The Crown season four touches on this incident, with Anne ranting to her mother, Queen Elizabeth II, about how the press has “got it in” for her. Anne says in the Netflix drama: “They are there wherever I go. Journalists. Photographers. They’ve just got it in for me. Bastards. I told them to naff off, once! And can you blame me? They’re so mean to me all the time.”
However, according to the journalists who were there at the time, Anne actually said “other f off words”, but they just did not report that bit.
In fact, they even said they might have “made up” the ‘naff’ word themselves.
The Princess Royal was winning equestrian competitions in the early Seventies, including the European Eventing Championships, but she was often frustrated by photographers capturing her falling off her horse and asking personal questions.
Several times she lost her temper and those pictures ended up splashed across front pages.
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Princess Anne’s infamous ‘naff off’ comment was not the whole story
Princess Anne falling off her horse at a competition
Steve Wood, royal photographer for the Daily Express at the time, was the target of her comments on one of these occasions.
He told the 2002 Channel 4 documentary ‘The Real Princess Anne’: “It’s the naff off picture when she lost it and told me to naff off, and that created a storm.”
However, his colleague Ashley Walton said: “The truth is, we made up the ‘naff’ word to cover up another word.”
Asked to confirm whether Anne actually said the phrase, Mr Wood claimed the princess had actually been much ruder.
Erin Coherty as Princess Anne in The Crown
He said: “I think that might have been in the conversation, but there were a lot of other ‘f off’ words at the time.”
One of the questions that infuriated Anne at the time was reporters asking her whether she was going to get married.
She had been seen with Andrew Parker Bowles, who would later go on to marry Camilla Shand, now wife of Anne’s brother Prince Charles.
She was also associated with Olympic gold medalist Richard Meade.
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Princess Anne was unhappy in her marriage to Mark Phillips
However, she ended up marrying fellow equestrian and Army officer Captain Mark Phillips in 1973, who she had two children with, Peter and Zara.
However, the pair started drifting apart and both were unfaithful in the marriage.
In The Crown, they also touch on Anne’s unhappy marriage and her alleged affair with her royal protection officer Peter Cross.
The Queen says: “There has been talk and a meeting recently with Commander Trestrail, head of the royal protection branch.
“He felt compelled to mention rumours about a Sergeant Cross and the two of you being intimate.
“And in the light of these rumours, Scotland Yard has recommended his transfer back to desk duties in Croydon.”
Anne, looking devastated, says: “Don’t do that to me. You can’t, he is the one thing that makes me happy.”
In real life, it was reported that Anne had become “over-familiar” with her royal protection officer, who was swiftly transferred away from royal duties.
Later, in 1989, another affair of Anne’s was discovered after love letters from Commander Timothy Laurence, the Queen’s Equerry, was stolen from her briefcase and sent to the press.
Not long after, the couple separated and they divorced in 1992.
However, Mark was not without his affairs too ‒ in fact, it came to light in 1991 that he had even fathered an illegitimate child with an art teacher from New Zealand called Heather Tonkin.
In 1992, Anne married Tim Laurence, and Mark later married Sandy Plfeuger in 1997, although they too separated in 2012.