Princess Anne’s unlikely career after eyeing alternative path: ‘Would’ve been an engineer’

Princess Anne 'does the heavy lifting' says Palmer

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Today marks Princess Anne’s 72nd birthday, with goodwill wished across the globe and the Commonwealth. Among those celebrating the occasion is Anne’s mother, the Queen and the Royal Family, whose Twitter account tweeted: “Wishing The Princess Royal a happy birthday today!” Accompanying the message was a picture of Anne taken earlier this year when she hosted The Not Forgotten Association Garden Party, seen chatting with her smiling guests during the interaction.

Other members of The Firm to post included Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, who said: “Wishing a very happy birthday to The Princess Royal today!”

Anne is often cited as the favourite royal of fans, praised for her incredible work ethic and ability to chat to the public with ease.

But Anne once recalled how a life in the public eye was not necessarily what she wanted.

According to a 2019 Vanity Fair interview, she had hoped to become an engineer.

Royal correspondent Katie Nicholl wrote: “Had she not been a royal, she says she would have been an engineer.”

Anne said: “The practicalities of how things work, I think, was always interesting as far as I was concerned.

“But I think it was a little bit early in that sort of scheme of things to have gone down that route.”

Born in 1950, Anne may have been referring to the difficult opportunities women once had in getting involved within the engineering industry, an issue that was rife for her generation.

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Ms Nicholl explained: “Instead she has made a point of championing women in her role as patron of Women into Science and Engineering.”

Anne added: “I’ve certainly enjoyed being part of trying to encourage more girls to look at engineering as a realistic career.”

Along with her career as a royal, she also made a name for herself as a brilliant horse rider, keeping up a longstanding tradition of riding within the Royal Family.

She was so good that her abilities were recognised by Team GB and she was selected to represent her nation at the 1976 Olympics, in Montreal.

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Her daughter Zara Tindall also followed in her footsteps when she appeared for Team GB at the London 2012 games, winning silver in the team event.

Anne now serves as president of the British Olympic Association and is a member of the International Olympic Committee.

She reflected on her own journey to the Olympics last year as she sent a message to competitors ahead of the Tokyo games.

In a video, the royal said: “I do remember from my own Olympic journey, the anticipation and excitement of stepping onto the Olympic stage.

“I know that you have all worked incredibly hard for this moment, during the most challenging of times.

“This is your Olympics… Savour it, and above all, enjoy it.”

The princess’s love of horses once left her father, the late Prince Philip, to remark that “if it doesn’t fart or eat hay, [Anne] isn’t interested”.

Even her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, was an acclaimed equestrian, winning gold as part of the British team in 1972’s Olympics.

Other royals from around the world to compete at the Olympics include Princess Charlene of Monaco, who appeared at the Sydney games in 2000 in the swimming event.

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