The Queen took steps to show her personal gratitude to the man who saved Princess Anne from a kidnap attempt in 1974. Former heavyweight boxer Ronnie Russell, who is now 72, stopped Ian Ball as he tried to take the Princess at gunpoint – and he has now revealed the grateful monarch's gesture of thanks. Ronnie recalled to the Mirror how the police visited him at his home following the incident. "They were looking round my home and saying, 'Oh this is a nice house'. They asked if I had a mortgage and I said, 'Yes, yes. Why?' They said, 'Well we are really telling you this a bit early, but the Queen is going to pay off your mortgage as a gift for what you have done.' I thought it was wonderful," Ronnie explained. "I was actually close to repossession at the time. They were going to repossess my home. So I dug myself out of that one!"
Ronnie Russell helped thwart a kidnap attempt on Princess Anne in 1974
Ronnie was driving home to Kent at the time of the late-night incident. Ian Ball had blocked Princess Anne's car on The Mall in central London, and had fired shots, injuring four people. "It was moving very fast," he said, recalling seeing the kidnapper trying to pull Anne from her car, while her then-husband Captain Mark Phillips was pulling her back. Of the Princess, he added: "She was very, very together, telling him, 'Just go away and don't be such a silly man.' He stood there glaring at me with the gun and I hit him. I hit him as hard as I could, and he was flat on the floor face down."
MORE: The Queen's secret show of support for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Ronnie (far right) with the Queen and Princess Anne
Ronnie was also awarded the George Medal for bravery by the monarch, who touchingly told him: "The medal is from the Queen, but I want to thank you as Anne's mother." Sadly, he is now selling the medal due to his ill health and to provide for his future. It is expected to raise between £15,000 and £20,000 at auction next month. "It was something I said I would never, ever do," he said. "What I would like is whoever does eventually buy the medal, I would hope they might invite me somewhere to tell them about what happened on the night."
MORE: The very touching way Princess Margaret used to describe her sister the Queen
The Queen at 93: Her life in pictures
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.