<![CDATA[On March 20, 1974, Princess Anne’s bodyguard, Inspector James Wallace Beaton, sat in the passenger’s seat of a maroon Rolls-Royce Limousine, heading to Buckingham Palace after accompanying Princess Anne and her husband to a charity film screening. Soon, a white Ford Escort overtook the limo and forced them to a stop-they were 200 yards from the palace. Ian Ball, a 26-year-old man with a history of mental illness, exited the Ford and charged Princess Anne’s vehicle. Inspector Beaton, assuming this was a case of a disgruntled driver, calmly stepped out of the vehicle to talk to Ian when he was stopped by a bullet to his right shoulder.
Ian Ball meant to kidnap the Princess Royal in exchange for £2 million ransom to be delivered in £5 sterling notes. This money was to be delivered by Queen Elizabeth II herself and stored in 20 unlocked suitcases, placed on a private plane whose destination is Switzerland.
Inspector Beaton’s training took over and immediately fired back at Ball, however his gun jammed after the first shot. Undeterred, he stumbled back towards the car and as Princess Anne’s lady-in-waiting opened the door on the passenger’s side to leave the vehicle, he climbed in. Inspector Beaton and wedged himself between the royal couple and Ball, who was desperately shaking the door handle, trying to open it.
Ian Ball then shot at the car, and into Inspector Beaton’s hand. Ball then fired again and Inspector Beaton fell out of the car and on the ground. A royal chauffeur, Alexander Callendar, took Inspector Beaton’s place in front of the Princess and was shot in the chest.
Ian Ball now had his hand on Princess’s Anne’s arm and was trying to pull her from her vehicle as her husband kept a firm grasp around her waist, not giving into the kidnapper.
Before the police captured him, he also shot Police Constable Michael Hills and Journalist John Brian McConnell.
Today, Prince Harry walked into the service of remembrance and re-dedication for members of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in central London with Inspector James Beaton by his side.
Inspector Beaton received the George Cross for his courageous efforts protecting the Princess Royal. The George Cross is the Britain’s top award for gallantry by civilians or by military personnel not in the presence of the enemy. King George VI introduced the award in September 1940 at the height of the Blitz.
At the service, Royal Navy Officer Reverend Scott Brown urged those in attendance to remember “the courage, devotion to duty and the self-sacrifice” of members of the armed forces and the “toil, endurance and suffering” of those not in uniform.
He said: “Let us remember those who were wounded in the fight, those who perished in air raids at home, those who fell in battle and are buried at sea or in the corner of some foreign field.”
Prince Harry was representing his father, the Prince of Wales, who is currently on a four-day tour of Colombia with the Duchess of Cornwall. Before he departed, he staged an afternoon reception for the association on Monday.
Photo Credit:photo credit: Jim Linwood via photopin cc]]>