On January 8th 2020, all minds were concentrated by a short statement on Instagram from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex saying they would step back as senior royals. Around the same time that this announcement was made, causing huge debate, another royal was making their own pronouncements but no one really noticed. For on Wednesday afternoon, the Princess Royal began a new year of royal duties.
Princess Anne, who has been one of the hardest working members of the Royal Family for decades, had two events which both unfolded with barely a mention as the world focused on the Sussexes. Both took place in Oxford and both supported a cause with which the Queen’s only daughter has been involved for years.
First on the list for Anne was the Oxford Farming Conference Debate which took place at the Oxford Union, the famous arena for exchange of words and ideas. The Princess Royal is the Honorary President of the Conference and attends many of its events every year. She began 2020 at one of its annual showpieces where agricultural experts debated whether ‘cheap food is worth the price”. The motion was defeated with the majority of those in the room believing cheap food isn’t worth the price – the Princess Royal’s vote isn’t known.
From there, Anne went to Christ Church College, Oxford to attend the Conference’s Dinner. She also gave a speech.
And just like that, what will be a packed year of engagements for the Princess Royal was under way. Anne regularly tops the annual tally for hardest working royal – although in 2019, she came in second to her big brother, the Prince of Wales. Between the two of them, they carried out well over 1,000 duties in the year just gone.
This week’s announcement by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex has led to discussions about the slimmed down Monarchy that Prince Charles is known to favour. Until this week, it was always presumed that would include Harry and Meghan but with their decision to step back, questions are now being raised as to whether royals including Anne will now continue to take on major chunks of the diary as the Windsors continue their transition from the reign of Elizabeth II to that of her son.
The one person guaranteed not to say anything about that is Anne. However, her actions are speaking for her – as controversy raged around her family, the fourteenth in line to the throne was back to business as usual.