Discovery Channel


Princess Anne Kidnap Foiled

Relive the heroism that saved the Princess Royal

 (© Corbis)


Discovery UK

on the 18 Mar, 2011


Crime History

George Cross Heroes: You’re Nicked! takes us back to 1974 and depicts the remarkable tale of the foiled kidnap attempt made on HRH Princess Anne.

It’s a story that involves wrestling Royals, a major shoot out in London’s Mall, and an extraordinary display of bravery, from Royal protection officer James Beaton as he foils the master kidnap plan of a deranged gunman.

The Princess Royal and her then husband Captain Mark Phillips were making their way back to Buckingham Palace following a charity film screening when their car was forced to a halt by a Ford Escort. The driver, Ian Ball, emerged from his car firing shots.

James Beaton jumped out of the car in an attempt to disarm the assailant, and shield the Princess Anne. Unfortunately his own firearm jammed, and Beaton was shot in the hand. See his incredible heroism in shielding the royals and the extraordinary actions of member of the public Ronnie Russell.

A letter written by ball and addressed to Queen Elizabeth, making demands for £2million for the release of the Princess Anne, was soon discovered confirming the intended kidnap plot.

Ball pleaded guilty to attempted kidnap and murder and was detained under the Mental Health Act. On the 22nd of May 1974 Ian Ball was convicted of attempting to kidnap HRH Princess Anne, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

All gunfire victims were hospitalised and went on to recover from the wounds. Beaton was awarded the George Cross medal for his bravery shown during the horrifying ordeal.

Did you know…?

- The Princess Royal was born on 15 August 1950, second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II she was baptised Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise at Buckingham Palce in October 1950

- HRH Princess Anne's expert equestrian skills earned her the title of BBC's Sports Personality of 1971

- Princess Anne is also the author of 'Riding Through My Life,' a book dedicated to her love of horses

Related links:

Find out more about HRH Princess Anne.

More on George Cross Heroes.

Watch George Cross Heroes videos here


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