Princess Anne’s iconic remark to would-be kidnappers, “Not bloody likely,” may well have been what she said yesterday when asked to join the receiving line for the Trump Cartel at Buckingham Palace yesterday.
She’s the feistiest, no-nonsense Royal offspring in The Crown yet she’s even tougher in real life – as she proved by thwarting a terrifying kidnap attempt by a gunman who shot and injured two police officers, her chauffeur and a journalist while trying to drag her from her car
Words Michelle Davies
The would-be abductor struck as Anne, then 24, was being driven along the Mall towards Buckingham Palace on March 20, 1974 with her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, who’d she married the year previously. Suddenly a Ford Escort cut in front of them, forcing them to stop, and a man later identified as Ian Ball got out to confront the princess in the back seat. He was armed with two guns, yelling ‘open or I’ll shoot!’and was determined to capture Anne.
‘He opened the door and said I had to go with him and I said I didn’t think I wanted to go,’ Princess Anne recalled some years later, during an appearance on the TV talk show, Parkinson. ‘We had a fairly low-key discussion about the fact that I wasn’t going to go anywhere, and wouldn’t it be much better if he went away and we’d all forget about it.’ She was actually being restrained in her retelling, however, because according to witnesses at the scene, what the princess actually retorted to Ball was ‘not bloody likely’.
Ball, however, was undeterred. He’d spent two years planning the kidnap, even renting a house in Fleet, Hampshire, not far from where Anne and Mark lived at the time. On his person was a long, rambling ransom letter addressed to the Queen; he wanted the monarch to pay £3 million to the NHS to improve the care and treatment of psychiatric patients – of which he was one. He’d targeted her daughter because, at the time, Anne had celebrity status in Britain after being named the BBC’s Sports Personality Of The Year in 1971 for winning the European Eventing Championship at the age of 21. Of all the Royal children to kidnap, she was the biggest prize.
The great escape
But Ball, 26, hadn’t banked on Anne’s stubbornness. She refused to get out of the car even after those trying to protect her were shot, including her personal police officer, Inspector James Beaton. Ball then tried to yank her from her seat and in the struggle her dress was ripped down the back. ‘I lost my rag at that stage,’ she recalled. ‘He started pulling my arm and Mark was holding onto me and we maintained the status quo for quite a bit, because I wasn’t going anywhere, put it that way.’ Her husband later admitted he felt powerless having seen the others wounded. ‘I was frightened, I don’t mind admitting it,’ he said. Continue reading
by Johnny Foreigner
Anytime I see a photo of the “Changing of the Guards” in London, I’m reminded of the children’s song “Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace,” inspired by Winnnie the Pooh author A. A. Milne and made into a hit song by young Ann Stephens in 1941.
London-born Ann Stephens (21 May 1931 – 15 July 1966) was the first to record “Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace.” Stephens was a British child actress and singer, popular throughout the 1940s.
Like most many American baby boomers, I first heard this song on the Captain Kangaroo Show. That version was made in 1959 by late British variety performer Max Bygraves.
Bygraves’ onstage catchphrase “I wanna tell you a story,” is only slightly better than Marty Allen’s “Hello Dere!” – but Bygraves is a much better singer. Another well-known phrase of Bygraves was “That’s a good idea, son!”
Give a listen to each version and comment which version you like better, young Ann’s or Max’s?
Max Bygraves’ 1959 version “They’re Changing Guards at Buckingham Palace”
A trusted royal guard spills the secrets of a decade of misbehaviour inside Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s call sign was “Purple One”, and her husband was referred to as “Phil the Greek”.
Prince Andrew, meanwhile, was known simply as “The Cunt”.
1. The guards would turn up to work drunk and disorderly – with disastrous consequences.
Drinking was a “huge part of the culture” among the Queen’s guards, but such was the need to have a full relief of armed officers on duty at all times that Page said even those who turned up smelling strongly of booze were allowed to book out weapons and get on with the job. If they were seriously drunk they might be advised to sleep it off in one of the palace rooms, or given medical relief in the form of “a pack of mints and a Lucozade”. Page recalled one incident when a senior official in the royal household was coming through the palace gates, and instead of lifting the barrier, a hungover officer accidentally pressed the underground ramp button, sending the woman’s car into the air.
2. They got their friends on to the Queen’s protection squad by helping them cheat the entry test.
Life on the royalty protection command was seen as an easy gig and a nice little earner. Page said that he and some colleagues wangled their police friends off the beat and into the palace by tipping them off about the questions they would be asked at interview. Even without cheating, new recruits would have been hard-pushed to fail the flimsy entry test. Page says they were merely required to identify a mugshot of a prominent royal and answer questions such as, “Is it ever OK to read a book while guarding the gate to the Queen’s private quarters?” (Answer: no.)