Princess Anne has taken over from Prince Philip and become the Pony Club’s new president.

The Princess Royal officially took over from her father on 1 January after Prince Phillip decided to step down, although no reason was given for this decision.

Attending her first meeting of the Pony Club Council on 23 January at the Army and Navy Club in Pall Mall, London, Princess Anne was given a talk on the Pony Club and the issues currently facing it by the chairman, Gordon Wesley before meeting with all the members of the Pony Club Council.

The council recorded its thanks to Prince Philip for everything he has done for the organisation over the past five years, in particular his foresight in presenting the Prince Philip Cup, which has provided inspiration, enthusiasm and focus for generations of “ordinary children on ordinary ponies.”

A spokesperson for the Pony Club said: “We are delighted that the Princess Royal has taken over from her fatherand look forward to a long and happy association.”

Sian Thomas BA , has been appointed as chief executive of The Pony Club, the first woman to be appointed to the role since the Pony Club was founded in 1929.

A co-founder in 1986 of venture-capital backed Headline Book Publishing (now Hodder Headline, a subsidiary of W H Smith Plc), and founder marketing director in 1997 of Tim Waterstone’s Daisy & Tom children’s department` stores, Sian is herself a former Pony Club member (Swansea) and currently has five horses at her home near Moreton-in-Marsh.

Chairman Gordon Wesley said: “We are delighted that we have attracted a person of Sian’s calibre and we are sure that her extensive experience will be of huge benefit toThe Pony Club.”

Ms Thomas takes up her position at The Pony Club’s Headquarters at Stoneleigh , Warwicks, on 27 February.