If we were to put Princess Anne in a lineup line-up of royals and ask you to pick her out, her face may elude you. If we were to ask you what her connection is to Queen Elizabeth, you might venture a tentative guess: sister, maybe? But in fact, Princess Anne is the Queen’s only daughter — she just rarely courts attention the way some members of the monarchy do. But now, with her 70th birthday on the horizon (in August), this lesser-known royal is opening up. And the rare interview she just gave makes us wonder why we all aren’t talking about Anne much, much more.
If we’re really being honest, we must admit that Anne seems like — pardon our language, Your Majesty — a total badass. The fact that she has exhibited little interest over the years in playing into the media’s narrative just makes us like her even more. Where we really come to appreciate (read: obsess over) Anne, though, is in the little-known nuggets of truth she dropped in her cover interview for Vanity Fair with royal expert Katie Nicholl.
So, in celebration of our new favorite royal, join us in marveling over the following things we just learned about Anne.
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Presenting May cover star: Princess Anne! The queen’s only daughter, who turns 70 this summer, is busier than ever—just when the royal family needs her. In an interview with V.F., she opens up about her public and private life, the differences between her generation and the younger royals, and a life lived in the Firm. Read the full cover story at the link in bio. 📸: Snowdon /@trunkarchive, 1969.
Her manners are relentless
Relentless may seem like a strong word, until we tell you that they held up even in the midst of a royal kidnapping attempt. In 1974, a man by the name of Ian Ball shot at Anne’s Rolls-Royce as she returned to Buckingham Place from a reception. When the assailant demanded that Anne get out of the car during the tussle, she allegedly deadpanned, “Not bloody likely!” As she remembers it, Anne recalls remaining “scrupulously polite” — until her bespoke dress got torn, which caused her to “lose my rag,” as she phrased it.
Anne’s manners also came into play last year, when it was reported she had joined other world leaders in making fun of American president Donald Trump. “The princess was unhappy to be dragged into that particular story because she has always been careful not to be seen to be political in any way,” a source told Nicholl, adding, “She is also incredibly respectful, so any suggestion that she would laugh at anyone behind their backs was quite upsetting for her.”
She has a criminal history
Okay, admittedly, this isn’t as salacious as it sounds. She’s always harbored a reputation for being a bit of a royal rebel, and that peaked in 2002 when she pleaded guilty to being in charge of an out-of-control dog in a public area. Her English bull terrier Dotty had attacked two children in a park. She was also at one point banned from driving for a month because she kept getting pulled over for speeding.
She’s too busy for tea (or much else)
At the start of the interview, Anne opts out of a luncheon despite already having logged a super-busy morning. “I think during the day, eating’s not really an issue,” she said. And according to one aide, she “never stops” for refreshments until her schedule is finished.
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Princess Anne has a reputation for having inherited her father’s famously sharp tongue and waspish wit. During a kidnapping attempt in 1974, a man commanded the princess to get out of her car. Her response, as legend has it? “Not bloody likely.” In a new interview with V.F., the Princess Royal, who is as salty and spirited as ever, reflects on her incredible lifetime in the spotlight.
She wanted to be a professional equestrian
Not only did Anne have her sights set on a life outside of the monarchy, but she also knew what she wanted to do. “I thought if I was going to do anything outside of the royal family, horses was likely to be the best way of doing it. But then you have to find the right horse at the right time. The original horse I rode was bred as a polo pony and should never have been an event horse, but it worked, so that was very satisfying. But I always knew it was going to be limited time,” she admitted.
She did go on to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1971, and she continues to ride for pleasure to this day.
And also an engineer
Further proof of her pioneering spirit, Anne also considered leaving the royal family to become an engineer. In the absence of that option, she has worked support for girls and women in STEM into her royal outreach. “The practicalities of how things work, I think, was always interesting as far as I was concerned. But I think it was a little bit early in the sort of scheme of things to have gone down that route,” she said. “I’ve certainly enjoyed being part of trying to encourage more girls to look at engineering as a realistic career.”
Screentime isn’t her thing
With four granddaughters she adores, Anne understands a thing or two about kids these days and their need for technology. However, that doesn’t mean she personally believes being hyper-connected is a good thing. “I find it very difficult to understand why anybody gets sucked into screens and devices. Life’s too short, frankly. There’s more entertaining things to be done,” she said, adding “I suppose that puts me in the real dinosaur range,” she told Nicholl.
Prince Harry seems to follow in her footsteps
Just as Prince Harry and Meghan decided to forego titles for baby Archie, so did Anne for her children Peter and Zara. “I think it was probably easier for them, and I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles,” she explained.
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Princess Anne broke with royal tradition by choosing not to give her children Zara and Peter HRH titles when they were born, a peerage she would have been offered from the queen. “I think it was probably easier for them," she tells V.F. "And I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles.” At the link in bio, the Princess Royal discusses her public and private life, the differences between her generation and the younger royals, and a life lived in the Firm.
She’s a bit of a workaholic
At almost 70, Anne works with some 300-plus charities. She carried out more than 500 engagements last year. She cites her parents as inspiration, hinting that she may really ever take a retirement. “I think both my father and my mother have, quite rightly, made decisions about, you know, ‘I can’t spend enough time doing this and we need to find somebody else to do it’ because it makes sense,” she said. “I have to admit they continued being there for a lot longer than I had in mind, but we’ll see.”
She has advice for the next generation of royals
Describing herself as the “boring old fuddy-duddy at the back saying, ‘Don’t forget the basics,’ Anne offers the younger generation of royals a few pears of wisdom.
She elaborated, “”I don’t think this younger generation probably understands what I was doing in the past and it’s often true, isn’t it? You don’t necessarily look at the previous generation and say, ‘Oh, you did that?’ Or, ‘You went there?’ Nowadays, they’re much more looking for, ‘Oh let’s do it a new way.’ And I’m already at the stage, ‘Please do not reinvent that particular wheel. We’ve been there, done that. Some of these things don’t work. You may need to go back to basics.”
Before you go, check out the 100 best photos of the royal family from the past 20 years.