Prince Philip called his uncle Lord Mountbatten's death a 'senseless act of terrorism' in poignant letter

·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read
Prinz Philip von Großbritannien, Herzog von Edinburgh und Gatte der Queen (r), und sein Onkel, der britische Großadmiral und letzte Vizekönig von Indien, Lord Louis Mountbatten, bei einer Parade der Königlichen Marine in Eastney, Southsea am 27.10.1965. Louis Francis Albert Victor Mountbatten, 1. Earl of Burma, wurde am 25.6.1900 in Frogmore House in Windsor geboren. Er starb am 27. 8.1979 nahe Mullaghmore im irischen County Sligo an Bord seiner Yacht durch ein Bombenattentat, das von Randgruppen der irischen Terror-Organisation IRA auf ihn verübt wurde. | usage worldwide (Photo by Central Press/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Prince Philip, right, with his uncle Lord Mountbatten who was killed in 1979. (Getty Images)

Prince Philip called his uncle’s death a “senseless act of terrorism” in a poignant letter to a friend sent after Lord Mountbatten was killed by the provisional IRA.

The letter was written by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1979, to actor Lionel Jeffries, who had expressed sympathy to the royal over the loss of his uncle.

Louis Mountbatten was a British Royal Navy officer who was killed in August 1979 by a bomb which was left on his fishing boat in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, Ireland.

The radio controlled bomb had been placed on the boat, called Shadow V, one night, and it was detonated the next day, 27 August, when he was a few hundred metres from the shore. He was 79.

In the letter from Philip to Jeffries, he said: “Let us hope that the great wave of revulsion against this senseless act of terrorism may yet help to bring a change of heart in those who believe that violence and brutality are the only solutions to their problems.”

Lord Mountbatten lost his legs in the blast and was pulled out of the water alive, but died of his injuries. There were several other on board with the statesman, including his teenage grandson Nicholas and a teenage boathand Paul Maxwell who were killed.

The letter was written to Lionel Jeffries after the murder of Lord Mountbatten. (Dominic Winter Auctions)
The letter was written to Lionel Jeffries after the murder of Lord Mountbatten. (Dominic Winter Auctions)
British race car driver Graham Hill talks with Lord Louis Mountbatten (1900 - 1979) and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. (Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images)
British race car driver Graham Hill talks with Lord Louis Mountbatten and Prince Charles. (Getty Images)

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The letterhead indicates Philip, now 98, was in Balmoral Castle when he wrote the letter.

While the main body is typed, there’s a salutation and signature hand signed.

The letter has come up for auction with Dominic Winter, and is thought to be able to fetch between £100 and £150.

According to the lot, there are a number of other letters to Jeffries included, from the Queen, the Queen Mother, Prince Charles and Princess Margaret.

There are also telegrams from Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips as well as Prince Charles and Princess Diana, thanking Lord Snowdon for the good wishes on their wedding and engagement respectively.

Details of those letters have not been shared by the auction house.

At the beach in front of Classiebawn Castle, Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900 - 1979) (center, buried in sand) plays his daughter, Lady Patricia Bradbourne (later 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma), and her children, from left, Joanna, Philip, Norton (later Lord Brabourne, in back), and Amanda, County Sligo, Ireland, 1963. (Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
Louis Mountbatten with his daughter, Lady Patricia Bradbourne, and her children, from left, Joanna, Philip, Norton and Amanda, in front of Classiebawn Castle, Co Sligo. (Getty Images)

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Lord Mountbatten was the last viceroy of India and was said to be a strong influence in Charles’ upbringing.

It’s also thought he was behind the first meeting of Philip and the future Queen Elizabeth II. Lord Mountbatten was the one who arranged the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Dartmouth Naval College, and put his nephew Philip in place to entertain princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose.

The IRA claimed responsibility for his death. Thomas McMahon was later convicted of the assassinations and jailed, later released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

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Lord Mountbatten, known as Uncle Dickie, was played by Greg Wise in season 1 and 2 of The Crown and Charles Dance in season 3. It’s likely season 4 of the Netflix show will deal with his death.

The letters have been put up for auction by the estate of Jeffries, who died in 2010. He is best known for playing Grandpa Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

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