As Princess Anne celebrates her 73rd birthday on Tuesday she will continue to “break the mould of being a traditional royal”, according to a former royal butler.
In a new interview with Slingo, Grant Harrold, who worked for King Charles when he was the Prince of Wales for seven years, spoke about his stand-out memories of the Princess Royal.
Asked if he has any standout experiences of spending time with Anne, Grant said: “I remember once that Anne phoned the palace, as she wanted to speak to her brother. I remember picking the phone up and feeling so nervous.
“I heard her voice, I was trying to put her through to Charles and I pressed the wrong button and it cut her off! I was horrified. I apologised so many times. She was fine about it, but of course, that had to be our first time speaking.
“I’ve seen her a lot of times at events, too. She is always so friendly and polite to anyone she meets. I think her relationship with her father Philip has been played down a lot.
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“It was undermined. Whenever I saw her with her father, Philip, they looked so close and their bond was so strong. She was very close to her mother, but she was also very close to her father.”
Grant explained whether or not Anne is “laid back”: “Absolutely. You only have to look at footage of her from over the years, and she just doesn’t let anything phase her. I met with her on many occasions when I worked with the now King, and I really liked how straight-talking she was with everyone.
“She was like her father, Prince Philip, in that sense – but without the swearing. She is a very direct person. But there is a very fun side to Anne, which I would say comes from the late Queen.”
Princess Anne has two children, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall. Grant spoke about Anne’s relationship with her daughter: “They are both straight-talking people, but Zara definitely does it in her own way, as does Anne. I do see similarities between Anne and Zara. Zara definitely has the qualities of Philip and the late Queen, as does Anne.
“Zara has the same passion for animals that the Queen did. Zara and Anne are very close, as is Peter. The three of them are a close-knit unit. They all get on really well together. Zara also gets on really well with cousins William and Harry, too.
“When Mike was in the jungle, he said how terrified he was when he met Anne for the first time. Mike has quite a cheeky personality, and Anne likes that a lot. One thing I noticed about the Royal Family is that they like people to be themselves.
“If you’re naughty, be naughty. If you’re funny, be funny. You’ve got to own what you are, and Mike does that. He doesn’t try to change who he is around Anne or anyone. Anne also loves the rugby world too, she’s very much involved in Scottish rugby.
“I don’t think there is anything Mike can do that would shock her. From what we can tell, Mike and Anne get on really well. And obviously, Mike and Zara are made for each other. They’re a very close couple and they adore each other.”
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Grant explained whether or not Prince Philip was the parent Anne was closest to: “Personally, yes. She adored her mother, 100 per cent, her mother adored her. They had a brilliant relationship. But she was definitely very close with her father.
“Whenever they had outings or did family barbeques, Anne would be by his side. She would be helping him on the barbeque, or she would go fishing with him. Anne would be with him if he was going on a walk. It was the definition of daddy’s girl.
“Anne was Philip’s daddy’s girl. Towards the end of the Queen’s life, she was pinpointed as the Queen’s right-hand child. She definitely was, and they had a lovely bond as mother and daughter. But with her father, it was a very powerful bond between them.”
Grant offered suggestions for how Anne will celebrate her birthday on Tuesday: “When it comes to celebrations, she will always prefer to have a low-key celebration. She really prefers minimal fuss. She does break the mould of being a traditional royal in the way that she does things.
“She’s always been someone to do her own thing. You will see her out and about in her local town, just doing what she needs to do. In terms of her 73rd birthday, she will be spending her day with her children and her grandchildren. Her celebration will not be a big lavish party. She will be spending it at her private home. I don’t even think she had a big party for her 70th.
“I would expect that her family would be thinking of giving her some equestrian-related gifts. I can imagine it would be something to do with that part of her life.
“I wouldn’t expect people to give her a horse, but it could be as simple as a horse fridge magnet. And I have no doubt Zara or Peter would give her a jokey present as Anne has a great sense of humour. Royals give fun presents all the time.
“Anne could also be given more practical presents, whether that would be a jacket, a pair of wellies, or a hat. I would be thinking along the lines of something outdoorsy. She’s also really into her antiques, and that could be an option or even a lovely scented candle.”
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