George Medal for saving Princess Anne sells for £50k

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George MedalImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
The medal sold at auction for £50,000

A medal awarded to a boxer who helped save the Princess Royal from an attempted armed kidnap has sold at auction for £50,000.

Former heavyweight Ronnie Russell, 72, punched Ian Ball in the head as he tried to abduct the princess at gunpoint in London in 1974.

Mr Russell said he reluctantly sold the George Medal as he had been "very unwell for quite some time".

"I want to know that I've done enough to pay for my own funeral," he said.

After the auction, Mr Russell, who lives in Bristol, said: "For something I thought that I would never sell, I never believed it would sell for this amount, I am absolutely blown away."

He said he had one request for the UK buyer, who asked to remain anonymous, which was for them to meet in person to tell the story of what happened.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Ronnie Russell was awarded the George Medal for bravery by the Queen
Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Princess Anne's car had been blocked and Ian Ball had fired shots, wounding four people

Mr Russell was heading home to his wife and children in Strood, Kent, when he thwarted the late-night ambush on 20 March 1974.

Ball had blocked the princess's car on The Mall in central London and had fired shots, wounding four people.

Mr Russell said Ball was trying to drag Princess Anne from her car while her then husband, Captain Mark Phillips, was pulling her back.

"She was very, very together, telling him: 'Just go away and don't be such a silly man'," he said.

"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.

"I said to Princess Anne: 'We're going to walk away and he's going to have to go through me to get you'."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The aftermath of Ian Ball's attempt to kidnap Princess Anne
Image source, Ronnie Russell
Image caption,
Princess Anne sent Mr Russell a telegram when he received the medal

Ball was later sent to a psychiatric hospital by an Old Bailey judge.

Mr Russell was awarded the George Medal for bravery by the Queen, who told him: "The medal is from the Queen, but I want to thank you as Anne's mother."

It was sold along with a letter from 10 Downing Street informing Mr Russell of the award and a telegram from Princess Anne.