Princess Anne was nearly kidnapped when an armed man attacked her car on the Mall outside Buckingham Palace on this day in 1974.
The Queen's only daughter and her then-husband, Captain Mark Phillips, were en route to the palace when a car swerved in front of their chauffeur-driven limousine on the Mall.
The Princess, then 23, had just attended a charity event in Pall Mall when Ian Ball, 26, brought them to a halt with his Ford Escort.
As royal police protection officer James Beaton and driver Alex Callender got out of the limousine, Ball began to shoot. Beaton’s own weapon jammed and he was shot three times by the assailant.
Callender was also shot while trying to disarm Ball, as was passing tabloid journalist Brian McConnell, who also tried to intervene.
Ball then got into the limousine and told Princess Anne to get out.
In documented evidence released later under the Thirty Years Rule, the Princess stated that her response to this request was: “Not bloody likely!”
She did eventually accede to Ball’s request, and as he followed her out of the car he was struck by former boxer Ron Russell, who also happened to be passing.
As Russell led Anne away from the scene, another policeman, PC Michael Hills, tried to intervene. He too was shot by Ball, though not before calling for back-up.
Detective constable Peter Edmonds was soon on the scene. He gave chase and was finally able to disarm and arrest the would-be kidnapper.
Ball was later tried for attempted murder and kidnapping, sentenced to life imprisonment, and detained in a mental hospital.
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