was the target of a kidnap attempt on March 20, 1974, when she was travelling back to after attending a charity event at Pall Mall. A 23-year-old Anne was accompanied by her first husband Captain Mark Phillips, her chauffeur, and security officer Jim Beaton. At the time, the royals were only accompanied by one protection officer and following the incident, the made significant changes to update their security. As Mr Beaton explained, everything changed "overnight".

During their journey back to the Palace, Anne and her husband's car was blocked by another vehicle and suddenly, its driver pulled a handgun on the Princess.

Ball shot Anne's chauffeur, Alexander Callender, Mr Beaton and a nearby tabloid journalist who attempted to intervene.

The protection officer was shot by Ball before he even had the chance to draw his own weapon. Having been hit in the shoulder, Mr Beaton tried to fire back at the assailant, but missed. Upon a second attempt, his gun - a Walther PPK - jammed.

Mr Beaton, then a 31-year-old inspector, had . When Ball's vehicle forced the royal chauffeur to stop on The Mall, the officer got out to investigate.


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Recounting the incident to the Times last year, he said: "I thought it was somebody who wanted to be a pain in the neck...There was no hint of what was to happen."

Ball, who was trying to kidnap only daughter for £2million ransom, had two guns and demanded that Mr Beaton surrender his weapon, threatening to shoot the Princess.

As the assailant tried to force entry to the car, Mr Beaton went round to the other side, climbing in beside the royal couple. When Ball fired again, the officer put up his own arm to obstruct the bullet and save the Princess.

Mr Beaton was shot through the hand and then shot in the abdomen. He told the police in his statement: "I felt tired and very drunk, although I hadn't been drinking. I just wanted to lie down."

Meanwhile, Anne demonstrated her own impressive coolness under pressure -

Ball was finally stopped by a passer-by who happened to be former heavyweight boxer Ronnie Russell, who punched the would-be kidnapper, causing him to flee and ultimately get caught by police officers.

Mr Beaton was not the only one shot by Ball: journalist Brian McConnell; Anne's chauffeur Alexander Callender and Michael Hills, a police constable on duty at St James's Palace, all sustained injuries from the gunfire. Fortunately, they all survived.

But from then on, royal security changed forever.

"I had nothing. There was no backup vehicle," said Mr Beaton, who was Anne's only police bodyguard. "The training was non-existent; but then again, [we thought] nothing was going to happen. They are highly specialised now, highly trained."

When the Princess visited Mr Beaton in hospital, she was accompanied by two policemen. "From then on, that's what it was," he told The Times.

The type of guns used by protection officers was also changed. After Mr Beaton's weapon had jammed, "the Walthers were got rid of overnight".

Mr Beaton continued to work for Anne for another five years and later worked for the Queen. He was honoured for his bravery in the altercation, receiving the George Cross - the highest civilian honour for gallantry.

Anne previously opened up about the terrifying moment, recalling the incident in a documentary to mark her 70th birthday in 2020. The Princess revealed she still remembers each moment "like photographs".

Speaking on ITV's Anne: The Princess Royal at 70, the Queen's daughter said: "What is interesting is what you remember and how you remember it, because although I thought I remembered everything that happened I would never have been able to swear I could remember in the right order.

"Because they were like photos, individual snapshots. Very clearly."

Mr Beaton told the documentary: "Anne, because ."

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