Princess Anne Cautions Younger Royals Not to Forget "the Basics"

Princess Anne has some words of wisdom for the next generation of royals.

By Samantha Schnurr Apr 15, 2020 5:01 PMTags

With more than 40 years of experience and involvement in hundreds of charities and organizations, Princess Anne certainly knows a thing or two about being a productive working royal. 

In a rare interview with Vanity Fair, the soon-to-be 70-year-old Princess Royal, famously the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, reflected on her life's work as a member of the British royal family and what it means to her to serve, particularly as a new generation of royals rise up. 

"It's not just about, Can I get a tick in the box for doing this? No, it's about serving," she told Vanity Fair. "It comes from an example from both my parents' way of working and where they saw their role being. I mean, my father served. It was a more direct form of service, I suppose you could argue. And the queen's has been a lifelong service in a slightly different way, but they both have that perspective of service which is about working with people."

But, as the next generation emerges and perspectives shift with time, Princess Anne knows not all change is necessarily good. 

Relive the Royal Family's Biggest Moments of 2019

Per the magazine, the princess described herself as "the boring old fuddy-duddy at the back saying, 'Don't forget the basics.'" 

"I don't think this younger generation probably understands what I was doing in the past and it's often true, isn't it? You don't necessarily look at the previous generation and say, 'Oh, you did that?' Or, ‘You went there?' Nowadays, they're much more looking for, ‘Oh let's do it a new way,'" she elaborated. "And I'm already at the stage, 'Please do not reinvent that particular wheel. We've been there, done that. Some of these things don't work. You may need to go back to basics.'"

Indigo/Getty Images

As for her own retirement, it certainly doesn't sound immediate for the royal with an upcoming milestone birthday. In fact, the busy princess had even planned to be in New York for royal work in the fall, though those plans are now up in the air given the current coronavirus pandemic. 

"I don't think retirement is quite the same [for me]," she told Vanity Fair. "Most people would say we're very lucky not to be in that situation because you wouldn't want to just stop. It is, to a large extent, the choice of the organizations you're involved with and whether they feel you're still relevant. But I think both my father and my mother have, quite rightly, made decisions about, you know, 'I can't spend enough time doing this and we need to find somebody else to do it' because it makes sense. I have to admit they continued being there for a lot longer than I had in mind, but we'll see."