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How does Princess Anne fit into the Royal Family?

Known for her no-nonsense approach and prodigious work rate, what is the role of Queen Elizabeth’s daughter within the Royal Family?

Tough character

The resilience of Princess Anne has been evident throughout her life. From a young age, Anne was a highly accomplished horse rider and she went on to triumph at several major competitions. However, it was during her ultimately unsuccessful appearance at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal where her toughness was most apparent. Anne suffered a concussion after falling from her horse halfway through the course, but still managed to complete the round. She later remarked that she had no memory of the remaining jumps following the fall.

She displayed a similar attitude when she was the target of a dramatic kidnapping attempt in 1974. After her car was forced to stop by a Ford Escort, its driver, Ian Ball, jumped out and began firing. Ordering Anne to get out of the car, legend has it that she replied : “not bloody likely.”

Relationship with the Queen

As the Queen’s only daughter, Princess Anne’s relationship with her mother is thought to be a close one. On more than one occasion she has publicly defended her against accusations that the Queen wasn’t nurturing enough during her children’s upbringing. Anne has regularly joined the Queen on royal engagements and their shared love of horses must provide much common ground.

Their relationship has not been entirely serene, however, with the Queen reportedly disapproving of Anne’s divorce from her first husband, Captain Mark Philips. 

Princess Anne and royal protocol

Princess Anne’s approach to the etiquette surrounding the Royal Family is a contradictory one. Equal parts traditionalist and rule-breaker, it is perhaps as a result of her nuanced character and willingness to speak her mind. Highlighting the absurdity of such rules, it was pointed out that during a TV interview early this year, she sat with her legs crossed as opposed to adopting the “duchess slant” pose that is considered more modest.

One outdated rule she continues to follow is that she never shakes the hands of members of the public. Before the 1970’s, this was common royal practice until the Queen adopted a more relaxed approach when greeting people. Princess Anne’s reasoning is that if she can’t shake everybody’s hand, she won’t shake anyone’s.


Aside from her many successes in her equestrian career, Princess Anne has racked up a staggering number of royal engagements and patronages. She is probably best known for her work as president of Save the Children which even earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 1990. Her keen interest in young people’s care and development is also evident in her work with the Royal National Children’s Foundation and WISE, an organisation that encourages young women to pursue careers in science. She is also a British representative in the International Olympic Committee and played an integral part in the planning of the London 2012 games. Far from slowing down, Princess Anne topped the list of hardest working members of the Royal Family in 2020.

Red Note: 30 September 2022

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