If you ask people to name their favourite member of the British Royal Family, it is unlikely many – if any – will say The Princess Royal. However, in my opinion, Princess Anne is the most underrated member of the family and deserves our attention.
Anne is The Queen and Prince Philip’s only daughter, and the seventh person to hold the title of ‘The Princess Royal’ since 1642. Now aged 68, Princess Anne is known for being no-nonsense, thrifty and generally a bad-ass. Case in point: in 1974, she was the subject of a kidnapping attempt. Instead of being bothered by the gun-toting assailant, when the 23-year old Princess was ordered to get out of the car, she retorted: “Not bloody likely!”. Pictured below is the aftermath of the foiled kidnapping attempt.
In terms of her personal life, Princess Anne has been married twice; with her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, she shares two children, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall. In 1992, Anne married Timothy Lawrence and the couple are still together today. Neither Peter nor Zara have royal titles; it is thought that The Princess Royal wanted them to have as normal a life as possible, and as such neither undertake royal duties.
While many know Zara for her equestrian skills – she is a silver-medal winning Olympian – Anne is also a successful horsewoman. Princess Anne was voted as British Sports Personality of the Year in 1971, an award the Royals usually present, rather than receive. Like her daughter, Anne is also an Olympian, having participated in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. Today, Anne is still regularly seen attending and hosting equestrian-related events.
With regard to royal duties, although her children are not full-time royals, Anne has more than made up for her family’s share of engagements. Year on year, Anne is one of the family members who undertakes the most engagements, alongside her elder brother, The Prince of Wales, although she frequently beats even Charles to the top spot. This is incredible when you consider that at 68 and 70 respectively, Anne and Charles are both over the UK retirement age.
In fact, in 2018 Princess Anne was the busiest royal with 180 days of work during the year, encompassing 518 engagements; when you consider that Prince William totalled 120 days while his younger brother, Harry, had just 90 days, this becomes even more impressive. In 2017, The Princess Royal was also the hardest working royal, with 455 official appearances, and another 85 engagements overseas.
In addition to the sheer number of engagements, The Queen’s daughter is also one of the Royals who travels extensively for her duties. In any given week, it is likely Princess Anne will be outside of London – or even England – on royal engagements, which is much appreciated throughout the UK.
When writing up the weekly royal diary for The Crown Chronicles, I’m often struck by how many visits, inaugurations, award ceremonies, lunches or dinners Anne packs into a single day. While most Royals undertake one or two engagements per day – although admittedly they will have more if they are travelling – it is common for The Princess Royal to have up to five or six, meaning that not only does she have more ‘working days’ than everyone else, she also packs more engagements into each day.
We here at The Crown Chronicles have tried again and again to cover Anne’s events, as we all have the utmost respect for her; however, The Princess Royal is largely ignored by the mainstream media. It may be that the older Royals do not attract the same attention as their younger, more glamorous, counterparts; however, that does not mean that Anne’s work should not be covered. Indeed, Princess Anne began her royal duties in 1969 at the age of 18 and has barely stopped to take a breath since!
During her active years, The Princess Royal has supported a wide variety of worthy causes; she is currently involved with over 300 charities, organisations and military regiments throughout the world. Anne makes many overseas trips on an annual basis representing both her mother and the United Kingdom on the international stage. As well as international trips related to her own patronages or charities, Princess Anne generally makes three overseas trips per year at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In addition, she is one of the few Royals who participate in investiture ceremonies on behalf of The Queen (Prince Charles and his eldest son William also undertake this duty) and also attends Garden Parties with other members of the Royal Family.
Save the Children was one of the first charities on her radar; she has been President of the organisation since 1970. Her work with Save the Children has seen Anne visit many countries, including China, the Philippines, Cambodia and Madagascar.
Thanks to her own experience, Princess Anne is also one of the top figures who represents Great Britain at the Olympic Games – she is a member of the International Olympic Committee and was involved in London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Games. Last year, Anne even travelled to Pyeongchang for the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games.
Many of the organisations with which Anne is involved are related to animal welfare (particularly horses), including the Animal Health Trust and the British Equine Veterinary Association. By supporting causes related to her passions, such as the armed forces, veterans, equestrian activities or animals, Princess Anne is truly dedicated to her duties with these organisations.
Anne has also participated in some extremely important royal events; although too young to attend The Queen’s coronation in 1953, she did join her mother, father and brother on the balcony for the flypast. The Princess Royal was also the first member of the British Royal Family to officially visit the USSR at the invitation of the Soviet government under then-leader Gorbachev; Anne was there for two-weeks in a tour which saw her visit Kiev, Moscow, Volgograd and Turkmenia.
On a personal level, Princess Anne was the first major Royal to re-marry since Victoria, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine (granddaughter of Queen Victoria) did so in 1905. The Queen’s daughter married Commander (now Vice-Admiral) Sir Timothy Laurence in 1992; he served as equerry to The Queen from 1986 to 1989.
While she became second-in-line when her mother ascended to the throne in 1952, Princess Anne is currently 13th in line, although she will soon drop to 14th once Baby Sussex is born. Anne is placed behind her three brothers, their children and grandchildren in the line of succession as male issue still took precedence over female siblings when she was born. This law, however, was overturned ahead of Prince George’s birth to ensure female royals born after that date now hold their place in the line of succession; as such, Princess Charlotte is 4th in line ahead of her younger brother, Louis.
Despite being in such a ‘minor’ position, Princess Anne has supported her mother for half a century on royal duties and shows no sign of slowing down. In my opinion, The Princess Royal is an upstanding example of what a Royal should be: someone who works tirelessly in their efforts for the Crown, does not demand media attention or fame, instead just working silently in the background to keep the cogs turning.
As royal babies have come along and Anne has dropped further and further down the succession, she has never once used this as an excuse to reduce her workload; instead, she has increased the number of duties she undertakes to support her ageing parents.
Additionally, while the younger royal women come under increasing criticism for the price of their clothing, Princess Anne is the ultimate influencer when it comes to thrifty fashion. Last year, The Princess Royal attended the Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey wearing a cream and navy coat that she wore all the way back in 1985. Likewise, in 2015, her outfit for Royal Ascot had previously been seen on the Buckingham Palace balcony in 1980.
Famous for her practical clothing, one of my favourite Anne moments involved her being given a parka during a visit to a London textiles factory – The Queen’s daughter gamely tried on her new coat, appearing to be delighted with her gift!
Known for her sharp tongue, I see a strong resemblance between Princess Anne and her father, The Duke of Edinburgh: she’s probably more like Philip than any of her brothers. I’m not sure any member of the younger generation shares Anne’s attitude, that mixture of ferocity and strength that allows for a no-nonsense approach to royal duties. She’s the sort of person that you would never openly worship; I imagine if you told her that it was an honour to meet her, she’d scoff, ask you why or make some sort of flippant remark. Both terrifying and awe-inspiring in equal measure, we at TCC would love Princess Anne to be given the respect she so deserves.
We would love to know what you think of Princess Anne and the contribution she has made to the Royal Family – have your say in the comments!