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Ronnie Russell

Ronnie Russell

News Archive Imagery

News Archive Imagery

A ‘Thank You’ from Area Manager Ronnie Russell

Wednesday 1 July, 2020

Ronnie, 72, punched Ian Ball twice in the head as he tried to kidnap Anne at gunpoint in central London in March 1974. For his bravery, he was awarded the George Medal by the Queen, who told him:“The medal is from the Queen, but I want to thank you as Anne’s mother.”

Ronnie has treasured the medal ever since but had to put it up for auction to pay for his funeral costs after suffering from ill-health. Gary Evans saw the article in the paper and raised it at an Exclusive Board Meeting. We decided to try and bid for the medal with a clear plan to return it to the family if successful. Understandably as a private SME, we had a budget that we could go to that was quickly overtaken by collectors at the auction house Dix Noonan Webb in London where the medal, which had been expected to fetch up to £20,000, sold for £50,000 to a private collector in the UK.

As reported in the national press, Ronnie was an area manager for Exclusive at the time of the kidnap attempt. He had been working in Princess Square on Pall Mall on the evening of 20 March 1974 and was returning home to Strood, Kent, at about 8pm.

Ball had blocked the princess’s car with his own as it drove along the Mall towards Buckingham Palace, and fired a series of shots through the rear window. Ronnie, who is 6ft 2in and weighed 17 stone, at first thought it was a road-rage incident but bravely rushed to Anne’s assistance when he realised what was happening. He later recalled how the princess told Ball: “Just go away and don’t be such a silly man,” as he tried to drag her from the car.

“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,” Russell said.

Anne and her then husband, Captain Mark Phillips, were unhurt during the ambush, but the princess’s personal detective, chauffeur, a police constable and a journalist were all shot by Ball, who was armed with two revolvers.

To a man within the company we felt that, given his service to the company, his current health concerns and obviously his bravery as the reason for the award of the medal, we should try and assist as we had not been able to win the auction. We therefore decided to award Ronnie an ex-gratia 4-figure award as a gift to help him and his family.

However, the proud man that he is, he would not accept it without doing something in return. Therefore health willing, Ronnie will be at our Xmas function to talk to our team and no doubt enthral us with his story and many others.

We should be proud of Ronnie and his letter is attached which sums up the relationship.

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