A genuine royal princess was just a phone call away today, for those few Britons lucky enough to get through.
Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth, became the first leading member of British royalty to appear on a radio call-in program, answering questions about her childhood, her nervousness and her sometimes thorny relationship with the press.
An estimated 5,000 people tried to get through for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to speak to the princess, 262 actually completed their calls and 25 were able to ask questions.
Coffee served in china rather than plastic cups was the only concession to royalty at the windowless BBC studio where Anne received the calls.
In the course of the hour, Anne admitted that public engagements can still make her nervous.
She confessed to feeling overwhelmed and shy when she started out on public life and said even now there are always occasions when she feels a bit nervous.
“But equally, I think if one didn’t feel nervous about almost anything you probably wouldn’t do very well.”
Asked by 8-year-old Abigail Wharton if as a child she had played at princesses like other little girls, she said: “The one thing I never played at was being a princess. I’ve probably been playing at it ever since.”
Once tagged by journalists as the haughtiest and least popular member of the British royal family, the princess, who has two young children, has since earned a reputation for hard work as head of the Save the Children Fund.