The Princess Royal was speaking about her association with Save the Children, which she has been President of for 50 years. Anne said she did not know why they asked her to do the role, given that she was a young, inexperienced royal at the time. She said: “I don’t know why they asked me, because patently as a 19-year-old who had done very little, that was quite an interesting risk.”
It has, of course, paid off for the charity that they put their faith in the Queen’s daughter.
Anne’s broad experience of working with over 300 charities and her social cache as a member of the Royal Family is a huge benefit to those she works with.
Lord Sebastian Coe said: “The great advantage of having the Princess Royal sitting at your boardroom table is that when you have someone of that bandwidth of experience, it allows you to make much better and informed choices.”
Anne’s former private secretary, Captain Sir Nicholas Wright RN, added: “The Princess has a really inquisitive mind and a huge knowledge across the workings of all her charities.”
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Princess Anne had a rather humble confession
Princess Anne with Save the Children in Gambia in 1984
However, Anne insisted that it is she who has benefited from her work with Save the Children.
She emphasised how this first, very important role helped her to learn and grow and be a better patron for other charities.
She said: “I suppose it took me about 10 years to work out just how Save the Children functions, so I didn’t say very much for about 10 years.
“It was a good organisation to learn from because if you’ve got children involved, it’s about health, it’s education, it links to all sorts of things.”
Princess Anne in Tibet with Save the Children in 1992
Broadcaster Valerie Singleton recalled the film she made with Blue Peter, following the princess round on a tour of Africa with Save the Children in 1970.
It was the first solo trip the princess had done, and she was a “a bit awkward” initially.
Previously, Anne had only ever attended royal events with her mother, Queen Elizabeth II, her father, Prince Philip or her brother, Prince Charles.
Now, she was entirely on her own and centre of attention.
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TV presenter Valerie Singleton
Ms Singleton said: “The princess gets this wonderful new role.
“At royal events before that she had been with her mother and father and maybe with Prince Charles. This time, it was her film.”
Their first ever interview for the film was while flying in a small aircraft.
The Blue Peter presenter asked Anne how she felt about flying and she said that it was not her preferred mode of transport.
Ms Singleton recalled: “Probably that first interview was a little awkward, because it was the first time she was doing it and it was the first time I was doing it.
“Once we got to Kenya, it became much more relaxed. She’s very natural, she was very easy with the children.
“I think she was enjoying the film, being there and being ‒ let’s face it, she was the centre of attention.
“But she absolutely knew all about Save the Children Fund and she absolutely wasn’t going to make any mistakes, she had done her homework.”
Ms Singleton’s claim that Anne “knew all about” the charity is in contrast to Anne’s self-effacing comments about her inexperience.
They also show that, even from the very beginning, Anne was conscientious and hard-working, always making sure she knew about how the charity worked.
She carries that through to this day, researching in detail each of the charities and organisations she visits.
Her daughter Zara Tindall commented: “She’s like a sponge, it’s unbelievable the information that’s stored in her brain.”