On Tuesday night, the Royal Geographic Society played host to royalty, celebrating the launch of Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent’s new book, A Cheetah’s Tale. Notable attendees included the author’s husband, Prince Michael, and their daughter, Lady Gabriella Windsor, as well Lady Annabel Goldsmith, Julian Fellowes and author Frederick Forsyth.
Guests sipped on cocktails and queued up to have their copy of the book signed by Princess Michael before she sat down to with publisher Adrian Phillips to discuss her lifelong passion for cheetahs, her time growing up in Africa and her work to help protect the endangered animals.
The candid, hour-long discussion saw the princess read several excerpts from A Cheetah’s Tale and share tales of her introduction to life in Africa, including the story of how her father tricked her into smuggling a puppy across the border from South Africa into Zimbabwe. She also spoke candidly about her relationship with her father who was “more of a grandfather age” and who had an “unlimited supply of animal stories” which he regaled her with throughout their travels.
When asked about the biggest adjustment to life in the African wilderness, the princess recollected one of the first nights she was there when a late-night visit to the loo brought her face to face with one of her nightmares, saying “There was this black mamba curled up inside the loo bowl. Luckily I looked [first]!” The princess added that “I’m not very good at snakes. My husband is good at snakes – you could wrap a python around his neck!…But I’m not good at snakes.”
Princess Michael revealed that her interest in cheetahs started on a school trip to a museum where she saw some Indian miniatures (paintings) which showed Cheetahs as trained hunting weapons in the 16th century. “I was fascinated by that. That got me looking at cheetahs and the history of cheetahs, how they came from Afghanistan, went through Persia and then on to northern India.” From there the princess’s interest has only grown and her expertise on the animal was evident as she shared fascinating insight into the ways cheetahs interact, grow, multiply and hunt. “They can go from zero to 70 miles an hour in three seconds. That’s a bullet.”
The princess’s quick wit was evident throughout the evening and she had the audience in stitches on several occasions, including when she cut across Mr Phillips when he attempted to skip over the question of a man with a beard, saying “I love a man with a beard, I can’t resist one!”
Following the talk, Princess Michael visited with guests and signed a few more copies of the book while her proud husband watched on. When asked, Lady Gabriella praised her mother saying she “did so well” and beamed as guests, including Julian Fellows, congratulated the princess on the book and event.