Saturday, January 01, 2005

Now for something completely different

The Australians and British have this quaint custom of declassifying documents that are 30 years old on New Year's day. As a result there are a raft of stories mostly of the low comedy variety. I particularly liked the Gough Whitlam follies including nearly accepting a con man's offer to loan the Australian government big bucks. However, my favorite is Princess foiled 1974 kidnap plot:
Ian Ball, a 26-year-old burglar with mental health problems, ambushed Princess Anne's car in the Mall, London, one night in March 1974.

He had asked her to "come with me for a day or two" because he wanted £2m.

Papers released under the 30-year rule show the Princess told him "bloody likely, and I haven't got £2m".

The briefing has been released by the National Archives.

In the document, written for prime minister Harold Wilson, the Princess said the only thing that had stopped her from hitting Ball was the thought that he would shoot her.

"It was all so infuriating; I kept saying I didn't want to get out of the car, and I was not going to get out of the car," she said.

"I nearly lost my temper with him, but I knew that if I did, I should hit him and he would shoot me."

Ball was apprehended after shooting and wounding two police officers, Princess Anne's driver and a journalist who had been following in a taxi.
Mr Wilson wrote in green pen at the top of the file: "A very good story. Pity the Palace can't let it come out. Perhaps it will in court. HW"
I'm not a huge fan of the Royals, but enjoy the idea of feisty Anne telling off a kidnapper with a gun.

Other revelations in the documents by following the link including:
Ugandan dictator Idi Amin offered to save the UK from financial ruin, and suggested he could broker peace in Northern Ireland
Too bad ole Idi isn't around anymore. He'd be a hero at the United Nations.