Lives Remembered

Patricia Knatchbull: Survivor of IRA attack which killed father and son used experience to help other parents

Countess Mountbatten of Burma pictured in 1995. Picture by PA/PA Wire

PATRICIA Knatchbull's life changed forever on August 27 1979 with the loss of her father, her 14-year-old son and mother-in-law in a devastating IRA bomb attack.

The daughter of Lord Louis Mountbatten was with family members on their fishing boat Shadow V when a remote-controlled device strapped beneath the wooden hull detonated off the Co Sligo coast.

Lord Mountbatten (79), his grandson Nicholas Knatchbull and local crew member Paul Maxwell (15) were killed, with Baroness Doreen Brabourne (83) dying in hospital the next day.

Patricia was one of three survivors, along with her husband John and Nicholas's twin brother Timothy.

She later recalled "a vision of a ball exploding upwards and then of coming to in the sea and wondering if I would be able to reach the surface before I passed out".

The then Lady Brabourne needed 120 stitches for facial injuries, including to her eyeballs, which she would describe as “my IRA facelift”.

She said she cried every morning for about six months after the attack at Mullaghmore, but used her experience of loss to help other bereaved parents through support for the charities Child Bereavement UK and Compassionate Friends.

A first cousin of the Duke of Edinburgh and third cousin of Queen Elizabeth, she did not return to Ireland until 1995 during a visit by her godson, the Prince of Wales.

Later she supported the queen's decision to shake hands with Martin McGuinness in 2012, saying: “She was absolutely right to do that. I very much approve of anything that will bring about peace."

Patricia Mountbatten was born in London on Valentine's Day 1924 and enjoyed a privileged upbringing in England, Europe and New York.

In 1946 she married John Knatchbull, who would go on to produce films including A Passage to India and Death on the Nile. The lavish wedding saw royal princesses Elizabeth and Margaret among the bridesmaids.

She had eight children and inherited the title Countess Mountbatten of Burma on her father's death.

She died aged 93 on June 13 and was buried in a wicker coffin after a funeral attended by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, who delivered an address.

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Lives Remembered