Royals Who Surprisingly Had Near-Death Experiences

Being a royal is full of perks, but rarely do we talk about all of the struggles these families face. Yes, many aspects of their lives involve luxuries most can only dream of, but royals are also more likely to experience certain dangers. Monarchs and their families are often the targets of aggressive paparazzi, kidnappings, assassinations, stalking, and more — much like political figures.

We've seen these tragedies play out many times throughout history. Princess Diana's untimely death was one of the most notable instances. The beloved Princess of Wales was killed in a car accident on August 31, 1997, after being chased by paparazzi. Reports revealed that her driver was intoxicated as he sped away from photographers. He eventually lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris. Diana's driver and her then-boyfriend, movie producer Dodi Fayed, were killed on impact. The mother of two died of her injuries at a hospital after an hours-long unsuccessful surgery. Although this tragedy took place decades ago, it serves as a reminder of the dangers royals face due to their high-profile roles.

There have been quite a few instances in which royals nearly lost their lives due to various scary incidents — some at others' hands and some to Mother Nature. From Queen Elizabeth II being shot at multiple times to King Charles III nearly losing his life in an avalanche, here are the royals who surprisingly had near-death experiences.

King Charles III almost lost his life in a skiing accident

Fans of "The Crown" might recall that King Charles III, then Prince Charles, nearly lost his life while skiing. The real-life story behind this incident is just as frightening. In 1988, Charles and Queen Elizabeth II's aide, Major Hugh Lindsay, along with friend Patricia Palmer-Tomkinson traveled to a high-end ski resort in Switzerland. When an avalanche began, Charles was able to escape danger, but Lindsay and Palmer-Tomkinson were trapped beneath the snow. Charles helped dig the women out but they unfortunately did not walk away unharmed.

Lindsay died after being transported to a nearby hospital while Palmer-Tomkinson suffered two broken legs. Charles was reportedly deeply impacted by the tragedy. He was said to be distressed and was seen "weeping," The Guardian reported at the time. It is alleged that Princess Diana, who was also on the trip but didn't ski the day of the avalanche, was frustrated with Charles following the incident. "Diana blamed Charles for his recklessness in choosing such a hazardous run," author Tina Brown wrote in "The Diana Chronicles." It's been speculated that the relationship troubles that resulted from the avalanche shifted the dynamic of Charles and Diana's marriage.

Queen Elizabeth II was the target of two assassination attempts

Queen Elizabeth II survived multiple near-death experiences. In 1981, the late monarch attended the Trooping the Colour ceremony, riding through the crowd on horseback. What should have been a day of celebration quickly became a threat to Elizabeth's safety as she was the target of an assassination attempt. Then-17-year-old Marcus Sarjeant shot six times at the queen. Thankfully, they were blanks, and Elizabeth was able to calm her startled horse and even continued on with the event.

The teenager was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. A disturbing letter written by Sarjeant came to light in court. "Your Majesty," he penned, per Mirror. "Don't go to the Trooping the Colour ceremony because there is an assassin set up to kill you, waiting just outside the Palace." Sarjeant mailed this letter to Buckingham Palace but it arrived days after the event, so the royals were unaware.

Elizabeth was shockingly also the target of a separate assassination attempt just months after the Trooping the Colour incident. During a visit to Dunedin, New Zealand, another 17-year-old, Christopher Lewis, shot at Elizabeth as she traveled through a parade. Lewis fired shots at the queen from a window overlooking the event. Afterward, he was eventually located and arrested. New Zealand officials reportedly attempted to cover up the shooting, and the loud bang was initially reported as a sign that had fallen over.

An alleged attempted train derailment could've taken Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip's lives

One alleged assassination attempt involving Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, may have remained a secret for decades. Retired detective Cliff McHardy came forward to allege that an unidentified suspect or suspects placed a large wooden log on a railroad track as Elizabeth and Philip traveled through Australia back in 1970, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported back in 2009. It is believed that this was done in an attempt to derail the royals' train. Instead, the log got stuck beneath the train's wheels because it was not moving fast enough to be thrown off the tracks. "If the train had reached its normal speed it would have plunged off the tracks and into an embankment," McHardy told The Telegraph. However, the public did not know anything about the situation at the time.

McHardy claimed that investigators were told to keep things under wraps to protect Australia's reputation. The retired detective spoke to the Mercury about the guilt of having to stay quiet about the alleged incident. "It was one of the big regrets of my police service," he told the paper. "We never came up with any decent suspects because if we interviewed people we seemed to be talking in riddles. We couldn't disclose what our inquiries were about."

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the incident but did reveal that the royal family's staff were not aware of the alleged derailment attempt. 

Queen Elizabeth II was nearly shot by her own guard

By now you might be thinking Queen Elizabeth II couldn't have possibly faced yet another near-death experience. Well, the late monarch was actually almost killed by her own guard. She likes to take nighttime strolls throughout Buckingham Palace.

One night, this pastime almost resulted in tragedy because a guard mistook her for an intruder. "Who's that?" a guard called out when he saw her figure in the dark, as reported by The Times. He then realized he hadn't come across an intruder but rather the queen herself. "Bloody hell, Your Majesty, I nearly shot you," the guard told her. Elizabeth seemingly wasn't all that upset. "That's quite all right," she responded. "Next time I'll ring through beforehand so you don't have to shoot me."

You might recall that the queen wasn't the only royal to be mistaken for a Buckingham Palace intruder. In 2013, police officers requested that Prince Andrew confirm his identity when they didn't recognize him. Thankfully for the prince, no guns were drawn during the incident. "The police have a difficult job to do balancing security for the royal family and deterring intruders, and sometimes they get it wrong," the prince said in a statement provided to The Guardian. "I am grateful for their apology and look forward to a safe walk in the garden in the future."

Sarah Ferguson could've been killed in 9/11

Sarah Ferguson, the former Duchess of York, was nearly one of the thousands who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The then-duchess was on her way to her office on the 101st floor of the North Tower on the day of the tragedy. Sarah worked for her Chances for Children charity out of the office. Thankfully, she got stuck in traffic and did not arrive as scheduled.

In an interview with Hello! magazine in 2018, the mother of two spoke about how the near-death experience changed her perspective. "I take every minute as a blessing, I really do, and I really work hard at it," she explained. "Because the minute you look too far forward, then you're missing now. The minute you look back ... you can't go back."

She went on to share that she created a doll named Little Red as a mascot for Chances for Children, and it was found buried beneath the aftermath of 9/11. "From 101 floors Little Red came down in her dress, a little tiny ragdoll, and she was found in the rubble," Sarah revealed. "And CNN filmed it and said 'Oh a child's doll,'" and Larry King said 'No, that's Little Red, and she stands for children's rights all over the world.'" Sarah continued, saying, "From Little Red, I've gone on to build a lot of schools and taught many teachers."

Camilla, Queen Consort, was almost involved in multiple helicopter crashes

In 2018, Camilla, Queen Consort, was involved in a scary helicopter incident that could have taken her life. She was on her way back home when the helicopter she was traveling in nearly collided with another aircraft. According to Daily Mail, an air traffic controller reported there was a "high" chance that the aircrafts would have crashed into one another. Terrifyingly, the helicopter narrowly avoided another collision as it landed less than an hour later.

In 2020, Camilla was involved in another scary incident when the plane she was flying in hit a bird. Despite the plane taking damage, it thankfully landed safely. It is safe to assume that these aircraft complications left Camilla shaken up because she reportedly has a fear of flying. In fact, she didn't accompany her husband, King Charles III, on part of a tour through Australia in 2018, as she would've needed to take multiple flights.

A Clarence House spokesperson shared details of her decision with Daily Mail, assuaging fears that the then-duchess was ill. "There are no health reasons [for her pulling out after two days]. She is as fit as a flea." However, the spokesperson added, "The Duchess does not like flying but I think she sometimes has to embrace that fear and get on with it."

Princess Anne was nearly kidnapped

Princess Anne's bravery was put on display when she was the target of an attempted kidnapping. One night in 1974, the royal and her then-husband Mark Phillips were in a vehicle on their way to Buckingham Palace. They were accompanied by a driver, a bodyguard, and Anne's lady-in-waiting. A man named Ian Ball blocked the group's car with his own and then got out and began shooting. He ended up shooting Anne's bodyguard, Inspector James Wallace Beaton, in the shoulder. Ball eventually made his way to the car and instructed Anne to get out. She didn't budge. "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 later revealed, according to the Smithsonian.

After passersby jumped in to help, Ball was distracted enough that Anne was able to get out of the car. When he attempted to follow her, she jumped back in the vehicle and shut the doors behind her. Ball was later charged with attempted murder and kidnapping, the Daily Mail reported.

Anne recalled the attempted kidnapping during ITV's documentary "Anne: The Princess Royal at 70." She revealed she had actually thought about what she would do if she were ever kidnapped long before the actual incident. "One thing about horses and sport is you have to prepare for the unexpected and you've got to think through the problems that are likely to occur," the princess said. "I suppose that was the discipline which to some extent colored my thought processes."

The Dutch royal family was almost run over

Members of the British royal family haven't been the only ones to have brushes with death. In 2009, the Dutch royal family was the target of an attack during a parade. A driver sped toward the family's open bus but instead crashed into a nearby monument — but not before hitting bystanders. The royals were unharmed but six others were killed in the attack. The suspect, who was later identified as Karst Tates, also died of injuries sustained in the crash.

Details of Tates' motive were never revealed because he died before a full investigation could be conducted. The mayor of Apeldoorn in the Netherlands. the city where the tragedy took place. shared a statement with Associated Press. "It is very difficult now that we no longer have the suspect to reconstruct what was behind this," Fred de Graaf said. "An element of uncertainty will remain because you can no longer question the suspect. So the last piece of the puzzle will remain in question."

Princess Beatrix shared the royals' reaction in a statement, saying, "What started as a beautiful day has ended in terrible drama, which has shocked us deeply." Following the tragedy, the Dutch royal family reportedly took another look at their security measures.

An intruder broke into Queen Elizabeth II's room

In July 1982, Queen Elizabeth II received an unwanted visitor when intruder Michael Fagan broke into her bedroom. According to a report from Scotland Yard shared by The New York Times, Fagan managed to climb railings to enter Buckingham Palace. He made his way into the building through an unlocked window and navigated his way through. The intruder eventually located the queen's room. "Fagan entered Her Majesty's bedroom at about 7:15 A.M. carrying one piece of the broken ashtray, with which he has said that he intended to slash his wrists in the presence of Her Majesty," the report read. "He claimed that he had not entered the palace with this intention but that it formed in his mind for the first time when he saw the ashtray." Elizabeth called the police and she and a staff member managed to trick Fagan into entering a pantry. The intruder was arrested once law enforcement arrived.

This story resurfaced in 2022 thanks to an episode of "The Crown." Fagan sat down with The U.S. Sun ahead of the episode to share his side of the story. He claimed he had no plans to harm himself despite reports that stated otherwise. "I was fixated on the Queen," he shared. "I knew she liked helping people and thought she might help me. I wanted to speak to her but I never planned to end up in her bedroom."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were involved in a 'near catastrophic' car chase

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made headlines once again in May 2023 after their spokesperson came forward to release a statement regarding an intense car chase involving paparazzi. As Harry, Meghan, and Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, were leaving the annual Women of Vision Awards ceremony, photographers reportedly chased them all the way to a police station, where they attempted to flee from the paparazzi. "This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers," their spokesperson said in a statement provided to NBC News.

New York City law enforcement had a different recollection of the chase. They claimed it was "a bit chaotic" rather than "near catastrophic," as Harry and Meghan's spokesperson alleged. Additionally, cab driver Sukhcharn Singh claimed that he didn't observe aggressive behavior from photographers. "A security guard hailed me, next thing you know Prince Harry and his wife were hopping into my cab," the driver recounted his experience to the BBC. "As we went a block, we got blocked by a garbage truck and all of a sudden paparazzi came and started taking pictures. They were just about to give me the location of where they were going to go, but then they told me to circle back to the precinct." Chris Sanchez, a member of the royal couple's security team, however, said, "The public were in jeopardy at several points." He went on to reveal that the accident could have very well proved deadly.