No event suffered by the Royal Family has been more harrowing than the assassination of Lord Mountbatten in 1979, the victim of a 50lb IRA bomb as he and members of his family went lobster-potting off Ireland’s north-west coast.
But there seems scant chance of the late earl — King Charles’s beloved great uncle — being allowed to rest in peace. For I can disclose that the producers of a Channel 4 documentary — alleging Mountbatten was embroiled in a notorious sexual abuse scandal — have themselves become victims of a series of disquieting events.
One of the producers, Des Henderson, explains that the programme, Lost Boys: Belfast’s Missing Children, concerns the city’s Kincora Boys’ Home, to which, he claims, there is ‘no doubt Mountbatten is linked’.
While interviewing people, Henderson received two threatening phone calls at his office. One warned him to be ‘careful’; the other was more explicit. ‘[The caller said]: ‘I really do want to warn you about looking into this stuff. There are all kinds of things that could happen, if you dig too deep.’
The following week, Henderson returned to his home, a remote building close to Northern Ireland’s north-east coast. It had been burgled.
He believes it wasn’t an opportunistic break-in. ‘They drove down a narrow lane behind my house, into a field, and climbed over my back wall,’ Henderson tells me. The intruders ‘ransacked’ the house. Yet only one thing was taken.
‘A desktop computer,’ says Henderson, who, after reporting the break-in, mentioned it to a local farmer. ‘He said in all his life there’d never been a burglary.’
None of this surprises one contributor to the documentary, literary agent and author Andrew Lownie, who says that government agencies have kept an eye on him ever since he started investigating Mountbatten.
‘They’ve monitored job applications I’ve made,’ he tells me at Wimbledon BookFest, ‘and court cases I’m involved in.’
He adds: ‘It’s taken Channel 4 years to get this documentary off the ground. I’ve been talking to them since 2019 and they get nervous and they back off. It’s only because one of Mountbatten’s victims is bringing a case in the high court in Belfast that they’ve now been encouraged to go on.’