I’m now at the crown of the road and I’m sort of fifteen, eighteen feet away from him. He’s got Princess Anne by the arm and he’s got a gun at her head, and there’s a tug-of-war going on and he’s saying, “C’mon Anne, you’ve got to come, you know you’ve got to come.”
It was at that moment that she ceased to be this person in the palace that you see. Suddenly there was a real person in front of me.
At that moment, I see a police officer running towards the car. You think that’s it, it’s all over, the police are there now. And I see him just turn, and shoot the policeman.
At the point of realizing that this was more than just a row at the car: I’m seeing a police officer shot. It just kicked in that this has got to stop.
And at that point, I thought I am actually going to smack you so hard now, you will really regret this whole incident; you’ll wish you hadn’t got up this morning.
THE LONDON GAZETTE
FRIDAY, 27TH SEPTEMBER 1974
CENTRAL CHANCERY OF THE ORDERS OF KNIGHTHOOD
ST. JAMES’S PALACE, LONDON s.w.i.
THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following awards of the George Cross, the George Medal and the Queen’s Gallantry Medal and for the publication in the London Gazette of the names of those specially shown below as having received an expression of Commendation for Brave Conduct.
(To be dated 5th July 1974)
James Wallace BEATON, Inspector, Metropolitan Police.
Awarded the George Medal
Michael John HILLS, Constable, Metropolitan Police.
Ronald George RUSSELL, Area Manager, Exclusive Office Cleaning, London E.2.
Awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal
Alexander CALLENDER, Chauffeur, Royal Household.
Peter Roy EDMONDS, Constable, Metropolitan Police.
John Brian McCONNELL, Freelance Journalist, Dulwich Village, London S.E.21.
Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct
Glenmore Thomas Walter MARTIN, Chauffeur, Lydney, Gloucestershire.
At about 8 p.m. on 20th March 1974, Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips were returning to Buckingham Palace from an official engagement. Their car was being driven by Mr. Callender and they were accompanied by Princess Anne’s personal Police Officer, Inspector Beaton, and her Lady-in-Waiting.
As the Royal car approached the junction of the Mall with Marlborough Road, a white car swerved in front of it, causing Mr. Callender to stop suddenly. Leaving the vehicle, the driver went to the Royal car and Inspector Beaton, who was seated in the front passenger seat, got out to see what was wrong. As Inspector Beaton approached, the man pointed a revolver at him and fired, wounding him in the shoulder. Despite his wound the Inspector drew his pistol and fired at the man, but the shot missed. He was unable to fire again as his gun jammed, and as he moved to the nearside of the car and tried to clear the stoppage the gunman told him to drop his weapon, or he would shoot Princess Anne. As he was unable to clear the weapon the officer placed it on the ground. The gunman was trying to open the rear offside door of the Royal car and was demanding that Princess Anne went with him, but Princess Anne and Captain Phillips were struggling to keep the door closed. As soon as the Lady-in-Waiting left by the rear nearside door Inspector Beaton entered the same way, and leant across to shield Princess Anne with his body. Captain Phillips managed to close the door and the Inspector, seeing that the man was about to fire into the back of the car, put his hand up to the window directly in the line of fire to absorb the impact of the bullet. The gunman fired, shattering the window, and the officer was wounded in the right hand by the bullet and by broken glass. Despite his wounds the Inspector asked Captain Phillips to release his grip on the door so that he might kick it open violently to throw the man off balance. However, before he could do so, the man opened the door and fired at the officer again, wounding him in the stomach. The Inspector fell from the offside door and collapsed unconscious at the gunman’s feet.
Mr. Callender meanwhile had tried to get out of the car, but the gunman had put the pistol to his head and told him not to move. Undeterred, he got out of the car at the first opportunity and grabbed the man’s arm in an attempt to remove the gun. Although the gunman threatened to shoot him, Mr. Callender clung to the man’s arm until he was shot in the chest.
Mr. McConnell was travelling in a taxi along the Mall when he heard shots. As a Royal car appeared to be involved, he stopped the taxi and ran back to the scene, where he found the gunman shouting at the occupants of the car. Seeing the gun in the man’s hand, Mr. McConnell went up to him in a placatory manner and asked him to hand over the gun. The man told him to get back, but when Mr. McConnell continued to approach he took aim and fired, wounding him in the chest. Mr. McConnell staggered away and collapsed.
Constable Hills was on duty at St. James’s Palace when he heard a noise and saw the cars stationary in the Mall. Thinking there had been an accident, he reported by personal radio and went to the scene. He saw a man trying to pull someone from the back of the car and touched his arm, whereupon the man spun round, moved a few feet away and pointed the gun at the officer. As Constable Hills moved forward to take the gun, the gunman shot him in the stomach and returned to the rear of the car. The officer staggered away and, using his personal radio, sent a clear and concise message to Cannon Row Police Station reporting the gravity of the situation and calling for assistance. As he walked round the back of the car he saw Inspector Beaton’s discarded gun, and picking it up returned to the offside of the vehicle intending to shoot the gunman. However, he felt very faint and did not use the weapon as he could not be sure of his aim. He was assisted to the side of the road where he collapsed.
Mr. Martin was also driving along the Mall and when he saw the situation, he drove his motor car in front of the gunman’s car to prevent any possible escape. He then went to the Royal car to render assistance, but the gunman pushed a gun in his ribs. At this point Constable Hills intervened and was shot and it was Mr. Martin who assisted him to the side of the road.
Mr. Russell was driving along the Mall when he saw the gunman attempting to open the door of the Royal car. He stopped and as he ran back he heard shots. Arriving at the car, he saw the man with the gun in his hand and Police Constable Hills being assisted to the side of the road. Regardless of the obvious danger, and seeing that the gunman was holding Princess Anne by the forearm and trying to wrest her from the car, Mr. Russell ran up and punched him on the back of the head. The man immediately turned and fired at him, but fortunately the shot missed. Mr. Russell then tried to get Constable Hills’ truncheon, but hearing more commotion he returned to the Royal car from which the gunman was still trying to drag Princess Anne with one hand, while pointing a gun at her with the other and threatening to shoot if she refused to come. While maintaining her refusal, Princess Anne managed to delay the gunman and to distract his attention by engaging him in conversation. Captain Phillips kept his arm firmly round her waist and was trying to pull her back into the car. Mr. Russell now ran around to the other side of the car, and saw that Princess Anne had broken free from the gunman and was about to leave by the nearside door. She was almost out of the car when the gunman came up behind Mr. Russell and once again tried to reach Princess Anne. Captain Phillips promptly pulled her back into the car and Mr. Russell punched the man on the face. At this point other police officers began to arrive in response to Constable Hills’ call for assistance and the gunman ran off.
Constable Edmonds was one of the first police officers on the scene, and he saw the gunman running away with the gun still in his hand. Without hesitating the Constable gave chase shouting to the gunman to stop, but the man continued to run and pointed the gun directly at the officer. Completely undeterred, the Constable charged the man and knocked him to the ground. Other police officers who had also given chase immediately threw themselves on the man and disarmed him.
The wounded men were all taken to hospital, where bullets were removed from Inspector Beaton, Mr. Callender and Mr. McConnell. Constable Hills received treatment for his wound, but no attempt has been made to remove the bullet from his liver.
All the individuals involved in the kidnap attempt on Princess Anne displayed outstanding courage and a complete disregard for their personal safety when they each faced this dangerous armed man who did not hesitate to use his weapons. It is entirely due to their actions—as well as to the calmness, bravery and presence of mind shown both by Princess Anne and by Captain Mark Phillips in circumstances of great peril— that the attack was unsuccessful.