Published: 09:20, 06 February 2020
| Updated: 10:34, 06 February 2020
An ex-heavyweight boxer from Strood who risked his life to save Princess Anne from being kidnapped is reluctantly having to auction his George Medal to pay for medical treatment and his funeral.
Ronnie Russell was awarded the gong and had his mortgage paid off by Queen Elizabeth in 1974 for his act of bravery.
However the 72–year–old is now faced with the possibility of having to flog the medal to pay for his funeral and medical treatment following a series of strokes. It's expected to fetch between £15,000 and £20,000.
The gong will be sold in London by Dix Noonan Webb next month.
He said: "I have always said I would never, ever, ever sell the medal. I was too honoured to receive it to think of it.
"But my medical situation has left me needing to do something about it. I need to make arrangements for when the day comes for a funeral.
"I just hope whoever buys it will invite me to lunch or something, where I could tell the story properly."
Now living in Bristol, Mr Russell was on the brink of loosing his house in Strood before Queen Elizabeth paid off his mortgage from her own private funds, the Daily Mirror reports.
On March 20, 1974 Ian Ball shot four people in an attempt to kidnap The Princess Royal.
Mr Russell saw the commotion after taking a short cut on his way to work.
He added: "I wasn’t frightened. I had no idea who was in the car but I when I saw him shoot the copper I thought, that’s taking the ****, so I went for him.
"I went to hit him around the back of the head and he turned and fired. It went through a taxi windscreen."
He added: "My life has changed so much. I used to be quite powerful in my own way. I could dish out a right hand.
"I had seven strokes in five days then I had sepsis. I've had cancer. I have to go for a drip every 21 days at the hospital.
"I still work - I have to. It's my only source of income but even walking is difficult. I was asked to paint the bathroom recently. I got on the floor and I couldn't get up.
"I've always felt like it would be disrespectful [to sell]. But it's more disrespectful for me not for not to pay for my funeral.
"If I don't I'm leaving if for my partner or my brother. It's been a rough time."
Ronnie was a 28-year-old 6ft 4in 17-stone boxer who trained at the same club as the notorious Kray twins when he stumble upon Princess Anne's attempted kidnapping.
'I got a lot of stick from the press afterwards because I called her Anne!'
Ball blocked in the Princess Anne's car while she was being driven along the Mall in London and fired several shots through the rear window.
Princess Anne and her then husband, Captain Mark Phillips, were unhurt during the incident.
But her personal detective, chauffeur, a police constable and a journalist were all shot by the gunman, who was armed with two revolvers.
Ronnie was walking home from work when he spotted the episode unfold and jumped into action.
He managed to hit Ball twice and avoid getting shot - claiming the second punch was so hard it could have even brought down a tree.
Now a dad-of-three, he said he can still remember the incident as clear as day.
He said: "I was working at the time as the manager of a contract cleaning company. As I turned into the Mall I saw the Royal car - it had a tiny blue light on the roof.
"It was only turned on when there was a member of the Royal family in the car. It wasn't even used for heads of state.
"But then a car pulled out from behind it cut across. I thought it was what we know now as road rage.
"A police car arrived and at that moment I'm about 30 to 40 yards away. I thought: 'It's all over now, the old bill are here'.
"He then shot the man. I thought: 'You can't do that, that's taking the ****!'.
"I went to hit him around the back of the head and he turned around and fired. It went through the windscreen of a taxi."
Ronnie said Ball then tried to pull Princess Anne from her car while her husband grabbed her the other way.
He said: "There was banging and smashing going on. He had Princess Anne by the arm. There was a tug of war.
"She was calm as anything. She said: 'Go away you silly man'.
"I saw that a door was open. I said: 'Come this way Anne, you will be safe. Now he is going to have to go through me to get you'.
"But Mark Phillips dragged her back into the car.
"At that point I thought it was now or never. I hit Ball very, very hard. If he had been a tree he would have fallen over. He was flat on the floor face down.
"Then the police arrived and I was taken off to be questioned.
"I got a lot of stick from the press afterwards because I called her Anne!
"But when my medal was announced she sent a message and signed it off just 'Anne'."
Ronnie was later presented with The George Medal at Buckingham Palace by the Queen.
He added: "She leaned forward and said: 'This medal thanks you as the Queen - I want to thank you as Anne's mother.
"I still believe a member of the Royal Family's life has more value than mine."
Ronnie now lives in Bristol with his partner Mandy Dalton.
He worked numerous jobs following the kidnap attempt including as a security guard and a landlord. He now works at a speedway track in Swindon.