PRINCESS ANNE has never had a very good relationship with the press – but one particular thing really riled them up and allegedly “made them go for her”.
When Anne started dating Army officer Mark Phillips in the early Seventies, she wanted to keep his identity a secret. She even took to driving around with him in the back of her horse box to keep him hidden. Then the time came for them to get engaged, she wanted to keep this private too and only announced it in her own time.
This meant she did not tell the Palace press office or even, reportedly, the Queen about her intentions.
Robin Ludlow, press secretary to the Queen 1972-73, told the 2002 Channel 4 documentary ‘The Real Princess Anne’ that he specifically asked her if she was going to get engaged and she denied it.
He said: “I set about asking, firstly, the princess if she was going to get engaged and she said she wasn’t.
“And when I asked the Queen whether she thought the princess would get engaged, she said she wished she knew.
Princess Anne annoyed the press by how she acted in 1973 (Image GETTY)
Princess Anne and her first husband Mark Phillips (Image: GETTY)
“So whenever the press asked me what was going on, I was able to say to them that as far as I was concerned, very truthfully, that she wasn’t going to get engaged.”
However, when the engagement was finally announced in May 1973, the press were incensed because they felt like they had been lied to.
This only ramped up their feeling of animosity towards the allegedly sour-faced and sulky Anne.
Harry Arnold, who was a royal reporter for The Sun at the time, told the documentary: “The romance was denied on a daily basis by Buckingham Palace.
Princess Anne married Mark Phillips in 1973 (Image: GETTY)
“And I remember one particular press officer saying: ‘No, Princess Anne is not getting engaged today, she’s not getting engaged tomorrow and she’s not getting engaged next week either’ – and two days later, the engagement was announced!
“And that makes the press pretty cross, because they’re simply being lied to, and it makes them, in effect, go for her.”
However, according to the documentary narrator, Anne had simply “outfoxed” the press, which got under their skin because they had missed out on “the scoop of the decade”.
While this particular incident rankled with the press, Anne had never been depicted particularly well beforehand.
Princess Anne – ‘Naff off’ picture on right (Image: GETTY & YouTube (laduchesse))
Anne’s fall directly before the ‘naff off’ moment (Image: GETTY)
She was accused of being “bad-tempered” on her royal visit to the US in 1970 with her brother Prince Charles.
According to royal expert Kitty Kelley, she “made Charles look good” in comparison to her due to how she acted.
Ms Kelley wrote in her book The Royals: “He smiled for the photographers, she swatted them like flies.”
On one infamous occasion at one of her equestrian competitions, she lost her temper with a group of press photographers and told them to “naff off” among other, perhaps ruder, phrases.
The photograph of Anne pulling a face and gesturing at the camera flew around the world.
Steve Wood, Daily Express royal photographer, said: “It’s the naff off picture, when she lost it and told me to naff off – and that created a storm.”
Ashley Walton, Daily Express royal reporter 1980-1994, explained: “The truth is we made up the ‘naff off’ off word to cover up another word.”
Mr Wood added: “I think it might have been in the conversation but there were a lot of other ‘f off’ words at the time.”
Princess Anne and Mark Phillips in 2014 with their daughter Zara (Image: GETTY)
However, Anne had something of a public image makeover in 1982 while on a royal tour in Africa in the capacity of her role as President of Save the Children.
It was on this tour that the press decided to spin the image of Anne in a different way – one that was far more favourable.
James Whittaker said: “Half way through the tour, instead of attacking Anne, I rang my editor and said ‘Look, she’s actually doing quite a good job. I still don’t like the woman but I want to write a really positive piece.’
“I was going to emphasise all the really good things she did, rather than the bad ones.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK