Fifty years ago, on March 20, 1974, a chilling incident unfolded in London that involved Princess Anne and her entourage. They were travelling from a dance premiere at a London hall to Buckingham Palace in a luxurious Austin Vanden Limousine. The limousine, designed to accommodate eight passengers, carried only five individuals, including Princess Anne, her husband Mark Phillips, and her attendant.
As the royal convoy made its way through well-lit streets, a sudden disturbance halted their progress. A Ford Escort pulled up in front of them, and a man wielding a 9mm automatic pistol emerged. The assailant fired two shots into the air before advancing towards the royal carriage. The security officer in the front seat of the limousine reacted, drawing his .22 automatic pistol, only to find it malfunctioning.
In a terrifying sequence of events, the criminal disabled the officer’s weapon and proceeded to shoot him in the shoulder. Panic set in among the royals as the assailant, identified as Ian Ball, declared his intention to kidnap Princess Anne for a ransom of £2 million, intended for the National Health Service fund.
As chaos ensued, the driver of the royal carriage and a journalist who happened to be nearby became victims of the assailant’s bullets. With the princess now under threat, her husband, Mark Phillips, refrained from attacking the criminal.
The turning point arrived when an unexpected hero emerged from the crowd—a skilled boxer of imposing stature, measuring 6 feet 4 inches. Without hesitation, the boxer launched himself at the assailant, delivering a powerful blow to the back of his head. The criminal’s pistol was discarded, and he was subdued by the boxer until the police arrived.
Ian Ball, the 26-year-old assailant, was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. He received a life sentence, and Princess Anne, along with her husband and attendant, survived the ordeal physically unharmed. The courageous actions of the boxer earned him honours and recognition from Queen Elizabeth.
Fast forward to the present day, Ian Ball is now a 76-year-old resident of a mental hospital, serving a life sentence. Princess Anne, who was 23 years old during the incident, is now 73. The harrowing experience did not deter her spirit, and she recently made headlines during her three-day official visit to Sri Lanka in connection with the country’s 75th independence anniversary.
Princess Anne, half-sister to King Charles III, showcased her dynamic and fearless qualities during the visit. Notably, she surprised onlookers by personally carrying all her luggage off the plane. Accompanied by her husband, Army officer Timothy Lownes, Princess Anne actively participated in various events, including visiting Hindu temples and engaging in traditional rituals.
In this article, we have briefly touched on the remarkable and thrilling event that unfolded in Princess Anne’s life fifty years ago—a story of survival, bravery, and the unexpected heroism of a skilled boxer.