How Princess Anne shrugged off violent and armed kidnap attempt: 'Silly man!'


How Princess Anne shrugged off violent and armed kidnap attempt: 'Silly man!'

The shocking incident came as she was on her way home after a charity event with her new husband Captain Mark Phillips, whom she had married in Nov

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The shocking incident came as she was on her way home after a charity event with her new husband Captain Mark Phillips, whom she had married in November 1973. As they drove down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace, their chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce was forced to stop after another car blocked its route. Suddenly the car’s driver, Ian Ball, exited his vehicle and pulled out a handgun. Ball shot Anne’s chauffeur and her security officer, Jim Beaton, as well as a nearby tabloid journalist who tried to intervene.

Ball, who was trying to kidnap Anne, had planned to ask the Queen for a £2million ransom.

However, when the gunman told the Royal to get out the car, she refused and bravely replied “not bloody likely”.

Heavyweight boxer at the time, Ronnie Russell, was passing by and also intervened to punch Ball twice in the head.

For his bravery, he was awarded the George Medal by the Queen, who told him: “The medal is from the Queen, but I want to thank you as Anne’s mother.”

Speaking on ITV’s Anne: The Princess Royal at 70, the Queen’s daughter spoke about her memories of the kidnap attempt

She said: “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.

“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.”

Mr Beaton, who was also honoured for his bravery, remembered how his weapon had malfunctioned as he went to combat the attacker.READ MORE: Andrew Neil explains his ‘basically Marxist’ rejection of Royal Family

He said: “There were a couple of short cracks so I took my pistol lifted it up and fired it in his direction but nothing happened, it obviously had jammed.

“I manage to get in the car and there was Ball with his gun, so I just stuck my hand in front of it.

“He fired, and it went through the window and into my hand.”

After he was shot, Mr Beaton told the police he “felt tired and very drunk, although I hadn’t been drinking. I just wanted to lie down.”

The security guard also praised Anne for being “cool, calm and collected, I think it kept the situation in control.”

Mr Beaton continued to work for Anne for another five years and also subsequently worked for the Queen.

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He told The Times that the incident marked a significant change in how Royal Family members are protected: “I had nothing… There was no back-up vehicle.

“The training was non-existent; but then again, [we thought] nothing was going to happen. They are highly specialised now, highly trained.”

As for Mr Russel, he eventually sold his George Medal last year, fetching £50,000 from a private collector in the UK.

Speaking afterwards, MrRussell said: “For something I thought that I would never sell, I never believed it would sell for this amount. I am absolutely blown away with this price and it gives me opportunities to do things that I never thought we could.”

The medal was sold with related items, including a letter from Downing Street informing Mr Russell of the award, a telegram from the princess royal and a letter from the Metropolitan police commissioner.

He also reflected on the kidnap attempt of 1974 years later, saying that the princess told Ball: “Just go away and don’t be such a silly man.”

Mr Russell added: “I hit him as hard as I could – if he had been a tree he would have fallen over – and he was flat on the floor face down.”