Triumph and Tragedy

In the 1970s, the Royal Family had cause to worry about their public profile. As the decade wore on, it became obvious that this palpable change in the national tone was not just a temporary glitch, but had become something of a prevailing theme. In fact, as the economic situation continued to worsen, many of the Queen’s subjects began to question if the country needed a monarchy at all – hardly the ideal backdrop for the 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations.

Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1976, photograph by Allan Warren

Indeed, much like her wedding nearly three decades previously, the grandiose plans to commemorate Elizabeth’s twenty-five years on the throne were regarded by some as being out of step with the tough economic times. But once again, the majority of the British public eventually put aside their reservations and wholeheartedly entered into the spirit of the occasion, with festive street parties and patriotic union-flag bunting being the order of the day throughout the country.

The success of the Silver Jubilee was widely regarded as a personal triumph for Elizabeth, seen by many as proof that this understated woman continued to inspire much affection among her subjects, enough in fact to stem the rising tide of republicanism which had once threatened to engulf her. If Elizabeth thought that her Silver Jubilee had brought an end to her troubles, she was very much mistaken – as the 1970s drew to a close, this unlucky decade was to throw up one last calamity which would strike at the very heart of her family, and underline just how precarious the royal position really was.

On 27 August 1979, Lord Louis Mountbatten, the man who had first introduced Elizabeth to her husband, was murdered by an IRA bomb while on holiday in Co. Sligo, on Ireland’s west coast. He was seventy-nine years old.

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