From the Telegraph by Tim Knatchbull, a survivor of the bomb attack that killed his grandfather Earl Mountbatten of Burma, among other family members.
Martin McGuinness is widely recognised as having been chief of staff of the IRA, an organisation that killed 1,778 people, making it by far the most lethal group in the conflict we euphemistically call the Troubles. Last Wednesday, he met the Queen as her deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. Some Irish nationalists were disgusted. So were some Brits. Not this one. We should be grateful to them both – to her for having remained steadfast, to him for having changed.
The Queen was shaking the hand of the man said to have authorised the killing of 79-year-old Lord Louis Mountbatten, my grandfather. He was the best of grandparents, warm, loving, devoted. I called him Grandpapa; “Timothy Titus, Please Don’t Bite Us” was the nonsensical catchphrase he invented for me. There always seemed to be laughter and fun around him.
The Queen loved him very much, too, as someone who had been at the heart of her family from before her birth, as well as at the heart of Britain’s Armed Forces, the end of empire and the birth of the Commonwealth. He was godson to Queen Victoria, Uncle Dickie to Prince Philip, honorary grandfather to Prince Charles and Shop Steward to most of Europe’s royalty.
The bomb that killed him had been hidden under the floorboards of his rickety old fishing boat, Shadow V. It was detonated by remote control soon after we put to sea to check our lobster pots near Mullaghmore in County Sligo, Ireland. The explosion at 11.46am on August 27 1979 killed my grandfather, who was at the helm three feet from me; Nicky, my 14-year-old identical twin and complete soulmate; and Paul Maxwell. Paul was an Irish schoolboy we had befriended in Mullaghmore that summer and who was earning pocket money helping out on the boat. That day, he was wearing a pair of jeans he had borrowed from a friend of his sister Donna, and had been taking great care not to get them dirty.
My parents and I survived the blast, and initially, cruelly, so did my grandmother Doreen Brabourne. She was a gloriously serene lady of Irish extraction who had lived through the Troubles at the beginning of the century. Shortly before detonation, she turned to my mother, both of them with their legs up in front of them in the warm sunshine, and said: “Isn’t this a beautiful day?”