ANYONE who wasn’t already a fan of Princess Anne certainly is after watching this week’s ITV documentary to commemorate her 70th birthday.
Anne is always referred to as the hardest working royal, and now it’s clear why, last year she had more than 500 engagements and it has been like that for half a century.
Princess Anne is often overlooked. She has always been there in the background, just quietly getting on with it, with absolutely no fuss.
Fuss, in fact, is clearly something that the royal has no time for as Anne was astonished to learn it takes Erin Doherty — the actress who plays her in the third series of The Crown — two hours to style her hair, as opposed to the “ten or 15 minutes” it takes Anne.
I loved the portrayal of the young princess in the Netflix series: Down to earth, feisty and straightforward, which I suspect is accurate to a tee.
I have always wondered whether the royals watch the drama and Princess Anne revealed she did and found it “quite interesting”.
She was followed for more than a year by the filmmakers of Anne: The Princess Royal At 70, which also featured unseen family footage and interviews with her loved ones.
I loved the stories from her children, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, describing how she would return from royal functions in her glamorous outfits and head straight to their farm to tend to the animals.
Zara said: “She’d come home from engagements in exactly what she was wearing, make-up on, put her welly boots on, jacket on, do her chickens and get her eggs.”
The appealing thing about Princess Anne is her work ethic and how happy she is to stay in the background.
Her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, said: “She’s not a person that is constantly looking for praise. She gets on and does her work regardless because she thinks it’s important.”
So it came as no surprise when Anne declared in the documentary that she would not go on Twitter “even if you paid me”.
Princess Anne is not the only hard-working royal, of course.
Her brother Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, do loads of good work and are similarly modest in their approach.
These members of the Royal Family are in stark contrast to Harry and Meghan, who claim that work is more important than anything else, but rarely get on with it quietly.
After all, Princess Anne does her job brilliantly, with no whinging or whining, and still remains out of the spotlight, which proves it can be done.
Another appealing trait of Anne’s is her modesty about how hard she works. She has no intention of slowing down, despite being old enough to retire.
She’s a credit to her family and the Queen — and the two of them clearly have a lot in common.
I loved watching them interact and seeing that mother-daughter bond. You can see there’s real affection there. And what a great, dry sense of humour they both have.
So it’s nice to watch something positive about the Royal Family these days.
By simply being herself in the documentary, Princess Anne has generated more positive PR for the monarchy than it has had in a very long while.
Gwyn is a real tonic
LOOKING at pictures of Gwyneth Paltrow on Instagram promoting a ready-to-drink brand of organic cocktails, I found myself thinking that no matter how much some people want to hate her, Gwyneth comes across as enviably wholesome, gorgeous, healthy . . . and probably a really nice person.
The bottom line is that anyone who says they hate her is almost certainly just jealous.
Full time for hidden struggle
I AM so proud our national game has signed up to the Mentally Healthy Football Declaration, which urges young men – and men of all ages, in fact – to talk about their feelings, which is something males traditionally seem to struggle with.
We can talk about the THEORY of mental health all we like but the power of role models, particularly for young guys, is immense.
So it is lovely to see some footballing greats being open and honest about their own mental health – and the fact things haven’t always necessarily been rosy in the garden throughout their lives.
Spearheaded by the Duke of Cambridge, the campaign is designed to make mental health a priority across all levels of football.
So kudos to former England captain David Beckham, Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings, Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend and Manchester City and England skipper Steph Houghton for talking frankly about their own mental health and the state of play in football more generally.
Beckham, in particular, yields great influence. Hearing him talk about the effects of being vilified and abused by fans after he was red-carded against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup was very powerful.
“When I look back on it now, I didn’t realise how hard it was,” he says. “The times I’ve faced adversity throughout my career – and ’98 was by far the toughest – did I feel OK to go to someone and say I needed help? No. I felt I had to keep it all in and deal with it myself.
“Now I’m preaching to my kids and to other kids that it’s really important to talk. It’s OK not to be OK and it’s OK to say that. It’s OK to come out and say, ‘I need help’.”
Let’s hope young men everywhere take that on board and realise it’s good to talk.