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3 Oct 2014
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This Sceptred Isle

Prime Minister Thatcher and the I.R.A.
In 1979 Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister with Sir Geoffrey Howe as her Chancellor of the Exchequer. Some said Edward Heath wanted the Foreign Office but Margaret Thatcher gave it to Lord Carrington and offered Heath the job as ambassador to Washington. He turned it down. The Thatcher-Heath battle was now quite public.

Airey Neave, one of Thatcher's closest political and personal friends was killed by an IRA bomb planted in his car while it was parked in the House of Commons car park. In August the IRA assassinated Earl Mountbatten of Burma aboard his launch. The same day another IRA bomb killed 18 soldiers at Warren Point, County Downe.

At the end of1979, Lord Carrington successfully negotiated the Rhodesian Settlement at Lancaster House in London and the way was open to black majority rule in what would now be known as Zimbabwe.

Lord Mountbatten
Lord Mountbatten

  • Born at Windsor.
  • Great grandson of Queen Victoria
  • His father was known as Prince Louis Francis of Battenburg during the Great War, when the family name was changed to Mountbatten in recognition of anti-German feeling
  • Became one of the Royal Navy's most famous admirals and eventually First Sea Lord
  • Sent to India after the Second World War as Viceroy to oversee the British withdrawal
  • His ambition for his nephew, Philip of Greece, is well documented and on the death of George VI, the admiral believed that the royal household would become the House of Mountbatten
  • Murdered by the IRA aboard the family motor launch at Mullaghmore, County Sligo

did you know?
Sir Anthony Blunt was named as the "fourth man" in the Burgess, MacLean and Philby affair in 1979.

The killing of British soldiers in Northern Ireland
An extract from Major General Julian Thompson's History of the Parachute Regiment

"Soldiers from Two Para were travelling in a four-ton truck along a road on the north shore of Carlingford Lough close to the village of Warren Point.
"The Lough at this point is so narrow that the south side, in Eire, is only about 200 yards away.
"As the truck passed Narrow Water Castle, a medieval tower by the side of the road, terrorists across the Lough detonated an explosive device under the vehicle by radio control, killing a company commander and 15 soldiers from Two Para and two soldiers from the Queen's Own Highlanders.
"Lieutenant Colonel Blair, the Commanding Officer of the Queen's Own Highlanders, flew by helicopter at once to the scene. As he ran towards the road, the terrorists initiated another device. His body was vaporized by the explosion.
"When the Prime Minister, on a visit to Northern Ireland, asked about the incident, Colonel Blair's brigade commander held up one of Blair's cloth rank badges.
"It was all that could be found of his body."

Select historical period

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1974 Harold Wilson becomes Prime Minister (Labour)
1975 The Sex Discrimination Act is passed
1976 Callaghan becomes Prime Minister (Labour)
Race Relations Act is passed
Concorde makes its first passenger flight
1977 Jimmy Carter becomes President of the USA
1978 Karol Wojtyla becomes Pope John Paul II
1979 Margaret Thatcher becomes Prime Minister (Conservative)
1980 Southern Rhodesia becomes independent and changes its name to Zimbabwe
1981 Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer
1982 Britain defeats Argentina in the Falklands War
1983 Margaret Thatcher wins the General Election (Conservative)
1984 Indira Gandhi of India assassinated

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