Forty-nine years ago, Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth I and Prince Philip, was the subject of a brazen daytime kidnapping attempt on the streets of London.
Anne’s regal demeanor despite being under threat of death and the bravery of a passerby caused the kidnapper to flee the scene before he was arrested.
Princess Anne’s kidnap attempt
On March 20, 1974, Princess Anne was traveling in her car with her then-husband, Captain Mark Phillips, her lady-in-waiting, and her bodyguard, Inspector Jim Beaton.
They were all returning to Buckingham Palace after a charity event, when suddenly, a car pulled up in front of her Rolls-Royce, forcing her to stop.
A man, later identified as Ian Ball, jumped out of the car brandishing two pistols and ordered the Princess to get out and accompany him.
Incredible as it may seem, the Princess refused. Remaining calm, Anne replied, “Not bloody likely!” and began arguing with Ball as his staff struggled to keep him out of the car.
Ball threatened Beaton with a gun, shooting him in the right shoulder. The injury prevented Beaton from responding and, in addition, his own gun jammed.
Ian Ball threatened the people inside the vehicle with open fire if they did not comply.
Despite the tense situation, Captain Phillips and the lady-in-waiting struggled to keep Princess Anne safe.
Beaton managed to get between Ball and Princess Anne, receiving two additional shots to the hand and abdomen.
The driver of the royal vehicle, Alexander Callendar, was also shot in the chest during the incident. A journalist who attempted to intervene became the third person to be shot.
Ana’s resistance bought critical time before Ball could be tackled and disarmed by a passing boxer, Ronnie Russell.
Although he had been shot, his bodyguard had also bravely protected Anne. Fortunately, none of those shot were killed.
Ball was arrested and sentenced for attempted murder and kidnapping to 41 years in Broadmoor high-security psychiatric facility.
Although traumatized, Anne behaved with the bravery typical of the aftermath. Her chauffeur and bodyguard were decorated for their bravery with the George Cross medal.
The fact that the intrepid Anne faced the incident with such composure only increased the admiration of the public.
Anne continued her royal duties as normal and continued to represent Great Britain as an Olympic equestrian.