Advertisement

Princess Anne's Bodyguard Recalls Harrowing Royal Kidnapping Attempt on 50th Anniversary

"After this incident with Princess Anne, royal protection changed drastically," Jim Beaton said

<p>PA Images via Getty</p> Princess Anne visited her bodyguard, Inspector James Beaton, at Westminster Hospital in London where he recovered from gunshot wounds sustained during the attempt to kidnap the Princess in a photo taken on March 25, 1974.

PA Images via Getty

Princess Anne visited her bodyguard, Inspector James Beaton, at Westminster Hospital in London where he recovered from gunshot wounds sustained during the attempt to kidnap the Princess in a photo taken on March 25, 1974.

Princess Anne’s heroic bodyguard is reflecting on her frightening royal kidnapping attempt 50 years ago.

Retired Metropolitan Police officer Jim Beaton offered new comment to the BBC about what happened on March 20, 1974, and how he was shot at three times by unemployed laborer Ian Ball. Ball tried to kidnap the newlywed Princess Royal, then 23, as she traveled back to Buckingham Palace after a charity event with her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, during which Ball fired a gun in her direction — a shot that hit Beaton.

"I've still got a bit of bullet lodged in the hand," Beaton, 81, said with a point to the place on his right palm and explained how everything changed that fateful day.

"We got about three-quarters of the way up The Mall and this white car pulled in front of us. This chap, Ian Ball, the driver of the white car, came back towards the royal car," he recalled. "I got out of my seat, came up out behind the car. And he went bang bang, and he shot me in the chest. I tried to fire back at him with my gun. I missed the first shot and then the gun jammed."

<p>Dan Kitwood/Getty</p> Former policeman Jim Beaton, GC Chairman of the Victoria And George Cross Association, on September 24, 2015.

Dan Kitwood/Getty

Former policeman Jim Beaton, GC Chairman of the Victoria And George Cross Association, on September 24, 2015.

Related: A Near-Kidnapping and Olympic Glory: All About the Queen's No-Frills Daughter, Princess Anne

The retired inspector recalled that Ball pointed his weapon at the princess and said, " 'Drop your gun or I'll shoot her,’ or something to that effect."

"He fired at the same time as my hand went up and the bullet went into my hand. We kicked the back door open, and there was Ian Ball standing there and he shot me in the abdomen," the policeman continued. "I struggled out of the car, half-dazed obviously…I went round the front of the car and laid down on the pavement."

Princess Anne’s chauffeur Alex Callender was also injured in the shots by Ball, who managed to climb into the front seat of her car and ordered the royal to get out, to which she reportedly replied with the iconic line, "Not bloody likely."

Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images Princess Anne at Sandringham, before the 1969 royal tour of Australia and New Zealand.
Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images Princess Anne at Sandringham, before the 1969 royal tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Related: 'The Crown' Skipped One of the Biggest Royal Scandals — Princess Anne's Real-Life Kidnapping!

The Princess Royal went to see Beaton at the hospital in London, and the retired policeman shared an anecdote about how staff urged him to cover up his wounded chest for modesty. 

"When Princess Anne came to see me in hospital, it was quite funny because the staff said, ‘Come on, you must put something on. Cover up your chest and all the wounds and things.' I said, ‘Oh, stop it,’ " he told the BBC. "We just said, you know, pleased that we are all sort of still alive and kicking, so to speak. "

Queen Elizabeth later awarded Beaton the George's Cross, Britain’s highest civilian award for gallantry, for his role in saving her daughter’s life, and also bestowed honors on Callender as well as the other policemen and onlookers who intervened.

<p>PA Images via Getty</p> An informal moment at Buckingham Palace, where Queen Elizabeth, watched by Princess Anne (r), thanked the seven heroes who went to the assistance of Princess Anne during the Ian Ball's attempt to kidnap her.

PA Images via Getty

An informal moment at Buckingham Palace, where Queen Elizabeth, watched by Princess Anne (r), thanked the seven heroes who went to the assistance of Princess Anne during the Ian Ball's attempt to kidnap her.

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

Fifty years later, Beaton, who would go on to serve as Queen Elizabeth’s police officer and was later appointed to the Royal Victorian Order, said that the kidnapping attempt would forever change modern security for members of the British royal family.

"After this incident with Princess Anne, royal protection changed drastically, really. Slightly better guns, better ammunition. More courses, more training, more people, suddenly all appeared literally within days," he told the BBC. "It really is a different world altogether. Very different from when I started.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.