If you haven’t heard of Princess Anne (other than the portrayal of her in Netflix’s The Crown), it’s because she’s keen to keep her head down and do the work—she is consistently the hardest working royal, year after year. She rarely ends up in the headlines but is today for an interview she gave in which, according to The Mirror, she said older brother King Charles’ idea of a slimmed down monarchy “doesn’t look like a good idea from where I’m standing.”
The news is shocking because, if there was a royal whose mantra would be “Keep calm and carry on,” it’d probably be Anne. The King has long supported the concept of a “slimmed down monarchy”—less full-time working royals than Queen Elizabeth. Other outcroppings of the “slimmed down monarchy” concept include a Coronation much smaller in scale, and potentially even opening Buckingham Palace to the public in the future. In the King’s plans, according to The Mirror, the main working royals would narrow to just seven: The King and Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, and Anne herself. (Anne, by the way, is the only daughter of her parents, Her late Majesty and Prince Philip; the King is her older brother, and Prince Andrew and Prince Edward are her younger brothers.)
Speaking to Canadian network CBC’s chief correspondent Adrienne Arsenault, the Princess Royal said “Well, I think the ‘slimmed down’ was said in a day when there were a few more people around to make that seem like a justifiable comment,” she said. Famously—or infamously, perhaps—the working core of the royal family lost Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and Andrew, all senior royals, within the past three years. Her parents also both passed away within that timeframe.
“It changes a bit,” Anne said. “I mean, it doesn’t sound like a good idea from where I’m standing, I have to say. I’m not quite sure what else, you know, we can do.”
As to whether there are conversations surrounding the monarchy’s relevance, Anne said “There will be, everywhere. It’s not a conversation that I would necessarily have. I think it’s perfectly true that it s a moment where you need to have that discussion. But I would just underline that the monarchy provides, with the constitution, a degree of long-term stability that is actually quite hard to come by any other way.”
She opened up candidly about her parents, saying of her father, Philip (who died in April 2021), “In some respects, I tend to think it [the pandemic] stole a bit from my father, who lost a lot of the people who would have gone to see him and talked to him and had those conversations that kept him interested. He lost all of that. I’m sure there are lots of families that would tell you the same thing, for the older generation, losing those contacts—online didn’t do it for everybody.” Discussing the heartbreaking photo of the Queen sitting alone at his funeral, she said “In some ways, I’m glad we didn’t see that at that moment. When you see the photograph, it is much worse somehow. And you saw more of that than we did accompanying the coffin.”
In the wide-ranging interview she also discussed the King’s leadership and what type of King he will be, saying “Well, you know what you’re getting, because he’s been practicing for a bit, and I don’t think he’ll change,” she said. (The King had been apprenticing for the role of monarch for nearly 74 years when he ascended to the throne last September.) “He is committed to his own level of service. That will remain true.”
When Arsenault suggested that Anne doesn’t seem worried about the health or longevity of the monarchy, Anne replied “I think you’re putting words into my mouth, as they say.” She added that she believes there is “genuine benefit from this particular arrangement, the constitutional monarchy, and I think it has good long-term benefits” and “that commitment to long term is what the monarchy stands for.”
Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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