The forgotten kidnap attempt against Princess Anne and how she escaped

Princess Anne foiled a terrifying kidnap attempt against her 50 years ago

Princess Anne
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Princess Anne stopped a kidnapping plot by saying three words to the gunman during the dramatic ordeal outside Buckingham Palace.

Princess Anne is known as a hardworking member of the royal family who often puts her public duties ahead of her personal life. 

But in 1974, the royal was left fearing for her life after narrowly avoiding a kidnap attempt while she was on her way back to Buckingham Palace

Riding with her first husband Captain Mark Phillips, the couple were leaving a charity event on March 20 1974 on Pall Mall, when a vehicle blocked their chauffeur driven car.

The driver of that Escort was Ian Ball, who made his way out of the car and pulled out a handgun, shooting Princess Anne’s chauffeur and her security officer Jim Beaton.

Princess Anne foiled a kidnap plot

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A nearby tabloid journalist, Brian McConnell, was also shot down after trying to help the royals.

Bell told Anne he was planning to kidnap her and ask for a £2 million ransom - which he claimed he intended to give to the National Health Service to fund mental health treatment - before demanding she get out of the car.

But Princess Anne refused to move and told him that it was “not bloody likely” she would do as he said.

The gunman was eventually stopped by former heavyweight boxer Ronnie Russell who punched him in the head.

Princess Anne

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Police Constable Michael Hills arrived on the scene and called for backup but was shot by Ball too.

Finally, Detective Constable Peter Edmonds chased after Ball and he was arrested and charged with attempted murder and kidnapping.

He was later sentenced to 41 years in Broadmoor, a high-security psychiatric hospital in Berkshire and is still detained under the Mental Health Act.

All the wounded parties were fine and Inspector Beaton was awarded the George Cross by the Queen, while Police Constable Hills and Russell were awarded the George Medal.

Meanwhile, Chauffeur Callender, McConnell, and Edmonds were also awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

Princess Anne

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As an act of gratitude, the Queen also paid off boxer Russell’s mortgage to say thank you for saving her daughter.

Following the terrifying incident, Anne opened up in the 2020 ITV documentary, Anne: The Princess Royal at 70.

She said at the time, “What is interesting is what you remember and how you remember it, because although I thought I remembered everything that happened I would never have been able to swear I could remember in the right order.

“Because they were like photos, individual snapshots. Very clearly.”

The royal also said she’d previously thought about her response, adding, “One thing about horses and sport is you have to prepare for the unexpected and you've got to think through the problems that are likely to occur.

“I suppose that was the discipline which to some extent coloured my thought processes.”

Naomi Bartram
Freelance news writer

Naomi is a news and lifestyle journalist and digital content creator with bylines in The Independent, The Sun, Cosmopolitan, and Fabulous. She covers a range of topics and currently works at Heart Radio in London.