'She led by example': Princess Anne speaks candidly of her relationship with the Queen

Princess Anne spoke to ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship about her mother's seventy-year reign.

The Queen 'led by example' and understood 'what made society tick' throughout her seven-decade reign, the Princess Royal told ITV News. 

She spoke of her mother in a previously unseen interview with ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship in 2017, broadcast now for the first time today.

Princess Anne spoke candidly of her relationship with her mother, and the Queen's marriage to her father, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Anne also revealed she had always supported the way the Queen handled Princess Diana's funeral, during a crisis period for the royal family.

Anne rushed to her mother's bedside on Thursday, along with King Charles, their siblings and the Queen's grandchildren.

Princess Anne curtseys as her mother's coffin is carried into Holyroodhouse on Sunday

However Buckingham Palace announced the Queen had died at the age of 96, on 8 September.

Just three days after her loss, Anne spent a six-hour journey has followed the hearse carrying her mother's coffin on its final journey through Scotland.

Cameras captured glimpses of the grieving princess' grave expression as the hearse wound its way through Scotland, past crowds of thousands watching and applauding.

Speaking to ITV five years ago, Anne said her mother led by example, and her children followed her lead by “watching and learning”.  

Princess Anne is driven through Aberdeen, on a six-hour journey following the hearse carrying her mother's coffin. Credit: PA

“If you had a question that was specific, and that was true of some events, that would certainly be necessary, but it was about getting the experience and going to the right places and following on and keeping your eyes and ears open to learn how to do it." 

Anne, who is now 16th in line to the throne, said growing up in the Royal Family “there was an element of finding our own way."

"But if you asked you could certainly get help – there is nothing wrong in that”. 

She also said there is an assumption that people are prepared for a royal role, confiding - “I don’t think so”.  

“There is no manual, in that respect, it was about listening, and it was about learning, not making assumptions and certainly not throwing your weight around,” the 71-year-old royal said. 

The Queen, who was the longest-serving British monarch, ascended to the throne in 1952 on the death of her father, King George VI, and had been a symbol of continuity over decades of change.   

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh as they wave to onlooking crowds after her Coronation. Credit: PA

Anne said her mother epitomised what the country stands for, and her values were admired across the world.  

She told ITV News: “People don’t change that much, but they recognise those people whose commitment has been constant, and they know that those standards are not changing.

“I think that’s a remarkable skill to know what the true values are, and stick with those, not worry too much about the things, the fashions, the things that come and go, and to understand what the bedrock of society is and what makes it tick, and people’s relationships, which are fundamentally important.” 

Prince Philip and the Queen with their children Charles and Anne. Credit: PA

The Queen remembered 1992 as her 'annus horribilis'

The Crown endured troubled periods during the Queen's reign.

She referred to one year in particular as her “annus horribilis”.  

In 1992, the monarch watched three royal marriages collapse - and a fire destroyed more than 100 rooms in Windsor Castle. 

The monarchy was thrown into crisis again in 1997, following the death of Diana, the Princess of Wales in a car crash in Paris.  

Queen Elizabeth and The Princess Royal during the Braemar Royal Highland Gathering at the Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park. Credit: PA
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh view floral tributes to Diana, Princess of Wales, at Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

The Queen was heavily criticised for her response, which some perceived as uncaring and distant.

She was chastised for staying in Balmoral with Charles, and William and Harry, rather than travelling down to London. 

But the Princess Royal said her mother “did exactly the right thing” by keeping the two young princes away from London as they dealt with their grief. 

Watch Princess Anne speak about the Queen's handling of Princess Diana's funeral

“I think it's absolutely extraordinary that any right-minded thinking parents should believe… [there] would have been an alternative to bring those children down here to London in all that hoo ha,” Anne said.  

“I just don't know how you could think that that would have been a better thing to do…I don't think either of those two could, would have been able to cope they'd been anywhere else.  

Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry, Earl Althorp and Prince Philip walk behind Diana's funeral cortege Credit: Adam Butler/PA

“That was the only good thing that happened was that they were there, and they had that structure, they had people around them who could understand, give them the time, little time that they had, which was never going to be very much, to try and come - even in a fleeting sense - to terms with what had happened.  

“It's not possible for most people to do that in that space, never mind children at that age.” 

Princess Anne referred to the marriage of her parents as a "partnership"

Speaking about the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s 73-year marriage, Anne said their “partnership was really important”. 

In a speech on their Golden Wedding anniversary in 1997, the monarch said Philip had “quite simply been my strength and stay all these years”. 

Anne said her parents “complemented each other’s strengths and skills,” throughout their seven-decade marriage. 

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh each raise a glass to toast their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Credit: PA

The Princess Royal also spoke of how she and her mother enjoyed a shared passion for horses.

Anne has three European Championship medals under her belt, competed in equestrian events for Great Britain in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and served as president of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) from 1986 to 1994. 

While the Queen also enjoyed riding and watching racehorses from the royal box- she also developed a keen interest in the breeding of thoroughbreds for horseracing during her reign.  

Anne explained that when you live a “rather restricted life” horses become a lot more important, as they “give you an opportunity to take you right out of that zone”. 

The Queen with Princess Anne and her horse Estimate, after it won the Gold Cup horse race on the third day of the Royal Ascot. Credit: AP

“If you enjoy the challenges of breeding really good horses, that never stops,” she added.

Asked about the way in which the Queen has left the institution of monarchy in a very good shape for her successor – King Charles III – Anne said she believed her mother showed the “belief in values of behaviour towards each other”. 

“I think that’s her, what her life has shown, and if that’s the example that people find gives them the confidence for the future, then that’s, I’m sure, an encouragement to all of us, but there’s no doubt that her example has been absolutely key in that.” 

The remarkable life of the Queen remembered in our latest episode of What You Need To Know