As the Princess Royal turns 70 this weekend, Madeleine Silver charts an equestrian career that threw eventing into the spotlight as she became the first member of the royal family to compete at an Olympic Games
“It was a fairy story ending,” read the 1971 Horse & Hound report of Princess Anne’s eventing victory at the European Championships at Burghley. “Of course, everyone knows now that the Princess Royal won the individual championship, but only those who were there can appreciate the extent of the popularity of her victory, or the tension that gripped the thronged arena during her jumping round on Sunday.”
The reporter WW Thomson’s gushing account of the 21-year-old’s performance aboard Doublet perhaps reflected a nation gripped by this sporting tale; a rapid rise to the top, a home-bred destined to be a polo pony and a mother who happened to be The Queen.
“This really was a fabulous event. The Queen and Prince Philip were there, the weather was right, the winners were right, and Princess Anne not only beat the best in Europe, but trounced them,” it read.
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