40 years today an extraordinary life was brought to a sudden end by the Irish Republican Army.
The royal family has known a host of colourful personalities through the ages, however arguably Lord Louis Mountbatten, the late uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh, takes the cake.
In the words of one obituary, “it seemed almost unbelievable that one human being could have touched the history of our century at so many points”.
Born on June 25, 1900, Mountbatten was the son of Prince Louis of Battenberg, one of the oldest dynasties in Europe.
During the First World War, anti-German sentiment saw the Prince forced by the Government to resign his naval post.
As a Royal Navy cadet in training, young Mountbatten’s outrage at this treatment of his father served as a driving force in his swift ascent up the ladder of promotion.
Now remembered as a war-winning Allied commander, the last Viceroy of India, a head of the Royal Navy and Chief of the Defence Staff, Mountbatten was also the leader of countless civic organisations and an influential mentor to successive generations of royalty.
Without him, today’s monarchy would be unrecognizable; the marriage between the then English Princess Elizabeth and his son Philip due in no small part due to his playing cupid.
Assassinated while holidaying at his family home in County Sligo on the coast of Ireland, Mountbatten’s fishing boat Shadow V was blown up by a bomb made of 50 pounds of gelignite.
Four hours later, the IRA issued a statement: “The Irish Republican Army claims responsibility for the execution today of Lord Louis Mountbatten."
More than 1,400 relatives and dignitaries, led by the Queen, attended his state funeral at Westminster Abbey.
Though not without critics of his personal and professional life, Mountbatten was widely hailed for the breadth of his achievements. Most notably his wartime victory in Burma against Japan and his oversight of independence to India.