How Prince Charles’ Sister, Princess Anne, Escaped Her Kidnapper

If you’re not familiar with Princess Anne, she is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

The Princess Royal was born in 1950 two years after her brother, Prince Charles, and while she’s not as famous as her sibling she has earned a reputation over the years as one of the hardest-working members of the family. She’s also the only one of Her Majesty’s children to actually be convicted of a crime and the only royal in modern times who was nearly abducted. Here, we’re looking back at Princess Anne’s terrifying story and how she dealt with a would-be kidnapper after he shot several people in an attempt to abduct her.

Princess Anne
Princess Anne, Princess Royal | Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

The abduction attempt

The horrifying ordeal in which the princess was almost abducted took place on the evening of March 20, 1974, as she and her then-husband, Captain Mark Phillips, were on their way to Buckingham Palace.

Their vehicle was traveling down a road that runs between London’s Trafalgar Square and the palace when a white Ford Escort pulled in front of them and brought their Rolls Royce limousine to a halt. A man, Ian Ball, then exited the Ford with two handguns. At the moment Princess Anne’s Scotland Yard-issued bodyguard, Inspector James Beaton, got out of the car and the men exchanged fire. Beaton was hit and at some point he couldn’t return fire because his weapon jammed.

Ball opened the limo door and ordered Anne to get out but Philips held onto her. Their driver, Alexander Callendar, was shot when he tried to intervene as was Beaton who was able to get into the car and tried to shield the couple.

What Anne did in the chaos

Princess Anne
Princess Anne, Princess Royal | Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Other motorists and a policeman paroling nearby started arriving on the scene. When Police Constable Michael Hills approached the gunman, Ball shot him but the officer was able to radio in the call before collapsing. Daily Mail journalist John Brian McConnell also pulled over and tried to help but he was hit by gunfire as well. Another passerby, a former boxer named Ronald Russell, stepped in and hit Ball from behind.

Anne then reached for the door handle on the opposite side of the backseat and pushed herself out of the car backwards thinking Ball would come after her. He did, and when he ran around the vehicle towards her, she jumped back in with Phillips and shut the door. Several officers then began responding to the area and Ball ran off.

Years later, Anne spoke about the attempted abduction in a television interview and while it was undoubtedly scary at the time she was able to recall the incident in a way only she can, making it surprisingly funny.

Detective Constable Peter Edmonds eventually caught up to Ball and arrested him. E! News noted that he pleaded guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping and was sentenced to life in a mental health facility.  All of the other men shot survived their injuries.

Royals undergo hostage training

The Royal Family
The Royal Family | Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Because of threats like this, members of the British royal family must undergo hostage training in case they ever find themselves in this type of situation or if they are actually abducted.

“When you are part of the royal family, suddenly, you become a victim for ISIS, for a terrorist group, for a kidnapping,” terrorism expert Robert Strang said. He spoke about this topic with Inside Edition in 2017 after it was revealed that Meghan Markle received special training from elite military ops before she and Prince Harry tied the knot. Markle’s sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, also went through the training prior to joining the family in 2011.

Read more: Does Prince Charles Get Along With His Siblings?

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