There are many lessons the younger royals can learn from Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter.
Princess Anne turns 71 on Sunday – and she will celebrate in a no-nonsense manner that befits her reputation in Britain.
For years, the princess has been widely admired for her work ethic, sporting pedigree – she competed as an equestrian in the 1976 Olympic Games – as well as her ability to keep her private life out of the spotlight.
Princess Anne is the subject of a new documentary on True Royalty TV. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
During the coronavirus pandemic, Anne kept busy helping out the many charities she’s associated with, such as Save the Children. She was also seen remotely assisting her mother get to grips with online video calls while the queen was isolating at Windsor Castle.
“Princess Anne is a fascinating and beloved character in Britain,” True Royalty TV co-founder and editor-in-chief Nick Bullen told Fox News.
Bullen has been making programs about the royal family for nearly 10 years and has worked closely with Anne’s eldest brother, Prince Charles, for eight.
“She’s probably the hardest-working member of the royal family who takes on the most engagements,” said Bullen. “She’s survived a kidnapping, she participated in the Olympics. She also gained an international fan base thanks to ‘The Crown,’ on Netflix, which has portrayed her as strong-willed but overshadowed by her brothers. Her story is a great one worthy of being told.”
Princess Anne is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II. (Photo by Graham Bezant/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Born on Aug. 15, 1950, at Clarence House, one of the royal family’s London residences, she is the younger sister of Charles, the heir to the throne, and elder sibling to princes Andrew and Edward. She began undertaking public work at age 18. Her first engagement was the opening of an educational and training center in Shropshire in 1969.
While Anne is connected to more than 300 charities, organizations and military regiments and regularly tops the list of royals carrying out the most public engagements, she is probably best known in Britain for her prowess in the saddle.
She — and her horse Doublet — won the European Championship eventing individual gold medal in 1971, an achievement that earned her the admiration of the nation and the coveted BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Sport has played a prominent role in her life ever since. As well as winning a place in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Anne has been a long-standing member of the International Olympic Committee. She also played a central role in London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games and was a member of the organizing committee.
Princess Anne (later the Princess Royal) with the Queen’s horse, Goodwill, at Smith’s Lawn, Windsor, during a break in training with the British Olympic team for the three-day event at the Montreal Olympic Games in Canada. Circa 1976. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Before having children, Anne and her first husband, Army Capt. Mark Phillips, survived an attempted kidnapping in 1974 while she was being driven to Buckingham Palace. When the armed would-be abductor, Ian Ball, told her to “Come with me for a day or two” because he wanted 2 million pounds, the princess replied it was not “bloody likely, and I haven’t got 2 million pounds.”
Anne said she was “furious at this man who was having a tug of war” with her and for ripping her favorite blue velvet dress.
Bullen, who has worked with Anne, said the royal has managed to dedicate her life to service over celebrity – a lesson some of the younger members of the royal family can learn today.
“I’ve been lucky to film Princess Anne a few times and she is absolutely fantastic,” he shared. “I believe she’s learned so much from her parents, particularly from her father. She’s learned that you can be a working royal and support all of your charities and patronages without becoming a celebrity. She’s never been caught in the middle of fame. She’s never cared for celebrity. And I believe that’s what people admire the most about her.”
Princess Anne visiting journalist Brian McConnell at St George’s Hospital in London after he was shot in the chest while attempting to intervene during the attempt to kidnap the Princess in the Mall, March 25, 1974. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
“For Anne, she just has a job to do,” Bullen continued. “The key thing about her is that she’s never thought of herself as someone special. In fact, she’s slightly surprised why people would be interested in her. In her eyes, she’s just a civil servant working for her country, doing what needs to be done for the country. And to her, it’s a job, not star status. And it’s a job she does very well.”
According to Bullen, Anne has managed to dodge the glaring media spotlight because once she’s done with any royal engagements, she retreats back home, away from cameras.
“She goes back to her farm,” said Bullen. “She rides her horses, spends private time with her family. You never see pictures of Anne on the beaches or nightclubs or dare I say, staging birthday messages. She’s not one to court headlines or gain PR around the world. She doesn’t care for that. Once her job is done, she goes back to the privacy of her home, which she prefers.”
Bullen said that viewers will be surprised to learn how “down to earth” Anne really is, despite her royal status.
Princess Anne, Princess Royal, attends the Gatcombe Horse Trials at Gatcombe Park on March 25, 2017 in Stroud, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images)
“We filmed with her on her estate in the country with the other horses,” he recalled. “She’s out in the fields wearing old jeans, an old jacket, a headscarf and not much makeup. You see her walking her dogs across the fields. She’s very straightforward and easy to talk to. She’s the queen’s only daughter, but she’s also just a country woman at heart. That truly surprised me the most.”
“We were interviewing her about the younger members of the royal family and she stressed the importance of learning from their history,” he continued. “She said, ‘As a family, we like evolution, not revolution.’ I thought that was very clever. The younger royals can benefit from listening to her.”
Anne is the mother of two children: Zara and Peter Phillips. Zara, 40, inherited her mother’s horse-riding skills and won a silver medal in London as part of the British team.
But for the birthday girl, it’s business as usual.
Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Anne, Princess Royal, visit the Children’s Wood Project, a community project in Glasgow as part of her traditional trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week on June 30, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. The visit marked the 95-year-old’s first official visit north of the border since the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. (Photo by Andrew Milligan-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The royal family’s official website noted she “has a busy schedule of engagements” supporting her charities. She has been president of Save the Children UK since 1970. She has also been closely involved with the creation of several charities, particularly The Princess Royal’s Trust for Carers (now Carers Trust), Transaid and Riders for Health.
According to the site, “The Carers’ Trust provides support for the millions of individuals in the UK who are responsible for caring for someone. Transaid and Riders for Health both try to overcome some of the difficulties caused by poor transportation links in developing countries.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.