As Princess Anne approaches her 70th birthday, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip isn't slowing down. She carried out 500 official engagements last year and is keenly aware of the changes in her family, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's recent decision to step down as working royals on March 31. Her brother, Prince Andrew, also retired from public duty last year after his controversial connections to the late billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
In a rare interview with royal expert Katie Nicholl for Vanity Fair, Anne opens up like never before about her duties and the younger generation of royals.
“I don’t think retirement is quite the same [for me],” she says. “Most people would say we’re very lucky not to be in that situation because you wouldn’t want to just stop. It is, to a large extent, the choice of the organizations you’re involved with and whether they feel you’re still relevant. But 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. I have to admit they continued being there for a lot longer than I had in mind, but we’ll see.”
Queen Elizabeth is nearing her 94th birthday, while Prince Philip is 98. Now, the younger generation of royals, mostly headed up by Prince William, Kate Middleton and their three children, have become the new face of the monarchy, taking on the brunt of the responsibilities.
In the interview, Anne describes herself as “the boring old fuddy-duddy at the back saying, ‘Don’t forget the basics.’"
She warns younger royals, “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.’"
The interview takes place shortly after Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, announced their decision to give up their HRH titles and become financially independent from the royal family. Anne herself broke tradition with her children, Peter and Zara, opting not to give them HRH titles at birth.
“I think it was probably easier for them, and I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles,” she says. “So I think that was probably the right thing to do.”
Though Anne has gained a newfound popularity due to her portrayal by actress Erin Doherty on the most recent season of The Crown, a source tells Vanity Fair that she does not watch the Netflix series, as she “has no interest in watching her life acted out onscreen.”
Nicholl recently opened up to ET about Harry and Meghan's life under quarantine in Los Angeles with their 11-month-old son, Archie. Watch the clip below for more: