alice in Athens informing him that Philip was visiting her and had agreed to permanently repatriate to Greece. Within days, Philip received a command from his cousin and sovereign, King Geórgios II of the Hellenes, to resume his naval career in Britain which, though given without explanation, the young prince obeyed.
In 1974, Mountbatten began corresponding with Charles about a potential marriage to his granddaughter, Hon. Amanda Knatchbull. It was about this time he also recommended that the 25-year-old prince get on with “sowing some wild oats”. Charles dutifully wrote to Amanda’s mother (who was also his godmother), Lady Brabourne, about his interest. Her answer was supportive, but advised him that she thought her daughter still rather young to be courted.
In February 1975, Charles visited New Delhi to play polo and was shown around the Presidential Palace by Mountbatten.
Four years later Mountbatten secured an invitation for himself and Amanda to accompany Charles on his planned 1980 tour of India. Their fathers promptly objected. Prince Philip thought that the Indian public’s reception would more likely reflect response to the uncle than to the nephew. Lord Brabourne counselled that the intense scrutiny of the press would be more likely to drive Mountbatten’s godson and granddaughter apart than together.
Charles was re-scheduled to tour India alone, but Mountbatten did not live to the planned date of departure. When Charles finally did propose marriage to Amanda later in 1979, the circumstances were changed, and she refused him.