By Darren Staples
SLIGO, Ireland, May 20 (Reuters) - Britain's Prince Charles spoke on Wednesday of the murder of his great uncle Lord Mountbatten in Ireland 36 years ago and called him "the grandfather I never had."
Speaking ahead of his first visit to the site where the Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed Mountbatten by exploding a bomb on his boat in 1979, Charles said Ireland had endured a history of much pain and resentment where blame was always too easily attributed.
Mountbatten's death, he added, had given him a profound understanding of the agonies borne by so many people affected by the country's troubled past.
"At the time I could not imagine how we would ever come to terms with the anguish of such a deep loss," Charles said in a speech, a day after he shook hands with Gerry Adams in his first meeting with the leader of the former political wing of the IRA.
He added: "For me, Lord Mountbatten represented the grandfather I never had. It seemed as if the foundation of all that we held dear in life had been torn apart irreparably.
"Through this dreadful experience, I now understand in a profound way the agonies borne by so many others in these islands, of whatever faith, denomination or political tradition."
The IRA ended its 30-year armed campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland as part of a power-sharing peace deal in 1998 between Protestants who want to remain loyal to the British crown and Catholics favouring unification with Ireland.
(Writing by Padraic Halpin; editing by Stephen Addison)