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The attempted kidnapping of HRH Princess Anne

Updated on August 21, 2011
HRH the Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips around the time of the incident
HRH the Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips around the time of the incident

The attack

At 7:45pm on Wednesday 20th March 1974 HRH Princess Anne and her then husband Mark Phillips had been to a charity film presentation and were returning back to Buckingham Palace. Driving up "The Mall" the link road to the palace in their chauffeur driven Rolls Royce they were passed by another car which forced their driver to stop the car, by pulling in front of it,

The Princess was accompanied by her bodyguard, Inspector James Beaton and driver Alec Callender. The inspector pulled his walther ppk out of its housing to find that the assailant had a revolver pointed at Callender.

The attacker, Ian Ball approached the window of the Rolls Royce and said

" I want you to come with me for a day or two, because I want two million. Will you get out of the car?"

Princess Anne is well regarded for having a resolute spirit and said

" Not bloody likely, and I havn't got two million".

Ball shot at Inspector Beaton and Callander wounding both men, before grabbing the princesses arm and telling the policemen "Drop that gun, or i'll shoot her".

As Ball tried to grab hold of the princess, her husband, Captain Mark Phillips grabbed her, pulled her into the car and managed to close the door.

Further gunfire resulted in Ball shooting Inspector Beaton in the stomach and a policeman PC Micheal Hills who had rushed over from St. Jame's palace was also shot in the stomach.

Home and safety, Buckingham Palace
Home and safety, Buckingham Palace

Saved just in time

The area where the attack occurred did attract some visitors even at night when it was still dark. A journalist, Brian McConnell approached Ball and said

" You can't do that these are my friends, don't be silly, just give me the gun"

This brave man was shot in the chest by Ball.

Another passer by Ronald Russell punched Ball in the head and although Ball tried to retaliate he missed Russell, starting to realise that he was unlikely to succeed he started to run off. He didn't get too far before he was rugby tackled by Detective Constable Peter Edmonds.

It wasn't a long attack but in seven minutes, eleven bullets wered fired and four people were injured.

The Mall - the driveway to the Palace where the attempt took place
The Mall - the driveway to the Palace where the attempt took place


Ball appeared at Crown Court charged with two counts of attempted murder, two of wounding and one of attempting to steal and carry away Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.

Ball was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and was detained under the Mental Health Act.

Inspector Beaton was awarded one of the highest medals for bravery, the George Cross, PC Hills, the George Medal and Callender, McConnell and Russell, the Queen's gallantry Medal.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      When Queen Elizabeth awarded the George Cross medal to James Beaton, the Princesses bodyguard, Queen Elizabeth told him "the medal is from the Queen but the thank you is from Anne's mother".

    • CASE1WORKER profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Thanks Jo Deslaurier- I think the happy ending was down to the resolute nature of those involved!

    • Jo Deslaurier profile image

      Jo Deslaurier 

      9 years ago

      Excellent hub, makes for quick thrilling read with a pleasant ending.

    • CASE1WORKER profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      james, thank you for your kind remarks.... I am amazed that so few people had heard of this incident

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      Fascinating! I had not heard of this incident before. You sure told the story well. Thank you for this pleasure.

    • CASE1WORKER profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      i think it might have been played down at the time owing to potential "irish" trouble in London

    • Rob Hanlon profile image

      Rob Hanlon 

      9 years ago from Epicentre of everywhere

      I wasn't aware that Princess Anne was the target of a kidnapping. Mind you, she has always been a favourite 'Royal' as strikes me as a no-nonsense type of person who speaks her mind.

      Nice Hub :-)


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