Royals such as Prince William, Prince Harry and the Queen make a lot of public appearances. But despite all three being extremely visible, none of them qualifies as being the hardest-working royal. According to an article published by The Daily Telegraph in 2018, that honor actually goes to Princess Anne, daughter of the Queen. So, how does the 68-year-old royal do it?
Princess Anne, also known as the Princess Royal, is the second child of the Queen and the younger sister of Prince Charles. She was born before her mother took the crown of Britain, in 1950, and is presently 13th in the line of succession to the British throne. Moreover, even for a hard-working member of the royal family, she’s led a very interesting life indeed.
The young Anne was blessed with a wide range of experiences as a child. Her father Prince Philip passed on to her his love of the great outdoors, for instance, and the Girl Guides taught her to socialize with other children. Moreover, Anne apparently knew how to ride a boat before she turned ten. And by the time she was a teenager, she was already a working royal.
But Anne’s first love and passion was for horses. According to Tatler, even her own father once reportedly said of her, “If it doesn’t fart or eat hay, she’s not interested.” Nonetheless, Anne most certainly maintained a social life. She was once romantically linked with military officer Gerald Ward, for example, who’s now a godfather to Prince Harry.
Anne was also involved in what would later become a right royal scandal. According to biographer Penny Juror, Anne once formed part of a love triangle with Andrew Parker-Bowles and Camilla Shand, the woman who would later become Duchess of Cornwall. Anne was the “other woman” in their relationship, it was claimed.
“I have read this before and it wouldn’t surprise me. Anne and Andrew Parker Bowles were very close – and they still are,” another royal biographer, Phil Dampier, informed the International Business Times in 2017. “You see them together at Royal Ascot every year, and they are best friends. He was her first love, and their bond goes very deep.”
In the end, Princess Anne met her future husband Mark Phillips, an army lieutenant, at – where else – a gathering of horse lovers. On 14 November 1973 she married him at a Westminster Abbey ceremony watched by millions of people. The wedding cake featured a decoration of a woman jockey riding a horse.
It was while Anne was still married to Phillips that one of the most dramatic events in her life took place. She was the victim of an attempted kidnapping by a member of the public, in fact. In March 1974 a man called Ian Ball halted the princess’ car with his own vehicle and shot her bodyguard James Beaton.
Ball then started rocking the car in an effort to get the occupants to come out. Philips held the door shut, but Ball fired into the vehicle. Beaton stopped two bullets with his own body, and the royal chauffeur was also shot as he exited the car. Next, Ball tried to reach inside and grab Anne, with her husband clinging on to her.
Anne tried to verbally fight off her attacker. As he attempted to persuade her to come with him, she responded “Bloody likely!” Eventually, the police came, but the situation remained dangerous, as Ball was still armed. The first officer on the scene was Police Constable Michael Hills, who suffered a gunshot wound.
Some members of the public then tried to intervene by distracting Ball. And this was a tactic that worked. Former boxer Ronald Russell hit Ball in the head, which gave Anne the chance to push herself out of the car. As Ball ran around to grab her, she flung herself back into the vehicle, giving Russell the chance to hit the assailant again.
After that second punch, Ball began running away. Another policeman, Peter Edmonds, chased after the attacker and was able to capture Ball following a brief scuffle. There was more than £300 in the man’s pockets, it transpired. And in the aftermath of the incident, it seemed that Ball’s main motivation had been money.
Political groups even tried to take advantage of the situation by claiming the kidnapping attempt was their doing, but in the end Scotland Yard ruled that Ball had acted alone. In his car were found handcuffs, some tranquilizers – and a letter to the Queen demanding £2 million in exchange for the release of her daughter.
It was a near miss, perhaps, but thankfully there was no loss of life during the incident. Everyone who had been shot went on to survive, and they all subsequently received medals from the Queen. Ron Russell, who received the George Medal, told the Eastern Daily Press in 2006 what the Queen said to him during his award ceremony: “The medal is from the Queen of England, the thank you is from Anne’s mother.”
As for Ball, he entered a guilty plea to charges of kidnapping and attempted murder. He claimed on the stand that he’d tried to kidnap the princess in order to put the spotlight on the treatment of mental health issues in Britain. Rather than being sent to jail, though, Ball was placed in the high-security hospital at Broadmoor in England, where he reportedly remains to this day.
That sort of event would shock most people to the core. But not, apparently, Princess Anne. She actually returned to her duties the following day, in fact. A statement was also put out by Buckingham Palace announcing that the royals “had no intention of living in bullet-proof cages.”
Anne had been a high-profile royal even before the kidnap attempt, and the incident only increased her fame. Next up for the princess was a marriage scandal. The relationship between her and Phillips had soured by all accounts. Indeed, gossip magazines reported in 1989 that some “intimate” messages had been sent to Anne by royal official Timothy Laurence.
Tabloid newspaper The Sun was the first publication to get its hands on the letters. Knowing that the items had been stolen and that the newspaper therefore couldn’t print them, it passed the letters on to the police. “Palace Thief Steals Anne’s Letters… Sun To The Rescue” was its headline at the time – but the damage had already been done.
The Palace quickly released a statement. “The stolen letters were addressed to the Princess Royal by Commander Timothy Laurence, the Queen’s Equerry,” it read. “We have nothing to say about the contents of personal letters sent to Her Royal Highness by a friend which were stolen and which are the subject of a police investigation.”
That statement only served to send the media coverage into overdrive. Everything suddenly became very complicated, especially since Anne’s children Peter and Zara were still very young. Anne was had apparently visited Laurence with them in tow, in fact. According to a source who spoke to People in 1989, Laurence cared for Anne “in the way her husband does not.”
People also speculated that perhaps there was more to Anne’s packed royal timetable than met the eye. “Kitchen-table wisdom in Britain concluded that the princess was using work to ease the pain of her marriage,” the article claimed. Whether or not this was true, Anne and her husband divorced in the early 1990s.
That same year, Anne wed Laurence in a private ceremony. It was a complicated matter, as back then the Church of England – the organization of which Anne’s mother the Queen is the official head – didn’t permit divorced people to marry again while their ex-spouse was still alive. As a result, Anne instead married her second husband in Scotland, which had no such rule.
In the years that followed, of course, the royal family expanded. Prince William, Anne’s nephew, married Kate Middleton in 2011. Anne was present at the wedding, as were the vast majority of the royal family. Not long after that, William and Kate began having children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
With more royals around, duties could be more easily divided up between them. And there’s plenty of work to go around. Royal engagements include charitable commitments, the presentation of honorable awards, state banquets and diplomatic events. In all, the royal family are thought to carry out at least 2,000 engagements between them every year.
And Princess Anne is reportedly the hardest-working of all the adult royals. In 2017 The Daily Telegraph revealed that Anne had racked up a colossal amount of working hours in that year with more than 450 appearances and 85 engagements in other countries. The following year, the Telegraph conducted the same analysis, and Anne came out first again.
In 2018 the Telegraph stated that Anne had worked 180 days over the past year, more than any other royal. The next-highest totals were Prince Edward at 170 days and Prince Charles with 160. Two of the newer members of the royal family, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, haven’t done many at all. But there are excellent reasons for that – pregnancy, for example.
Anne is reportedly a rather competitive and stubborn character, in fact. When she competed with her horse at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, she suffered a fall and endured a concussion as a result. Yet she clambered back on, despite knowing she had lost the event. She also insists on being treated in the same way as male royals, right down to her choice of military uniforms.
Indeed, Anne’s no-nonsense approach certainly extends into fashion as well. While royals such as Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have become style icons, Anne is more frugal about what she wears. For example, in March 2018 she was spotted wearing a coat that she’d been photographed in back in the 1980s.
Intriguingly, Anne is also the only British royal to have been found guilty of a criminal act. In 2002 a dog of Anne’s, three-year-old Dotty, attacked two kids in a park. Anne was given a fine, and a dog psychologist pleaded Dotty’s case. As a result, the animal wasn’t put down, although Dotty would have to wear a lead whenever going out in the future.
It’s beyond doubt that there have been periods of time when Anne wasn’t very popular. She also famously never got along with Princess Diana. The latter was beloved to a lot of British people, and when the two women were pitted against each other in the public eye, Diana always seemed to come out on top. As is her way, though, Anne determinedly got herself through it.
Anne is now 68 years old, and the public’s perception of her seems to have softened considerably. When she turned 60, for example, the Daily Mail labelled her “the best king we’ve never had.” People have grown to admire her strong work ethic, even though she still tackles public events with the same bluntness she always has done.
In the 2018 documentary Queen of the World, Anne described how she approaches public meetings. “The theory was that you couldn’t shake hands with everybody, so don’t start,” she said. “So I kind of stick with that, but I noticed others don’t. It’s not for me to say that it’s wrong, but the initial concept was that it was patently absurd to start shaking hands.”
Anne never really enjoyed walkabouts, she admitted in the documentary. “Can you imagine as teenagers? It’s hardly the sort of thing you would volunteer to do. I mean, it gets easier, but can you imagine?” Anne stated. “How many people enjoy walking into a room full of people that you’ve never met before?”
These days, selfies and photos have become a common part of the royal experience, but Anne hates that development as well. Reportedly, Anne will tell people pointing their phones at her to put them down if they want to talk to her. “It is weird. People don’t believe they’ve experienced the event unless they’ve taken a photograph,” she said in Queen of the World.
People close to the royals have noticed how determined Anne is to keep working and attending engagements, regardless of how she actually feels about them. “Her credo is: ‘Keep me busy. I’m here to work, I’m here to do good things, I’m here to meet as many people as possible,’” the Canadian secretary to the Queen, Kevin MacLeod, told CBC in 2014.
Anne is in fact an instrumental part of many important charities. For example, from 1970 onwards she has served as the president of Save the Children, a children’s rights organization. The charity’s website states: “The Princess Royal spends a significant amount of time visiting Save the Children’s projects, both overseas and in the UK.”
That’s far from the only important charity work Anne carries out, though. She also founded The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in 1991, which later joined forces with another charity to become the Carer’s Trust. In addition, Anne acts as a patron for Transaid, which builds transportation links in developing nations, and of WISE, a body that strives in increase the number of women who work in scientific fields.
Anne was also part of the committee to bring the Olympic Games to London in 2012, which caused U.K. sports minister Hugh Robertson to single her out for plaudits. “She is one of the great unsung heroes of this whole process,” he said at a ceremony in Athens, according to The Daily Telegraph. “Because she is who she is, she never asks for any thanks or praise, but she has played a remarkable role in this.”
A tendency to work hard seems to be a calling for all the older royals. Prince Philip only retired in May 2017 at the age of 96. And the Queen, who is 92, continues to conduct her royal activities no matter what. According to The Guardian, for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 she gave a speech in which she stated, “I dedicate myself anew to your service.”
Anne seems to look up to her parents when it comes to her work as a royal. In 2010 the BBC asked her if she planned to reduce her workload. “Look at the members of my family who are considerably older than me and tell me whether you think they have set an example which suggests that I might,” she answered.