Princess Anne, also known as the Princess Royal, has been the ambassador of the Riding for the Disabled Association for the last 48 years, and the charity has only been in action for 50 in total.
Taking part in activities to do with the association’s national championships on today’s Countryfile, John Craven was given the opportunity to interview the ambassador.
Speaking to another member of staff, John was first told on the BBC programme: “Her royal highness Princess Anne has been very involved from the very start.
“She gives enormous amount of her time and energy to supporting the organisation and our riders and our volunteers are always delighted to come and meet her and her ability to come and energise and enthuse and share the success of what we do is fantastic.”
“The Princess Royal is not only a keen horsewoman she’s also a leader in the equestrian world,” John then introduced. “By her early 20s she was one of the UK’s leading three-day eventers, three European championship medals under her belt.
“She took the title Sports Personality of the Year in 1971, and was the first member of the British Royal Family to compete as an Olympian.”
Following a rousing interview with the royal, John then asked casually: “Do you still ride?”
“I ride at home yes,” Princess Anne answered, before taking a moment to consider what the presenter had asked.
“When you say am I still riding…” the royal went on. “Her Majesty is still riding.
“So come on, I’ve got a year or two to go here before…” she trailed off scoldingly.
Princess Anne also shed light on why she thinks the association is so important, as John noted: “You gave a very high profile to this venture really didn’t you, because you weren’t just a royal name on the top of a letter head, you were very very hands-on.”
“It was easy to promote a slightly different benefits of horses and ponies to what I suppose people thought of now as a sports animal rather than a working animal,” Anne replied. “And it was important that people recognised that it had other values, which it could really change people’s lives.
“You didn’t have to want to be an Olympic athlete for that to happen. And that was really important, just being around them. And all the things that went on with them.
“How much have attitudes changed towards disabled people and their abilities over the last 50 years?” John asked.
“I think there’s a much greater understanding, and a range of abilities,” the Princess mused. “It’s not about what you can’t do it is about what you can, something the RDA was very keen to point out.
“That sent a message to a lot of people that it was worth trying and you could be just as inspired by different sports and different activities.
“Whatever your ability was, if you had a skill or an interest, it was for you.”
Asked what kinds of things there were that the disabled association could have never imagined before, the royal shared: “Showjumping has become part of our sporting background, and carriage driving which is more developed than it’s ever been.
“We’ve got a whole range of sporting activities now. Events like this do raise the profile of what you can achieve,” Princess Anne added.
Countryfile continues Sundays on BBC One.