Break-Ins, Robberies, and an Attempted Kidnapping: 6 Crimes That Shook the Royal Family
From attempted kidnappings to breaking into Buckingham palace, the royal family have been victims of plenty of shocking crimes. We look back at six of the crimes that left the royal family reeling.
Diana’s Stolen Love Letters
In 1998, love letters sent by Princess Diana to James Hewitt were stolen from a safe in the former army captain’s home.The 64 letters, written between 1989 and 1991, were allegedly taken by James’ ex-fiancee Anna Ferretti, who then tried to sell them to a British newspaper. The media group handed the letters over to Kensington Palace without publishing them.
But while Anna was arrested and questioned by police, and later said she regretted her actions, she wasn’t prosecuted. If she had been, the letters would have become court exhibits, which could have embarrassed the royal family.
Palace Thief Nabbed
Adamo Canto was jailed for eight months in January after stealing what police called a “significant quantity” of items from Buckingham Palace, where he worked as a catering assistant. During the court case it was revealed Canto took 77 items from the palace shops, staff lockers, and a royal storeroom.
They included signed photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton, medals, and a bespoke Samsung phone manufactured for Prince Andrew. The items were then sold on eBay.The 37-year-old’s defense for stealing was that he’d got into debt because his palace pay was “minimal” and he couldn’t sustain the lifestyle he wanted.
Bloody Attempt to Kidnap a Princess
In March 1974, the Queen’s daughter and her then husband Captain Mark Phillips were returning to Buckingham Palace after a charity film event when a car overtook them and blocked the road.The driver, later revealed to be Ian Ball, pulled out a handgun, shot Anne’s chauffeur and security officer as well as a passing journalist.
When Ball told Anne he intended to kidnap her and told her to get out of the car, she famously replied, “Not bloody likely!” Ball was apprehended and eventually pleaded guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and is still detained in a secure psychiatric institution.
The Queen’s Intruder
In 1982, Michael Fagan famously managed to break into Buckingham Palace — twice! During his first attempt, the then 33-year-old Londoner climbed up a drain pipe and into a royal housemaid’s bedroom. She ran to get help but by the time she returned, Fagan had moved to another part of the palace. He later described spending half an hour wandering around, sitting on different thrones and even drinking half a bottle of wine before leaving. The second break-in occurred a month later. This time, after scaling the four meter palace wall, Fagan entered the Queen’s bedroom.
Different versions of what happened next have been reported — and dramatized on The Crown — but in a 2012 interview Fagan denied sitting at the end of the Queen’s bed and talking to her. Instead, he claimed that as soon as she became aware of his presence, she called security on the phone and when no one answered, ran off to get help. A servant then escorted Fagan from the room and soon after he was arrested. Although he wasn’t jailed for the trespassing, Fagan did spend time in a psychiatric hospital and was later jailed for four years for conspiring to supply heroin.
The Butler’s Stash
Former royal butler Paul Burrell was arrested for theft in January 2001 after a raid on his home led to the recovery of thousands of items police believed were taken from Diana’s Kensington Palace apartment. The possessions included paintings, drawings, china, photographs, clothes and even personal notes from the late princess to her sons.
But just days into the trial, the case dramatically collapsed. It was revealed the Queen had suddenly recalled a meeting soon after Diana’s death during which Paul had told her that he’d kept some of her possessions for safe keeping. It was later alleged the Queen intervened to stop the case after Prince Charles became concerned by what Diana’s trusted aide would reveal in court.
Margaret and the Gangster
For years it has been rumored that criminals attempted to rob a London bank in 1971 to get their hands on compromising photos of Princess Margaret and actor-turned-gangster John Bindon. The photos were allegedly taken while the couple were vacationing together in Mustique in the Caribbean and then locked away in the vaults of a central London bank to ensure they never got into the wrong hands.
Whether or not the rumors were true, the burglars were overheard planning the heist on walkie talkies and four gang members were eventually arrested. The photos have never been published.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.