Princess Anne Is Getting a Popularity Boost, Thanks to The Crown-But She's Always Been Great
Princess Anne gets it.
On The Crown, actress Erin Doherty plays the precocious royal with a near-constant smirk, often paired with a raised eyebrow. Despite having spent her entire life cocooned in the unreality of royal life, this Princess Royal sees through the nonsense that surrounds her—and has no time for it.
The real Princess Anne has time for lots of things: to complete the most public engagements of any member of the royal family year after year; to dig through her closet to find decades-old outfits to rewear; to compete in the Olympics as an equestrian. But bullshit? She swats it down like an errant fly.
Back in 1974, someone tried some real bullshit on her: a bonafide kidnapping attempt. Threatened at gunpoint and told to get out of the car, the 23-year-old royal flatly refused. "Bloody likely," she huffed.
"It was all so infuriating; I kept saying I didn't want to get out of the car, and I was not going to get out of the car," she told officers, according to files later released by the National Archives. "I nearly lost my temper with him, but I knew that if I did, I should hit him and he would shoot me." He did not—thanks in a large part to her quick thinking—and Princess Anne and her then-husband Captain Mark Phillips escaped unscathed.
In the years since, the now-69-year-old has told unwanted photographers to "naff off," been fined for driving her Bentley at 93 mph en route to an engagement—and never shaken hands with the fans who gather in crowds to meet her. "I think the initial concept was that it was patently absurd to start shaking hands," Anne explained in a documentary. So she never did.
What with a younger generation of royals often in the spotlight, it's often only the most devoted fans who discover Anne's merits—fans like Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, the writers behind the beloved fashion blog Go Fug Yourself.
Morgan says that after years of putting together the site's weekly royal round-up, she "grew very fond of Anne's constantly skeptical expression." She added that she and Cocks "have a long-running joke on the site that she's secretly a detective who is investigating all manner of shenanigans."
Cocks says her Anne fandom runs in the family. "My dad was from England, and we lived over there for a time, and I always remember my parents having a particular respect for her because she puts her head down and works. Period," she says. "You get the sense she takes her privilege very seriously. She's what a working royal should be, I think."
It's true, Anne couldn't be less keen on the trappings of aristocracy. "If it doesn't fart or eat hay, then she isn't interested," Prince Philip once said of her.
Tobias Menzies's Philip in The Crown understands this too, when he calls on her for a favor. He'd misjudged how "relatable" the Windsors in their palaces could seem when he pushed to expose them in a BBC documentary, and—citing her well-worn boots as evidence—Philip proclaims that she's the only family member down-to-earth enough to save them from themselves. He asks that she give a reporter some time with Deadpan Anne to get the public back on their side. She finds a better way to get the job done, setting up her grandmother for an interview in her place.
It's not a historically accurate story, but it is a very Anne thing to do. And her fictional father wasn't entirely misguided; Anne does have a distinctly un-royal flair. Ask her to seek public adoration for it, though? Not bloody likely.