Princess Anne on life at 70 and helping the Queen get to grips with video calls during lockdown

Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship

Princess Anne is the kind of granny who wants to get involved in her grandchildren's lives.

But she readily admits that her idea of fun isn't always shared by her four granddaughters.

The Queen's only daughter has been speaking to ITV for a documentary to mark her 70th birthday next month.

And like many of us she has also to spend part of the lockdown trying to teach her elderly parents about new technology. But in her case, her elderly mother, is The Queen.

The revealing documentary, which airs on ITV on Wednesday evening, gives us a behind-the-scenes look into the life of this senior Royal than we've had for some considerable time.

Famously hard-working with a quick wit and her father's sharp tongue, the television cameras followed her for the past year.

She spoke about the "challenges" of home-schooling for her grandchildren during the lockdown.

"They face the same challenges as everybody else in terms of home schooling", she said. "Actually that is a challenge wherever you are."

But the Princess Royal admits her own version of home-learning hasn't been as popular as she thought it would be. She said: "I've offered to try and do some outdoor learning but so far it hasn't been taken up on!"

Anne added:  "When I was small we had to pick things and then press them and identify them. I don't think anybody does that anymore. And I was thinking: 'Ah, it might be a good idea if we started doing that again.'"

She laughs as she admits, "I haven't seen hide nor hair of them at that suggestion!"

Her daughter Zara Tindall tells the programme how she likes to leave her two daughters, Mia Lena, with granny: "Yeah, we quite like leaving them on Sundays. We say: 'I'll pick them up later. See you then!'"

Anne's son Peter, who has two daughters with Autumn Phillips from whom he is getting divorced, says: "She loves seeing them ride, she loves having them round for Sunday lunches and taking them for walks. Doing all the things that we would do as kids".

Anne is filmed with three of her grandchildren, Savannah, Isla and Mia, at the horse trials she hosts each year at Gatcombe Park - the estate in Gloucestershire where she lives.

Savannah and Isla Phillips at the horse trials Princess Anne hosts each year at Gatcombe Park. Credit: Anne: The Princess Royal at 70, Wednesday at 9pm on ITV.

But the trials - like most other sporting events had to be cancelled this year due to coronavirus.

"It's the longest time I've ever spent at Gatcombe in the 40-odd years we've been here", she said. "It's frustrating but you look around you, it's not hard being here."

And she says she feels for those much less fortunate than her: "The idea of being stuck in a block of flats with small children. I can't imagine how difficult that would be."

Princess Anne also shared the frustration that many might have experienced as their parents tried to learn new technology to keep in touch.

Princess Anne's children, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, speak candidly about their mum. Credit: Anne: The Princess Royal at 70, Wednesday at 9pm on ITV.

On a video call to support the nation's carers, during National Carers' Week, Anne is trying to link up with Windsor Castle on a Webex call.

"It's Tom here" the voice of the Queen's Assistant Private Secretary Tom Laing-Baker is heard on the screen. "I'm just going to introduce Her Majesty The Queen."

Anne: "Ah. Good morning at Windsor."

Queen: "Good morning. I'm very glad to have been able to join you."

Anne: "Can you see everybody? You should have six people on your screen."

Queen: "Yes, well I can see four anyway!"

Anne: "Actually, you don't need me. You know what I look like!"

The call is finally established and it was released to the media by Buckingham Palace shortly afterwards.

And while Princess Anne has managed to master video calls, it's clear she has no such time for social media.

"I know what Twitter is but I wouldn't go anywhere near it if you paid me, frankly", Anne said, giving Twitter a taste of her famously sharp tongue!

  • Anne: The Princess Royal at 70 is on Wednesday 29 July at 9pm on ITV.