Who Killed Lord Mountbatten?

The assassination is explored in The Crown's Season 4. Here's what happened.

The Crown

by grazia |
Updated on

There are many shocking moments in royal history. Abdications. Affairs. Wars. They’re all covered in The Crown, Netflix’s luscious, lavish drama. But few events were as unexpected and tragic as the death of Lord Mountbatten. Explored in The Crown’s Season 4, it’s an event that went down in history as one of The Queen’s darkest moments. But what really happened to Lord Mountbatten?

On August 27th, 1970, Lord Louis Mountbatten – Prince Philip’s beloved uncle, The Queen’s cousin, and great-uncle and mentor figure to Prince Charles – went sailing in his boat, Shadow V. Having retired from his military career, he spent his summers at Classiebawn Castle in Ireland, and was well-liked by locals. But he did not return from the day’s recreation: the boat exploded in the harbour, and he died almost instantly.

Mountbatten’s daughter Patricia, son-in-law Lord Brabourne, Lord Brabourne’s mother, and Patricia’s 14-year-old twins Nicholas and Timothy were all on the boat, as well as local teen Paul Maxwell. Paul and Timothy were also killed, with Lord Brabourne’s mother passing away days later. Lord Brabourne, Patricia and Nicholas survived, but were badly injured.

Despite an immediate assumpting that this was a senselessly tragic accident, it soon became clear that it was nothing of the sort. Half an hour after the explosion, a call was made to newspaper the Donegal Democrat, stating that the IRA – the Irish Republican Army – was responsible for the assassination. Indeed, the police had previously warned Lord Mountbatten that he could be a target of an attack, but he shrugged off these fears.

‘This operation is one of the discriminate ways we can bring to the attention of the English people the continuing occupation of our country’, a statement from the IRA read. ‘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.’

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Lord Mountbatten was buried at Romsey Abbey, in Romsey.

Thomas McMahon, an experienced bombmaker, was found guilty of planting the bomb and sentenced to a life in prison. But he was freed in 1998, following the making of the Good Friday Agreement. He is still alive.

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