Police have returned a personally engraved pistol that belonged to Lord Mountbatten to his family, over thirty years after he was murdered by the IRA.

The Browning .22 handgun, which is inscribed with his name, was believed to be given up to the to Irish authorities, shortly after 1972, reports the Irish Independent. At the time the Garda seized many weapons around the county as IRA violence increased.

"It is quite small, and would fit in the palm of your hand," one security source told the newspaper.

"It is like something you would see a man at a casino pulling out of his dinner jacket in a James Bond film."

The second cousin of Queen Elizabeth, Mountbatten usually holidayed at his summer home in Mullaghmore, County Sligo.  Mountbatten and three members of his holiday party were murdered while lobster fishing when the IRA blew up his boat on August 27, 1979, with a 50 pound bomb they had planted on the vessel the night before.

The personal pistol was rediscovered in Custume Barracks, in Athlone, Co Westmeath, in the past few months.

"An officer noticed this pistol during a check, and brought it to the attention of our senior military personnel," said an army spokesman.

"It was thought then it would be a fitting gesture of the goodwill between our two nations that the pistol be handed back to the Mountbatten family."


The Browning .22 handgun is inscribed with Lord Mountbatten's name.