“Not bloody likely” – the statement of a Princess during kidnapping attempt

By The Royal Navy - https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2021/september/28/210928-princess-royal-albion-visit, OGL 3, Wikimedia Commons

It was 50 years ago today that Princess Anne told her attempted kidnapper, “Not bloody likely,” outside Buckingham Palace.

On the evening of 20 March 1974, Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, were returning to Buckingham Palace after a charity event. A car forced her chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce to stop before Ian Ball began shooting.

Ball’s shots injured chauffeur Alex Callender and her private detective James Beaton but did not strike the royal.

Ball then climbed into the front seat of the Rolls-Royce and demanded Anne, then 23 years old, to get out of the car; he tackled the Princess to the floor after grabbing her arm. It was then that she muttered her famous phrase, telling Ball, “Not bloody likely.”

Mark Phillips attempted to grab his wife but wasn’t successful. It wasn’t until passerby Ronnie Russell punched Ball in the head several times and tackled him to the ground. Ball fled the scene and was arrested shortly after by a police officer.

It was later revealed Ball planned to kidnap Anne and hold her for ransom after a letter from him to Queen Elizabeth II was found in his possession. He was put on trial for the attempted murder of Beacon and sentenced to life in prison in a psychiatric hospital.

The Princess Royal later spoke about the incident during a 1980 interview with British talk show host Michael Parkinson.

“We had a sort of discussion about where or where not we were going to go,” she said.

She believed the attack lasted around ten minutes and didn’t feel the need to be rude to Ball until he ripped her dress.

“I was scrupulously polite because I thought it was silly to be too rude at that stage. The back of my dress split and that was his most dangerous moment. I lost my rag at that stage.”

Thankfully, Princess Anne was not injured in the encounter.

Russell was later honoured by Queen Elizabeth II with the George Medal (highest civilian award for gallantry) in 1974 with the late monarch telling him, “The medal is from the Queen, but I want to thank you as Anne’s mother.”

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About the Author

Brittani Barger
Brittani is from the United States and has been researching, writing and reporting on the royals for over a decade. Successfully gaining exclusives and interviews with royals across the globe, Brittani left her role as an editor for another news site to help bring you Royal News. She's been seen on BBC World, WION News and other news programs to discuss the royal families.

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