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The royal family's most shocking near-death experiences

They've had some lucky escapes!

royal family near death experiences© Photo: Getty Images
Chloe Ash
Social Media Content Producer
March 3, 2020
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Near-death experiences can happen to anyone, and the royal family are not exempt from immortality. The Queen and her family have lived to tell their fair share of dramatic stories, from Sarah, Duchess of York narrowly escaping the Twin Towers attack to Princess Anne evading kidnapping. Take a look at the royals' close calls...

Princess Anne's attempted abduction

In 1974, Princess Anne was nearly kidnapped when an armed man attacked her car on the Mall outside Buckingham Palace. On their way back to Buckingham Palace after attending a charity event in a chauffeur-driven limousine, the car was stopped in its tracks when Ian Ball, 26, pulled his Ford Escort in front of the Princess' limousine. Royal protection officer James Beaton was shot three times, alongside the driver and a passing tabloid journalist. Speaking on BBC TV show Parkinson years after the event, the Princess explained: "He opened the door, and we had sort of a discussion, about where or where not we were going to go…he said I had to go with him, can't remember why. I said I didn’t think I wanted to go." She did upon the request leave the car, before former boxer Ron Russel hit the kidnapper and a policeman was shot again before the man was detained. This was the first close abduction that led to an increase in the security for the royal family.

camilla in helicopter© Photo: Getty Images

The Duchess of Cornwall's near misses in royal helicopter

Prince Charles' wife Camilla experienced a rather terrifying flight in the summer of 2018 when her aircraft was involved in two near misses. The Duchess was travelling from Sandringham Flower Show to her house in Wiltshire without Charles.

The first near collision occurred when Camilla's royal Sikorsky S76 helicopter almost crashed into another aircraft, a De Havilland Canada DHC-6, carrying parachutists. According to the Daily Mail, the royal helicopter was within nine seconds of a head-on collision. The pilot of the De Havilland Canada DHC-6 had failed to alert flight controllers at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, of his presence. He was carrying out his eighth flight that day and was "distracted by passengers in the back", a UK Airprox Board report revealed.

Around 45 minutes later, while preparing to land, Camilla's helicopter made another emergency manoeuvre at 160mph after fortunately spotting a glider and serving to avoid them.

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Prince Charles' skiing accident

In 1988, whilst on a skiing holiday, the Prince of Wales nearly died when his skiing group was hit by an avalanche. Although the Prince survived without injuries, sadly his friend Major Hugh Lindsay, who was the Queen's Equerry, lost his life. Major Hugh Lindsay was a close friend of the Prince and Princess of Wales and was also the husband of Sarah Lindsay who worked in the press office at Buckingham Palace; she was seven months pregnant with their first child at the time.

A day after the tragic accident, the royal party, with Major Hugh Lindsay's coffin, flew back to RAF Northolt in north-west London to a guard of honour from his regiment, the 9th/12th Lancers.

After his death, Prince Charles became a dutiful godfather to Sarah and Major Hugh's daughter and the Princess of Wales was a constant source of strength. Speaking to The Telegraph back in 2008, Sarah said: "The Princess was fantastic. She used to ring me every Sunday evening. She was a dear friend -someone I could ring at midnight and say: 'Life is pretty grim.' The Princess of Wales instinctively knew when I might be feeling down - the school holidays and so on. She always had nice ideas about how to cheer me up."

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sarah ferguson september 11© Photo: Getty Images

Sarah Ferguson narrowly escaped 9/11

Sarah Ferguson revealed exclusively to HELLO! in 2018 that she is extremely lucky to still be here today. The mother-of-two explained that back in 2001 her charity Chances for Children gave her an office on the 101st floor of the North Tower of the Twin Towers in New York. And on the 11 September of that same year, Sarah was miraculously held up by traffic for 20 minutes, meaning she thankfully escaped being involved in the tragedy that took place that day. "I take every minute as a blessing, I really do, and I really work hard at it. Because the minute you look far forward then you're missing now. The minute you look back…you can't go back. Hindsight is a wonderful thing," she told HELLO!

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The Queen's near miss at the Trooping the Colour ceremony

In 1981, Queen Elizabeth II rode down The Mall to the Trooping the Colour ceremony when she was shot at by Marcus Sarjeant who fired six blank shots. The attempted assassination saw Marcus prosecuted under the Treason Act 1984, and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. Reflecting on the footage with the BBC, Prince Charles praised the monarch's reaction, explaining: "She is a marvellous rider so… she has a marvellous way with horses… made of strong stuff."

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The Queen's bedroom intruder

Michael Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace and entered the Queen's bedroom in July 1982. The 33-year-old scaled the palace's wall before climbing up a drainpipe and wandering into the Queen's bedroom at 7:15am. Michael explained he had already broken into Buckingham Palace a month before; the unemployed decorator revealed that on this previous occasion, he entered the palace through an unlocked window on the roof, before eating cheddar cheese on crackers and wandering around the palace.

the queen new zealand assassination attempt© Photo: Getty Images

The Queen target of assassination attempt

In 1981, whilst the British monarch was touring New Zealand, a teenager aimed and shot at the Queen, fortunately missing. The 17-year-old loaded his rifle in an abandoned toilet cubicle in Dunedin, aiming at the Queen from five storeys above. In the 1981 annual police reports the severity of this security breach is indicated: "The discharge of a firearm during the visit of Her Majesty the Queen serves to remind us all of the potential risks to royalty, particularly during public walks."

READ MORE: The Queen's most lavish gifts to royal family members

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The Queen was nearly shot by Buckingham Palace staff

An ex-guardsman told The Times that the Queen would occasionally go for a short stroll around the palace grounds, and on one occasion, whilst the guard was patrolling inside the perimeter of the palace walls, he spotted a figure on the grounds. After calling out, the guard established that the Queen was the intruder, before announcing "Bloody hell, Your Majesty, I nearly shot you." The 92-year-old replied: "That's quite all right, next time I'll ring through beforehand so you don't have to shoot me."

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