Queen Elizabeth II's Daughter Almost Got Kidnapped At Gunpoint - Her Response Is Legendary
The British royal family has fascinated the public since the beginnings of the 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 ordinary life - which sometimes isn't the greatest 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, such as kidnapping attempts, which is what happened to Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II's daughter, on March 20, 1974. Ian Ball, a north London laborer who was unemployed at the time, created a plot to kidnap Princess Anne and hold her for a huge ransom, and the story of the botched attempt is as interesting 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. Unemployed north Londoner 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 vehicle and shot several people to make his way to the princess, whom he tried and failed to abduct.
Despite the unsuccessful attempt, Ball was planning an elaborate kidnapping - authorities found handcuffs, tranquilizers, and a ransom note in the trunk of his car.
There Was A Planned Ransom Of Up To 3 Million Pounds To Be Hand-Delivered By The Queen HerselfPhoto: Getty Images: Tim Graham / Contributor / Getty Images
Part of Ball's plan was to ransom the princess for a reported 3 million pounds, money he had requested to come from the hand of the queen herself. Ball's typed ransom note, which was found in his car, critiqued the royal family and demanded the sum be delivered in five-pound notes. The money had to be contained in 20 individual suitcases and put on a plane to Switzerland.
Ball's note also said that Queen Elizabeth II needed to accompany the suitcases.
Ball Was Able To Access Princess Anne's Itinerary By Calling Buckingham PalacePhoto: Shutterstock
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 learn exactly where to find the princess. Not only had he seen her driving before, labeling her in his mind as an "easy target," but Ball also merely telephoned the Buckingham Palace press office to find out Princess Anne's whereabouts.
The palace also had heavily publicized the fact that Princess Anne was attending the charity event, and her limo had the royal insignia on its side, making it easy for Ball to track her down.
Princess Anne Was Seen As An 'Easy Target'Photo: Shutterstock
Ball thought of Princess Anne as an "easy target" for numerous reasons. He might have previously seen the princess and her husband in a car and noticed they were assigned only one bodyguard when traveling (at the time, not even Queen Elizabeth II had more than a single bodyguard on 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.
Four People Were Shot During The Attempt
Ball had to first get through two people to reach the princess: chauffer Alex Callender and bodyguard James Beaton. Beaton had exited the stopped limo to confront Ball, whom he assumed was an angry driver, when Ball shot him in the shoulder. Beaton had a gun on him, but the injury to his shoulder made his aim poor, and after one shot, his weapon jammed. Ball shot him twice more.
Ball then shot Callender square in the chest. When officers arrived, they - like Beaton - assumed Ball was simply a disgruntled driver. Constable Michael Hills touched Ball on the shoulder, and Ball shot him in the stomach. The fourth man to be shot was Daily Mirror journalist John Brian McConnell, who tried to convince Ball to disarm by saying, "Don't be silly, old boy, put the gun down." All four men later recovered and were given medals by Queen Elizabeth II.
When Ball Told Princess Anne To Get Out Of The Car, She Told Him That Was 'Not Bloody Likely'Photo: Shutterstock
When Ball finally managed to reach the back of the limo, he likely assumed the hard work was over. However, he didn't expect Princess Anne's stubbornness and spunk - she had refused to exit the vehicle. After beckoning her, Ball admitted he was planning to hold her for ransom, which prompted the princess to dig her heels in even more firmly. She shot back a remark, "Not bloody likely."
Ball struggled to drag her out of the car, while Princess Anne's husband attempted to keep her inside. The force of the two men pulling on the princess caused her dress to rip down the back, a moment that the princess said had made her lose her cool. Princess Anne noted that once her dress ripped, that was Ball's "most dangerous moment." Otherwise, the princess claimed she was fairly calm and polite, calling the conversation she had with Ball about her getting out of the car "tedious."