Don’t you know what we’re talking about? Unless you were alive 46 years ago, you may not have heard that the queen’s only daughter survived an attempted kidnapping at gunpoint.
It’s honestly not possible to make these things up, so it’s strange that The Crown will never choose to explore this event in season three, or even remember it in season four.
This event happened to Princess Anne on March 20, 1974, more than decades ago. But then what happened in the attempted kidnapping of Princess Anne in 1974?
Just four months after her royal wedding, Princess Anne was returning to Buckingham Palace with her new husband, Captain Mark Phillips, on the way back from a charity event, her car was forced to stop after that a Ford Escort blocked their way.
A man named Ian Ball got out of the car and pulled out a gun that he used to shoot Anne’s driver (Alex Callender), however he was stopped by his security officer (Jim Beaton) and a passing journalist (Brian McConnell) who stepped in to help the Princess.
Ball planned to ask the queen for a £ 2 million ransom in exchange for her daughter, but things did not turn out as expected. When Ian demanded that Anne get out of the car, she refused, saying “not very likely.”
Speaking in the ITV documentary Anne: The Princess Royal at 70, the queen’s daughter recalled the events of that day on television (via The Independent):
“What’s interesting is what you remember and how you remember it,” he said. “Because even though I thought I remembered everything that happened, I could never have sworn that I could remember in the right order. Because they were like photos, individual snapshots. Very clearly.”
Beaton happened to have a gun, but Ball shot him before he managed to fire, freeing Anne to try to convince her kidnapper. Fortunately, a passerby named Ronnie Russell stepped in and hitting Ball over the head and ending the terrifying event.
Likewise, the Queen awarded all those who intervened in the kidnapping attempt, thanking them for helping the princess. Beaton was awarded George Cross, Russell and police officer Michael Hills, who had later arrived on the scene, received the George and Callender medal, McConnell and Detective Peter Edmonds received the Royal Highness Gala Medal.
Following his arrest, Ball pleaded guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping. To this day, he remains detained at Broadmoor Hospital. So why didn’t the kidnapping attempt appear on The Crown?
In interviewing historian Robert Lacey, who works on the show, Mollard learned that: “They had to choose what was meaningful, and while he acknowledged that it was an incredibly important story, he said it just didn’t fit the timeline, of the stories they wanted to tell besides that it interfered with the development of the characters ”.
While that’s fair to some extent, it seems ridiculous that The Crown overlooks something so dramatic in favor of Philip’s fictional (and tedious) obsession with the moon landing.
If Ian Ball had tried to kidnap Prince Charles instead of Princess Anne, it’s safe to say that this certainly would have taken center stage in season three, or at least referred to him in the latest installment.
Actress Erin Doherty, who plays Anne in seasons three and four, told Harper’s Bazaar that this story played a critical role in how she approached the role:
“When I found out that he had resisted a kidnapping, it blew me away! Especially since he would have been, about 24 or 25 years old, the simple fact that someone had a gun to his face while saying, ‘Well, you’re going to being kidnapped now ‘, she just deftly replied, “No!” I don’t know how she managed it but that says a lot. ”
Doherty’s sardonic portrayal of Anne was understated and the best of The Crown season three, making this omission all the more frustrating, plus sadly that’s not the only interesting thing about her that they pushed aside.
Not only did Anne survive a kidnapping during that time, but her first marriage was broadcast to some 500 million viewers around the world, and she also became the first royal to compete in the Olympics.