During his visit to Ireland, Prince Charles spoke of his grief at losing his great-uncle in an Irish Republican Army bomb attack 36 years ago.

Lord Mountbatten was killed in 1979 alongside three others, including a 14-year-old boy who was Charles's godson, when the IRA blew up a boat Mountbatten, who was a senior British military commander in the Second World War, was using during a holiday in the region.

Charles was due to visit the site of the attack later on 20 May and during a visit to an arts centre in nearby Sligo, he addressed the pain both he and other families on the other side of the political divide had experienced during what are often referred to as The Troubles.

He said: "In August 1979 my much-loved great-uncle Lord Mountbatten was killed alongside his young grandson and my godson Nicholas and his friend Paul Maxwell, and Nicholas's grandmother, the Dowager Lady Brabourne.

"At the time I could not imagine how we would come to terms with the anguish of such a deep loss, since for me Lord Mountbatten represented the grandfather I never had. So it seemed as if the foundations of all that we held dear in life had been torn apart irreparably. Through this dreadful experience though I now understand in a profound way the agonies borne by so many others in these islands."

Prince Charles and Gerry Adams shake hands

On 19 May, Charles met Gerry Adams, his first meeting with the leader of the former political wing of the IRA and the latest in a series of gestures of reconciliation between Britain and Sinn Fein. It was the first time Adams had met a senior member of the British royal family.

Charles has long been a figure of hate among Irish nationalists due to his position as head of the British Army's Parachute Regiment, because of its role in the Bloody Sunday shootings in 1972, in which 13 Roman Catholic civil rights marchers were killed.

In 2012, the Queen met Martin McGuinness, a former IRA commander and a senior member of Sinn Fein, a meeting seen as a landmark step in rapprochement in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland has been largely peaceful since a 1998 power-sharing deal ended three decades of violence between Protestants who want to remain loyal to the British crown and Catholics favouring unification with Ireland.

The IRA ended its 30-year armed campaign against British rule in 1998 but small splinter groups have continued to launch attacks against UK targets.