Forgotten footage shows Prince Charles’ remarkable reaction to ‘assassination attempt’


Prince Charles: Shots fired during 1994 Australia visit

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall will attend the Royal Cornwall Show on Friday. The popular event has returned after two years of absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of people attending the opening day on Thursday. Charles and Camilla will visit organisations that support the rural community and while the Prince of Wales visits the Duchy of Cornwall exhibition, the Duchess of Cornwall will attend the Dog Show and Flower Show. 

The prince first visited the show in 1970 and was last at the event in 2018, and has been Royal Patron of the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association, the charity that organises the Royal Cornwall Show, since 2002. 

Charles will also present the 2021 and 2022 winners of his own award, The Duke of Cornwall’s Award for Farm Diversity.

Presenting awards is a standard practice in the realm of all things royal, and the events tend to get lost in the packed history of the Royal Family. 

Even a previous suspected assassiantion attempt on the Prince of Wales is often forgotten, and unearthed footage shows Charles’ remarkable reaction to the dramatic incident. 

Prince Charles on stage in Australia 1994

Charles was the target of an ‘assassination attempt’ in 1994. (Image: ABC)

Prince Charles in Australia in 1994

The prince looked unfazed by the dramatic incident. (Image: Getty Images)

In 1994, during a Royal Tour of Australia, the prince was handing out awards when he was targeted by David Kang, a 23-year-old Cambodian university student, who fired two blank shots at the royal. 

Footage of the incident shows the then 48-year-old prince on a stage in Sydney stepping forward to give out awards as two gunshots are heard a few seconds apart. 

Seemingly unfazed, the heir to the throne merely turned his head in the direction of the noise and appeared to adjust his shirt cuffs. 

Charles was then pushed out of the way by a bodyguard as the gunman launched himself onto the stage; other security staff tackled Kang to the ground before escorting him out of the way. 

Assassination attempt

David Kang fired blank shots at the prince before launching himself onto the stage. (Image: Getty Images)

Later, in court, Kang said he was trying to highlight the plight of the Cambodian boat people. 

At the time, more than 100 boat people were detained in camps in Australia, sometimes for years, while they waited for refugee status to be granted.

He had reportedly written hundreds of letters about the boat people to newspapers, church-people and world figures, including former US President Bill Clinton.

Kang even wrote a letter to Charles to which the royal’s private secretary had replied.


David Kang

The then-student wanted to attract attention to the plight of Cambodian boat people. (Image: PA)

During the court case at Sydney’s central magistrate’s court, the prosecutor said: “In one letter, he indicated it was a cause he was prepared to die.”

Kang was found guilty of threatening unlawful violence and sentenced to 500 hours community service.

Paul Keating, former Australian prime minister, said he was “embarrassed” by the scare, but said it was not an assassination attempt.

In a television interview at the time, he said: “I think we must reflect upon this. We are all embarrassed when any good friend of Australia, any person such as this, is affronted in this way.

Kang taken away by security

Kang was arrested in Sydney after he fired shots at the prince. (Image: Getty Images)

“Prince Charles is a good friend of this country and he should be treated with the respect and dignity that a good friend deserves.

“His control in the circumstances, I think, reflected the professional attitude that he has…the important thing to record about this is that it was not an assassination attempt. It was a political demonstration.”

In 2005, when Charles was planning another trip to Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald contacted Kang and found out he was a qualified barrister.

Speaking to the publication back then, he said: “What happened 11 years ago was an extremely traumatic experience and I have certainly moved on in my life and now I have become a barrister here in Sydney.

Kang's letter to the Prince of Wales.

Kang’s letter to the Prince of Wales. (Image: Getty Images)

Charles' Private Secretary's response to Kang.

Charles’ Private Secretary’s response to Kang. (Image: Getty Images)

“To think about it even now unsettles me a little bit… what happened back then was extremely traumatic and the effect it had on my family was deeply upsetting.”

Kang went on to describe his shock at not being gunned down himself, stating: “Everything turned funny, turned quiet. I slipped the starting pistol out and stood up. I had to jump the picket fence.

“I heard a bang, then another bang… I’d shot the gun into the air, I didn’t aim at anything. I thought I’d dropped the gun before I hit the stage, but it was still in my hand.

“I didn’t trip on the stage, I deliberately fell, because I didn’t have any intention to hurt anyone.

“I could hardly believe that I’d reached the stage, and when I slid across, nothing had happened to me, nobody had touched me.”


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