THE hero boxer who tackled Princess Anne’s kidnapper had his mortgage paid off by Queen as a thank you.
Ronnie Russell, 72, bravely punched Ian Ball twice in the head as the masked assailant held the Queen’s daughter up at gunpoint outside Buckingham Palace.
Ronnie poses with the Queen and Princess Anne
And the former heavyweight boxer was recognised for his bravery – awarded the George Medal after the terrifying scenes unfolded in March 1974.
He even received a personal thanks from the monarch herself, who told him: “The medal is from the Queen, but I want to thank you as Anne’s mother.”
It has now emerged Her Majesty also paid off the have-ago-hero’s mortgage as a mark of her gratitude.
Ronnie told how the Queen lent him a hand during serious money troubles by paying off his house.
But he has now been forced to sell his medal as he is again facing mounting bills due to his ailing health.
Ronnie recalled the moment he discovered the Queen was going to rescue him as he stood on the brink of losing his home.
He told The Mirror: 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 that was wonderful. 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, who now lives in Bristol, told how he planned on never selling his prized honour.
He said: “It was something I said I would never, ever do. I am so proud and honoured to have done such a thing and be involved in it that I would never, ever sell it.
“I have always believed from that day on that the life of a member of the royal family was more valid and important that mine.
“I still considered it was well worth my while getting shot as opposed to Princess Anne.
“What I would like is whoever does eventually buy the medal, I would hope they might invite me somewhere to tell them an after-dinner story about what happened on the night.”
The medal – which will be auctioned offat Dix Noonan Webb in central London next month – is expected to sell for between 15,000 and 20,000.
Princess Anne was just 24-years-old when she was almost abducted in 1974.
The princess was in chauffeur-driven limo – with her then-husband Captain Phillips – driving down the Mall to the palace, when a car swerved in front of them.
An armed and masked man, Ian Ball, shot at Anne’s car as royal police protection officer James Beaton and driver Alex Callender got out of the car to return fire.
During the attack Jamess weapon jammed and Ball shot him three times.
Alex was also shot in an attempt to disarm Ball, along with journalist Brian McConnell who tried to intervene.
‘I PUNCHED HIM’
The attacker then got in Anne’s limo and told her to get out – but the Queens only daughtergave a ballsy response.
She replied: “Not bloody likely”.
Eventually, Anne did actually get out, with Ian following close behind.
However, he was then punched by passerby Mr Russell, and police were able to arrest him.
Ball had planned to abduct the princess and demand 2m ransom from the Queen, but ended up being sentenced to life in prison and detained in a mental hospital.
Recounting the attempted abduction, Mr Russell said: “It was very fast moving but it is as clear to me now as it was the day it happened.
“I punched him twice. The first time was when I got out of my vehicle and I thought it was a road rage incident.
“He shot PC Hills and I went to hit him around the back of the head, and he turned and shot at me and it went through the windscreen of a taxi.”
And he praised Princess Anne for her bravery.
He said: “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 – if he had been a tree he would have fallen over – and he was flat on the floor face down.
“PC Edmonds then dived on top of him and he was arrested.”
Auctioneer Oliver Pepys, from Dix Noonan Webb, said: “We have sold several George Medals in the past but most have been linked to the Blitz and bomb disposal in the Second World War, so to be offering this peacetime medal, with such a cracking story, is a huge honour.
“A wide variety of gallantry medals were given to the ‘Magnificent Seven’ after the event but to my knowledge this is the first to come to auction.”
It is expected to be sold with other items including a telegram from Princess Anne and a letter from the Met Commissioner.