The Princess Royal increasingly helps the Queen by giving out honours such as MBEs, OBEs and CBEs to people being recognised for their contribution to British life. However, she has a rather unique spin on these ceremonies that does not sit well with certain members of the royal household. Anne likes to spend a good chunk of time with each recipient, all of whom she has researched and memorised information about, which means that her investitures can take quite a long time.
Her former private secretary Captain Sir Nicholas Wright RN explained in the ITV documentary ‘Anne: The Princess Royal at 70’ that not everyone saw her way as the best way.
He said: “Some of the Palace authorities thought Anne’s investitures went on a bit too long.
“But it gave enormous joy and pride to the recipients which, at the end of the day, is what it’s all about.”
As well as it taking quite a while, those organising the ceremonies also had to adjust the number of people attending each time, due to the amount of time Anne spends with each one.
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Princess Anne in military uniform
Thai cave rescue divers received MBEs from Princess Anne
One organiser told the documentary: “The Princess Royal likes to spend a good chunk of time talking to each recipient.
“She’s really good at it, so we tailor the numbers accordingly.
“She does her homework with her staff on each person so that she knows their background story and will remember each one as they come up. She’s exceptional at it.”
The recipients are generally very pleased that Anne has taken the time to inform herself about their work and spent that extra bit of time with them.
Historian Professor Bettany Hughes received an OBE from Princess Anne for services to history
The documentary followed journalist Brenda Emmanus, who received an OBE last year for her services to broadcasting and diversity.
After receiving her award, she gushed about how Anne was very clued up on her work.
Ms Emmanus said: “She was lovely. She really really does hold a conversation with you, because I was really worried about what to say.
“And she knows about you as well ‒ she asked me whether I prefer being in front of the camera or behind.
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Journalist Brenda Emmanus received an OBE last year for services to broadcasting and diversity
“She knew a lot about my whole work!”
Investitures are really important for those who attend, a real honour recognising their years of hard work and dedication to their various causes.
Another recipient at this investiture, where 65 people came to receive their honours from the Princess Royal, was Linda Longstaff.
Mrs Longstaff travelled down to London from Sunderland with her family to receive an MBE for her work as a hospital chaplain.
She said: “Absolutely overwhelmed, what a day! And to be with my husband and my two girls, it’s wonderful.”
The events are fulfilling for Anne personally, too.
She said: “I didn’t think I would ever be asked to do an investiture. It’s a real pleasure.
“I’m delighted to be able to go on doing those.”
Photograph of Princess Anne to mark her 70th birthday
However, there are certain challenges that come along with it, one being that she sometimes has people tell her they have met her before.
Because Anne has been going around the country for over 50 years opening hospitals, visiting charities and attending events, she has met thousands of people and can’t be expected to remember all of them.
She admitted: “Talking about ‘we’ve met before’, that happens more in investitures than I care to think and then it’s often a bit of a challenge, but there you go.”
However, she asserted that she believes the honours system is a good one that reflects important issues in society.
She said: “People whinge about having an awards system, but actually this one does work and I think, on the whole, the decisions made have been good and they do reflect, I think, appropriately the important issues.”
She was backed up on this point by her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.
He said: “The system itself gets a bit of flack because occasionally somebody controversial gets an honour.
“But the award of an MBE to somebody who’s been beavering away for 10 or 20 years supporting some charitable cause is a massively important part of our national life.”
Royal commentator Wesley Kerr claimed these honours are at the very heart of what the monarchy does.