How gunman shot Princess Anne's bodyguard during abduction bid in 1974

The crazed attempt to kidnap the Queen’s daughter: How gunman shot Princess Anne’s bodyguard three times during abduction bid in 1974… but she STILL doesn’t have the full police protection Prince Harry is demanding

  • Gunman Ian Ball attempted to kidnap Princess Anne on March 20, 1974 when car was driving down The Mall 
  • She and husband Mark Phillips were returning with lady-in-waiting Rowena Brassey from engagement
  • Ball fired volleys of shots into Anne’s royal limousine before ordering her to get out of the car
  • Anne’s police bodyguard, Detective Inspector Jim Beaton, was shot after his own gun jammed 
  • On the night of March 20, 1974, crazed gunman Ian Ball tried to kidnap Princess Anne

    On the night of March 20, 1974, crazed gunman Ian Ball tried to kidnap Princess Anne

    It was the kidnap attempt which nearly took the life of the daughter of the Queen.

    On the night of March 20, 1974, crazed gunman Ian Ball used his Ford Escort car to force the limousine carrying Princess Anne and her husband Captain Mark Phillips to stop as it was being driven down The Mall.

    He then used a pistol to fire volleys of shots through the Austin Princess’s windows, prompting the devoted Captain Phillips to shield his wife before he tried to bundle her out the other side of the car.

    Anne’s police bodyguard, Detective Inspector Jim Beaton, tried to intervene to protect his charge but his gun, a Walther PP, jammed and he was shot three times in the chest and arms.

    In the ensuing melee to stop Ball, a further three people were shot – including Anne’s chauffeur and another policeman.

    Ball was finally stopped when he was bundled to the ground by officer Peter Edmonds after being punched in the head by passing former boxer Ronnie Russell, who had led Anne to safety.

    Whilst Ball was later declared to be mentally ill, it emerged in 2014 that he had claimed in police interviews that ‘one good thing’ to come out of his ‘audacious’ crime was that officials would ‘have to improve’ Anne’s protection.

    Anne is now one of the members of the Royal Family who only receive protection during engagements and official duties, whilst the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate get full-time police bodyguards.

    On Sunday, it emerged Prince Harry is taking legal action against the Government over its decision to remove his UK police security after he and his wife Meghan Markle stepped down as working royals two years ago.

    Yesterday, Harry was told by former head of royal protection Dai Davies that he cannot ‘pick and choose’ when he wants to visit the UK and receive bodyguards.

    Mr Davies pointed out that Anne does not get full-time protection despite her ordeal.

    Ball used his Ford Escort car to force the limousine carrying Princess Anne and her husband Captain Mark Phillips to stop as it was driving down The Mall. He then used a pistol to fire volleys of shots through the Austin Princess's windows, prompting the devoted Captain Phillips to shield his wife before he tried to bundle her out the other side of the car. Above: The aftermath of the kidnap attempt. Ball's car is seen blocking the path of the royal limousine

    Ball used his Ford Escort car to force the limousine carrying Princess Anne and her husband Captain Mark Phillips to stop as it was driving down The Mall. He then used a pistol to fire volleys of shots through the Austin Princess’s windows, prompting the devoted Captain Phillips to shield his wife before he tried to bundle her out the other side of the car. Above: The aftermath of the kidnap attempt. Ball’s car is seen blocking the path of the royal limousine

    Anne's police bodyguard, Detective Inspector Jim Beaton, tried to intervene to protect his charge but his gun, a Walther PP, jammed and he was shot three times in the chest and arms

    Anne’s police bodyguard, Detective Inspector Jim Beaton, tried to intervene to protect his charge but his gun, a Walther PP, jammed and he was shot three times in the chest and arms

    Prince Harry is told Met Police is NOT for hire as ex-royal cop warns he ‘can’t pick and choose when he wants to come to UK’ 

    Prince Harry ‘cannot pick and choose’ when he wants to visit the UK and receive protection, a former head of royal protection has warned.

    The Duke of Sussex should not be expecting bodyguards supplied to him when he decides to return home, Dai Davies said.

    Mr Davies, who was Operational Unit Commander for the Royals from 1995, told GMB: ‘He chose to go to America, that’s his prerogative.

    ‘And it’s our prerogative to ensure when we look at any aspect of protection, any member of the Royal Family that we actually look and assess it through various security agencies. That’s the crux.

    ‘And it’s been decided in this level, one they won’t supply him with protection because the risk at this stage is deemed low.

    ‘However should there be a risk when he comes then clearly the Metropolitan Police would be duty bound.’

    He went on: ‘Clearly it has been reviewed in the same way as so many other royal security have been done.

    ‘Princess Anne for instance, his aunt, she doesn’t get full time protection we’re told now and yet arguably in 1974 she was nearly kidnapped and/or murdered.

    ‘Her protection officer was shot. However, with regards to Harry, he can’t pick and choose when he wants to come.

    ‘There has never been a precedent where somebody pays for their security in this country. If it’s required, it will be provided.’

    Advertisement

    The kidnap attempt on Princess Anne took place at around 8.30pm on March 21, 1974. She and her husband, whom she had married the previous year, had been on their way back to Buckingham Palace after attending a charity film screening.

    Inside the car with the couple was Anne’s lady-in-waiting Rowena Brassey. Chauffer Alex Callender was at the wheel.

    Ball had followed Anne’s car down The Mall and overtook it opposite Clarence House before braking sharply to force the limousine to stop.

    He then got out and began shooting as he tried to get into the car.

    A witness, named as Miss Sammy Scott, told the Daily Mail at the time: ‘I could see Princess Anne and Mark huddled in the back of the car.

    ‘They were on the opposite side to the gunman. Suddenly, I saw a man fall down in front of me. He had been shot. He was covered in blood. He lay on the pavement.

    ‘Another man, a detective I suppose, came running up. I said to him: “This man has been shot, why doesn’t he go to hospital?”

    ‘The detective looked at me for a moment and then said: “So have I”. He opened his jacket and I could see blood pouring from his shoulder. Then he also collapsed.’

    DI Beaton, who is now in his 70s, was shot immediately as he tried to intervene, meaning that he missed when he fired his first and only round before his gun jammed.

    He was then shot twice more when he instead opted to try to use his body to protect Anne and her husband 

    He later explained how security measures have changed since the incident. He said: ‘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.’

    Brian McConnell, a journalist who had been following the couple, also tried to intervene to stop Ball and was shot in the chest. Mr Callender was also shot.

    When Ball told Anne he was going to kidnap her and ordered her to get out of the car, the princess is alleged to have replied, ‘Not bloody likely!’.

    However, as others then tried to stop Ball, Anne did opt to get out of the car.

    The passing former boxer Mr Russell, who won the George Medal for his bravery efforts, led the princess to safety before hitting the gunman twice in the head.

    When PC Michael Hills came across the situation, he too was shot after calling for backup and then trying to intervene.

    When support arrived in the form of Detective Constable Peter Edmonds, Ball was finally arrested.

    Although DI Beaton, PC Hills, Mr Callender and Mr McConnell were hospitalised, all recovered and were able to continue their careers.

    The kidnap attempt on Princess Anne took place at around 8.30pm on March 21, 1974. She and her husband, whom she had married the previous year, had been on their way back to Buckingham Palace after attending a charity film screening

    The kidnap attempt on Princess Anne took place at around 8.30pm on March 21, 1974. She and her husband, whom she had married the previous year, had been on their way back to Buckingham Palace after attending a charity film screening

    A witness, named as Miss Sammy Scott, told the Daily Mail at the time: 'I could see Princess Anne and Mark huddled in the back of the car'

    A witness, named as Miss Sammy Scott, told the Daily Mail at the time: ‘I could see Princess Anne and Mark huddled in the back of the car’

    As well as Mr Russell’s award, DI Beaton was awarded the George Cross by the Queen, whilst PC Hills was also handed the George Medal.

    Speaking in 1984 about the ordeal to chat show host Michael Parkinson, Anne said she had been ‘scrupulously polite’ to her attacker, because it would have been ‘silly to be too rude at that stage’.

    Ball went on to plead guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping and is still imprisoned at Broadmoor Hospital under the Mental Health Act.

    The excuses Ball made in his police interview were revealed after the Mail on Sunday won a seven-month Freedom of Information battle. They had only been due to be released in 2048.

    The would-be kidnapper told police that he had believed Anne would be an easy target. He said he had learned of her movements by phoning the Buckingham Palace press office.

    He said: ‘I had thought about it for years… She would have been the easiest. I have seen her riding with her husband.’

    The bid to kidnap Princess Anne was the front page story in the Daily Mail the following day. A witness described the moment she saw DI Beaton collapse after being shot

    The bid to kidnap Princess Anne was the front page story in the Daily Mail the following day. A witness described the moment she saw DI Beaton collapse after being shot

    Princess Anne, Captain Mark Phillips (left) and Queen Elizabeth with a group of guests including Inspector James Beaton (third from left), and former boxer Ronnie Russell (right) after they helped to foil the kidnap attempt

    Princess Anne, Captain Mark Phillips (left) and Queen Elizabeth with a group of guests including Inspector James Beaton (third from left), and former boxer Ronnie Russell (right) after they helped to foil the kidnap attempt 

    Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips are seen at an engagement the week after the kidnap attempt. The couple divorced in 1992

    Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips are seen at an engagement the week after the kidnap attempt. The couple divorced in 1992

    Ball was finally stopped when he was bundled to the ground by officer Peter Edmonds after being punched in the head by passing former boxer Ronnie Russell (pictured), who had led Anne to safety

    Ball was finally stopped when he was bundled to the ground by officer Peter Edmonds after being punched in the head by passing former boxer Ronnie Russell (pictured), who had led Anne to safety

    The files also revealed Ball showed no remorse for shooting three men.

    He said: ‘They were getting in my way so I had to shoot them. Well, the police, that’s their job. They expect to be shot. I took a chance of getting shot so why shouldn’t they?’

    Ball had planned to take the Princess to a Central London property which he had rented under an alias, and to demand a ransom of £3 million.

    Detectives initially feared Ball was part of the IRA but he told officers: ‘I have got no friends. I’m a loner. I put a lot of thought and work into it.

    ‘I can’t expect people like you to understand or accept that I did it and planned it alone. Do you think I am part of the IRA or something? If there had been anyone else they would have helped me at the scene.’

    It emerged last weekend that lawyers for Prince Harry have written a 'pre-action protocol' letter to the Home Office, indicating they will seek a judicial review if the Sussexes are not given continued security when they are in Britain

    It emerged last weekend that lawyers for Prince Harry have written a ‘pre-action protocol’ letter to the Home Office, indicating they will seek a judicial review if the Sussexes are not given continued security when they are in Britain

    He also told police: ‘I knew [Beaton] would be armed. If his gun had not jammed, I would be dead.’  

    Along with her brother Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Princess Anne is now only guarded on official duties and engagements.   

    Other royals including the Queen’s granddaughters Zara Tindall, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie do not have state-funded security, while Prince Andrew lost his after stepping down from royal duties in November 2019. 

    It emerged last weekend that lawyers for Prince Harry have written a ‘pre-action protocol’ letter to the Home Office, indicating they will seek a judicial review if the Sussexes are not given continued security when they are in Britain. 

    They said they were happy to pay for the cover.