What The Crown doesn't tell you

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Princess Anne was nearly kidnapped

Princess Anne gets some mention in season three of The Crown, but there’s one huge event which isn’t covered; in 1974 she was nearly taken hostage. When Anne and her then-husband Mark Phillips were being driven back to Buckingham Palace one evening, a white Ford escort pulled out in front of their chauffeur driven Rolls Royce. A man jumped out of the car and started firing a pistol, shooting Princess Anne’s driver and royal protection officer.

He opened Anne’s passenger door and said: “I want you to come with me for a day or two, because I want two million. Will you get out of the car?” to which Anne replied: “Not bloody likely – I haven’t got 2 million.” Eventually a police officer and passer-by came to her rescue. Despite 11 shots being fired, and four of her staff being injured, nobody was seriously hurt and the kidnapper, later identified as Ian Ball, was arrested and detained under the mental health act.

Prince Charles was caught underage drinking

Season two of The Crown glossed over Prince Charles’ eventful outing from the prestigious Gordonstoun school, but it was one of the young Prince’s most infamous moments. When a 14-year old Charles and some of his classmates sailed to the nearby Isle of Lewis, locals were quick to notice the young heir to the throne and his friends ordering drinks in a local pub – including Charles who ordered a cherry brandy. The incident was reported in the national press and Charles’ bodyguard, who had become a father figure and confidant to the heir to the throne, was fired by the police. “The whole world exploded around my ears,” the adult Charles recalled. “I thought it was the end of the world.”

Princess Alice was committed to a sanitorium

There’s just one passing reference to Princess Alice’s mental health issues in The Crown. “Just out of a sanitorium I heard,” says the Queen Mother of Prince Philip’s mum in one scene. But there’s a lot more to the story. In 1930, Princess Alice had a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Taken away from her family, including nine-year old Prince Philip, against her wishes, she was taken to a sanitorium in Switzerland, where she stayed for two years. Doctors called Sigmund Freud to determine what was wrong with her, and he decreed her hallucinations were due to sexual frustration, and prescribed an X-ray of her ovaries to cure her.

None of her family visited her during her two-year stay. By the time she was released, Prince Philip was attending Gordonstoun School in Scotland, and Princess Alice tried to keep a low profile by travelling around Europe. When her daughter Cecilie was killed in a plane crash, Alice attended the funeral and saw the rest of her family for the first time in six years. She then returned to Athens, where she’d lived as a young woman, to live a modest life and help the poor.

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