Did you know that when asked by a kidnapper to get out of the car, Princess Anne replied “Not bloody likely!”, before diving out of the far side.
As Princess Anne and Mark Phillips were returning to Buckingham Palace on 20 March 1974, from a charity event on Pall Mall, their Princess IV limousine was forced to stop by a Ford Escort. The driver of the Escort, Ian Ball, jumped out and began firing a gun. Inspector James Beaton, the Princess’s personal police officer, responded by exiting the limousine in order to shield the Princess and to attempt to disarm Ball. Beaton’s firearm, a Walther PPK, jammed, and he was shot by the assailant, as was Anne’s chauffeur, Alex Callender, when he tried to disarm Ball. Brian McConnell, a nearby tabloid journalist, also intervened, and was shot in the chest. Ball approached the Royal’s car and told Anne of his kidnapping plan, which was to hold the Princess for ransom, the sum given by varying sources as £2 million or £3 million, which he intended to give to the National Health Service. Ball then directed Anne to get out of the car, to which she replied: “Not bloody likely!”, and briefly considered hitting Ball. Eventually, she dived out of the other side of the limousine and another passing pedestrian, Ron Russell, punched Ball in the back of the head and then led Anne away from the scene. At that point, Police Constable Michael Hills happened upon the situation; he too was shot by Ball, but not before he called for police backup. Detective Constable Peter Edmonds, who had been nearby, answered and gave chase, finally arresting Ball.
All of the victims were hospitalised, and recovered from their wounds. For his defense of Princess Anne, Beaton was awarded the George Cross, Hills and Russell were awarded the George Medal, and Callender, McConnell and Edmonds were awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal. Ball pleaded guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping, and was detained under the Mental Health Act.
The incident was the closest in modern times that any individual has come to kidnapping a member of the Royal Family, and prompted higher security levels for the Royals. It also served as the focus of the 2006 Granada Television produced docu-drama, To Kidnap a Princess, and inspired story lines in the Tom Clancy novel Patriot Games and the Antonia Fraser novel Your Royal Hostage.