Princess Anne suggests Charles was right to want a slimmed-down monarchy when Harry and Andrew were working royals but warns there could now be ‘too much burden on William and Kate’, experts say
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Princess Anne’s admission that it may have been ‘justifiable’ to slim down the monarchy before Charles became King is tacit approval for his decision to cut out Harry, Meghan and Prince Andrew, royal experts told MailOnline today.
The late Queen’s only daughter, 72, who is the hardest working royal in terms of annual engagements, spoke in defence of the Royal Family, insisting it brings ‘long-term stability’, ‘continuity’ and ‘goodness’ to the UK and Commonwealth.
But some believe the Princess Royal also hinted that there may be too much pressure on William and Kate as the ageing pool of working royals continues to shrink.
The King himself is known to be in favour of a smaller, cheaper monarchy. And in a nod to the larger number of working royals when Meghan, Harry and Andrew were in the fold, Anne said in an interview with Canadian TV today: ‘I think that “slimmed down” was said in a day when there were a few more people to make that seem like a justifiable comment’.
When it was put to her that the world changes, Anne said: ‘It changes a bit. 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.’
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline: ‘Anne implies support for the action taken against Andrew and also against the Sussexes, who wanted a half-in, half-out role as senior working royals which was refused’.
Expert Phil Dampier added: ‘Anne has always worked hard but she probably feels there is too much of a burden on William and Kate. We have got a slimmed down monarchy by default, but you can go too far.
Princess Anne insisted today that the monarchy is in safe hands with King Charles after sitting down for a rare interview ahead of her brother’s Coronation
King Charles III shakes hands with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a visit to Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster to attend a reception ahead of the coronation.
Some have read Anne’s comments that her brother has been right to cut out Harry, Andrew and Meghan and a warning to Charles not to go further
‘There is a danger that they become short of numbers. Anne is in her seventies, as are the King and Queen, and the likes of the Kents and Gloucesters are close to retiring.
‘The late Queen and Prince Philip had 1600 patronages between them and so who is now going to take up those charities and causes?’
READ MORE: Princess Anne holds bombshell interview on eve of King Charles’ coronation
In the extraordinary interview with Canada’s CBC News, released just five days before the Coronation, Anne also distanced the Windsors from the slave trade amid calls for Britain and the royals to pay compensation.
Chatting to CBC chief correspondent Adrienne Arsenault ahead of her visit to New Brunswick later this month, the Princess Royal also spoke with sadness about the defining image of her mother alone in grief at Prince Philip’s funeral.
Mr Dampier said: ‘I know the late Queen hated masks and thought they were unnecessary in many situations. She was old school, having lived through the war, and probably thought society over reacted to the pandemic’.
Mr Fitzwilliams added: ‘Her comments about the photograph of the Queen, isolated and wearing a mask at her husband’s funeral, may well reflect what the monarch thought. The nation’s heart went out to her and Anne’s comments about the dreadful effect of isolation during the pandemic reflect strongly held views with which many would agree’.
Charles recently agreed to support a study into historical links between the monarchy and slavery, while a new poll for the Mail revealed today most Britons believe that the King should not apologise. Describing her own view as ‘slightly different, maybe more realistic’, Anne said: ‘Come on… don’t be too focused on time scales and periods. History isn’t like that.’
She added that the pandemic and lockdowns robbed her father and other older people of social interaction and stimulation.
‘Covid stole from my father, who lost a lot of the people who would have gone to see him and come and talk to him and have those conversations that would have kept him interested. He lost all of that’, Anne said.
‘I’m sure that there are lots of families who will tell you the same thing. For the older generation, losing those contacts – online didn’t do that for everybody’.
Biographer and investigative journalist Tom Bower said: ‘Anne is a wise, hard working and respected member of the Royal Family. It’s fascinating that she chose this moment to speak. She clearly thinks that Charles should not enjoy the spotlight alone. And his own silence has left a vacuum she fills with typically forthright views. She is a great asset which the King knows he needs.
‘Her opinions should be influential. She knows that without Harry and Andrew the Royal Family is stretched fulfil all the expectations of visits, patronages and openings. She also knows that the family is much loved across the country. The slimming down she refers to is the expenditure. She is modest but Charles is not – for a start he has too many homes. At least 11 palaces, houses and castles’.
William and Kate face increasing numbers of royal engagements
Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh and Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, help prepare food as they visited visit Big Venture Community Centre, Wolverhampton today
Anne described the sadness at the photo of her mother alone at her husband’s funeral in 2021 – and said that lockdowns had robbed her father of social interaction and stimulation, as with many older people
Britain’s King Charles III (L) and Britain’s Princess Anne, Princess Royal, at church in Windsor for Easter. She says the monarchy is safe in her brother’s hands
READ MORE: Britain’s rock solid support for the Royal Family: With Charles’ Coronation just four days way, a major poll reveals there is little appetite for republicanism… but reform IS needed
Anne also looked deeply moved as she also described following her mother’s coffin on its journey from Balmoral in Scotland to Buckingham Palace after her death last September.
Anne’s interview CBC News is one of the most wide-ranging carried out by royals, other than Harry and Meghan, in recent times. At the end, when asked whether she is worried about the future of the British Royal Family, she gave a resounding: ‘No’.
Since 2020, the Sussexes have stepped down as working royals and Prince Andrew was stripped of his HRH title, patronages and military affiliations by his mother.
Before he became King, Charles was vocal about wanting fewer working members of the Royal Family and a cheaper, smaller, institution.
But Anne has suggested she believes the pool of working royals is already small enough, in a nod to Megxit and her brother Andrew’s fall from grace.
Defending the role of the monarchy in modern times, especially with a new King, she added: ‘There will be [conversations about relevance] everywhere. It’s not a conversation that I would necessarily have.
‘It’s perfectly true that there is a moment when 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 in any other way.’
Anne looks on at her brother on the day of their mother’s funeral
Tractors lined both sides of the road as the Queen’s cortege passed through the Aberdeenshire countryside on its way to Edinburgh. Anne described being moved by it
How Princess Anne was once again the hardest working royal in 2022
Princess Anne: 214 engagements
King Charles: 181 engagements
Prince Edward: 143 engagements
Sophie Wessex: 138 engagements
Prince of Wales: 126 engagements
Queen Consort: 102 engagements
Duke of Gloucester: 100 engagements
Duchess of Gloucester: 94 engagements
Princess of Wales: 90 engagements
The Duke of Kent: 78 engagements
Princess Alexandra: 44 engagements
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‘I rather hope that sometimes what we can do is just to underline the goodness and the fact that there are an awful lot of people out there who really do understand about the way they behave towards each other is important and that the monarchy provides an element of a focus to that level of service and encourages that in the long term.
‘It’s not a short-term thing. You’re there for the long term.’
Anne also claimed the British public would know what to expect from the King as he prepares to formalise his position in a much-anticipated ceremony on Saturday.
She added: ‘He is committed to his own level of service, that will remain true.’
The Princess Royal’s interview came as a major poll reveals rock-solid support for the Royal Family in Britain.
The poll by former Conservative deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft revealed Britain would decisively back the monarchy if a referendum on the subject were held tomorrow.
She said that she was not worried about the future for the royal family, but admitted that it was right to discuss it following her mother’s death.
William, Kate, Harry and Meghan meet crowds following the Queen’s death. The Sussexes show no signs of returning as working royals
‘We don’t, in many respects, need to deal with it [a drop in people wanting the monarchy to continue], not least of all because it is the monarch that is the key to this and the constitution that underpins the monarchy,’ Anne added in her interview.
‘We as a family see ourselves as there to support that role.
READ MORE: Support for the Sussexes slumps: Now only Prince Andrew is less popular than Harry and Meghan… and just a third believe all of their claims about the Royal family
‘What we do, we hope, contributes to the monarchy and the way in which it can convey continuity, not just of interest but service and understanding the way that people and communities want to live their lives.
‘I think so often we get the chance to see communities and the people who do things really well and are very generous with their time in a way that, if you look at the media, you tend not to get that impression’.
She added: ‘My mother was the Queen for a very long time. And although you kind of know that this might happen, you don’t really think about it very much — not least of all because the monarchy is about continuity.’
‘For the rest of us, it’s more a question of, OK, we have to shift the way we support. And that’s what we need to do.’
Last month Britain faced new calls to pay compensation for its role in the slave trade after King Charles signalled his support for a study into historical links between the monarchy and slavery.
Buckingham Palace is cooperating with landmark academic research into the British monarchy’s involvement with the transatlantic slave trade and said the King took the issue ‘profoundly seriously’.
When asked about what her brother meant about ‘support’, she said: ‘It’s not really a subject of conversation that I would even go down. I have a historical perspective which is slightly different, maybe more realistic.’
‘The historical perspective [is] it just goes back a lot further. And the modern contexts are very different. Slavery hasn’t gone away.’
Speaking about what her mother had felt about the Platinum Jubilee last June, she said: ‘It was a long weekend for her. But when she came at the end, that really made a difference. I think she appreciated it’.
Anne then reflected on the death of her mother in the interview. She was moved by it.
Speaking of the days travelling the country during the mourning period, she said: ‘I think we took a lot of it in, partly because we knew the route and I did actually spot people I knew on the way.
‘It was such an impressive sight and it was more than that because it was really touching in the way that people responded and how they did things.
‘People brought their ponies and horses out, but they not only brought them out, they plaited them, they were properly dressed and well turned out.
‘They brought their tractors out, and they parked them tidily, they were all clean.
‘If you come from a rural background I was really impressed, it was just an astonishing sight.
‘But the sheer numbers of people who turned up in quite extraordinary places. You’re never going to miss that and the atmosphere it created.
‘Leaving Balmoral was never easy, but then it never has been. I was just as bad when I was leaving as a child, because I didn’t like leaving, [I was happy there].’
Harry and Meghan’s cheerleader, Omid Scobie, praised the discussion on social media.
He wrote: ‘A refreshingly fluff-free interview with Princess Anne by CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault, who (amongst many questions) asked the Princess Royal about the growing decline in support for the British Monarchy and how they deal with it as a family.’
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