SLIGO, Ireland -- Prince Charles has paid an emotional tribute to Lord Louis Mountbatten, slain 36 years ago by the Irish Republican Army, as the British royal tours Ireland on a mission of peace and reconciliation.

Charles called his great-uncle "the grandfather I never had" as he spoke Wednesday in the western Irish town of Sligo.

Later Charles plans to visit Mullaghmore, the fishing village where the outlawed IRA blew up Mountbatten's yacht in 1979, slaying the 79-year-old World War II hero. Also killed in the remote-controlled blast were Mountbatten's 14-year-old grandson, a 15-year-old Northern Ireland boy, and the grandson's 83-year-old grandmother.

Charles said the killings left him feeling like "the foundations of all that we held dear in life had been torn apart irreparably." The audience gave him a standing ovation.