Princess Anne’s brave three-words to gunman who tried to kidnap her during terrifying ordeal

By Staff

On this day 50 years ago in 1974, the late Queen’s only daughter Princess Anne was subjected to a terrifying attempted kidnap ordeal and saw her car shot at as she drove towards Buckingham Palace after a night out

Princess Anne is probably best know for her hard-working approach to royal duty coupled with her forthright demeanour – and it seems it may have prepared her for one of the most terrifying ordeals of her life.

Exactly 50 years ago today while returning home from a charity event, King Charles’ sister was subjected to a frightening ordeal when her car was shot at as she drove into Buckingham Palace. It happened on March 20, 1974 as her vehicle drove down The Mall and a car blocked its way. Shortly after they reached it Ian Ball got out and pulled out a shotgun. He shot the royal’s chauffeur and security officer, as well as a press photographer who tried to intervene.

The shocking incident saw Ball attempt to kidnap Anne and he planned to ask for a ¬£2million ransom. He told the royal to get out of the car – but she bravely replied in three words, “not bloody likely”.

Anne talked about the terrifying moment in a documentary which celebrated her 70th birthday almost four years ago, saying she still remembers each moment “like photographs”. She told ITV’s Anne: The Princess Royal at 70: “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. Strangely I had thought it before that, ‘what would you do if…’

“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.”

Anne tried to talk Ball down, telling him she would not leave the car. Thankfully, another witness who was walking past the scene at the time punched Ball in the head twice – finally bringing the incident to an end. The late Queen gave all of the four people who Ball shot a medal as a thank you for helping to save her daughter’s life. Ball later pleaded guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping.

Last year, Anne was once again named the hardest working royal due to her number of entries in the Court Circular – and yesterday she and the the Duchess of Edinburgh hosted a reception for the veterans on behalf of the King to mark the 70th anniversary of the war, in July 2023.

Both Anne and Sophie have stepped up the number of their public duties in recent months as Charles receives treatment for cancer and the Princess of Wales recovers from her abdominal surgery.

Anne and Sophie first met the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea and representatives from the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion in the palace’s Carnarvon Room. They spoke about the reception’s strong turnout and the experiences of the veterans in Korea and the princess and duchess then mingled and posed for photos with around 200 veterans at the reception in the Bow Room.

Anne chatted to the veterans about which regiments they served with in the conflict and when they were deployed. Anne concluded the event by delivering the speech on behalf of Charles, and told the audience: “I’m filling in for my senior brother.”

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