Former heavyweight boxer Ronnie Russell revealed that Queen Elizabeth II paid off his mortgage as a way to thank him for saving Princess Anne from an attempted kidnapping in 1974.
Russell, 72, was 28 years old on the day he thwarted Ian Ball’s attempt to kidnap Princess Anne in central London.
Russell, who took a bullet for the princess before punching Ball to the ground, told the Daily Mail he can still remember the event vividly.
For his bravery, the queen awarded Russell a George Medal, which he said he is reluctantly selling in light of his poor health and to provide for his future.
“The medal is from the queen, but I want to thank you as Anne’s mother,” Russell recalled Elizabeth telling him.
Russell revealed he recently had sepsis and wants the money from the George Medal to help pay for his future needs, including funeral preparations.
“It was something I said I would never, ever do,” he said of selling the sentimental item.
George Medal for saving Princess Anne from kidnap up for sale https://t.co/pGnDogbQMu
— BBC West Live (@BBCBristol) February 6, 2020
“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,” Russell said.
Russell told the Daily Mail the queen also paid for his mortgage as a way to thank him for his heroism.
He recalled police visiting his home before the medal ceremony and asking him if he had a mortgage.
‘They said, ‘We are telling you this a bit early, but the queen is going to pay off your mortgage as a gift for what you have done,'” Russell recalled.
The timing, Russell said, could not have been better.
“I thought that was wonderful. I was actually close to repossession at the time. So I dug myself out of that one,” he said.
The George Medal, set to be auctioned next month, is expected to sell for $20,000 to $25,000.
Auctioneer Oliver Pepys said previous George Medals have been auctioned, but they typically have a story centering around World War II. Russell’s medal holds a special historical and meaningful significance to the history of the royal family.
“To be offering this peacetime medal, with such a cracking story, is a huge honor,” Pepys said.
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