The wider public has been fascinated by the British royal family since the beginnings of monarchy itself. The idea of kings, queens, princes, and princesses is captivating; their lives and experiences seem significantly removed from the trials and travails of normal life — which sometimes isn't the best thing. For example, Queen Elizabeth II, England's longest-reigning queen, has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories as a result of this intense public scrutiny.
Public fascination with the royal family can lead to outcomes more serious than conspiratorial thinking, however, including kidnapping attempts, which is what happened to Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II's daughter, on March 20, 1974. To attempt to kidnap a princess is no small thing, yet Ian Ball, a north London laborer, created a plot to kidnap Princess Anne and hold her for a huge ransom, and the story of the botched attempt is just as fascinating and outlandish as the royal family itself.
Ball Ambushed Princess Anne's Limo On The Way To Buckingham Palace
On March 20, 1974, Princess Anne and her husband of only four months, Captain Mark Phillips, were on their way home from a charity function when their night took a turn. Ian Ball, then only 26, ambushed the royal limousine and attempted to kidnap the 23-year-old princess. He blocked the car with his own and shot several people to make his way to the princess, whom he tried and failed to get out of the car.
Despite the failed attempt, Ball was clearly planning an elaborate kidnapping — authorities found handcuffs, tranquilizers, and a ransom note in the trunk of his car.
There Was A Planned Ransom Of 3 Million Pounds To Be Hand Delivered By The Queen Herself
Part of Ball's plan was to ransom the princess for 3 million pounds, money he desired to come from the hand of the queen herself. Ball's typed ransom note, which was found in his car, critiqued the royal family while simultaneously demanding the sum be delivered in five-pound notes. The money would need to be contained in 20 separated suitcases and put on a plane to Switzerland. Ball's note also demanded Queen Elizabeth II accompany the suitcases to Switzerland.
Ball Was Able To Access Anne's Itinerary Just By Calling Buckingham Palace
One would think tracking down a member of the royal family wouldn't be as easy as simply blocking their limo with your own car, yet Ball managed to know exactly where the princess would be. Not only had he seen her driving before, labeling her in his mind as an "easy target," but Ball also simply telephoned the the Buckingham Palace press office to find out where Princess Anne would be. The palace had heavily publicized the fact that Princess Anne would be at the charity event, and her limo had the royal insignia on the side, making it easy for Ball to track her down.
Anne Was Seen As An "Easy Target"
Ball thought of Princess Anne as an "easy target" for numerous reasons. He had seen her driving before with her husband and probably knew she was only assigned one bodyguard when traveling (at the time, not even Queen Elizabeth II had more than a single bodyguard when taking unofficial outings).
Princess Anne was also the media darling of the time, with her whereabouts greatly publicized and her life plastered in newspapers and on television after her marriage to a commoner, Captain Mark Phillips.