Princess Anne turns 70: The Princess Royal’s many visits to Shropshire

While the late Princess of Wales may have come out top in the style stakes, the bluff, cardigan-wearing Princess Royal has built up a reputation as one of the hardest working members of the Royal Family.

The Queen’s only daughter, who turns 70 today, is patron of more than 200 organisations, and is chancellor of three universities, including Harper Adams in Edgmond, near Newport.

Princess Anne at the West Mid Show in Shrewsbury in 1991

While the Princess took up her role at Harper Adams in 2013, she has been a familiar figure in and around Shropshire for decades.

Princess Anne opens Telford Ice Rink in October, 1984.

Her first official duty was to open an educational and training centre in the county as a fresh-faced teenager in 1969.

Princess Anne at the opening of Oswestry Leisure Centre in November, 1976

The Princess drove a double-decker bus when she officially opened the Multi Occupational Training and Education Centre, run by the Road Transport Industry Training Board, at High Ercall, near Telford, in September 1969.

There were more thrills when she returned to the centre 20 years later, this time taking a Ford Cortina with treadless tyres on a spin around the skid pan.

HRH Princess Anne chats with well-wishers during her visit to open the Cavalier Centre in Much Wenlock

The most obvious reminder of one of her connections to the county is Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital, which was named in honour of Anne when she performed the official opening in February 1990.

Princess Anne flicks through the visitors book after adding her signature at the official opening of Telford’s new hospital in February, 1990, when it was renamed the Princess Royal Hospital

During the visit, the Princess spent an hour touring the £27 million complex, and chatted to 13-year-old patient Dawn Taylor and a student nurse. As she left, she was given a tape of two songs recorded by 14-year-old cystic fibrosis sufferer Nigel Brown.

Princess Anne at Berriewood, near Shrewsbury escorted by Rea Valley Group chairman Mary Anne Richey, with disabled riders in the indoor school.

Princess Anne officially opened Oswestry Leisure Centre in College Road in November, 1976. During the visit she chatted with young swimmers, asking them what the water was like.

She has enjoyed closed links with Harper Adams agricultural college – now a university – for many years, and in 2013 was appointed its chancellor.

Dressed in full academic regalia for her role as vice-chancellor of Harper Adams University, Princess Anne is pictured leaving St Nicolas’s Church

The Princess has a long-held interest in farming, and recently spoke out in favour of genetically modified crops. Anne visited Harper Adams in 2018 to mark its 200th anniversary, where she addressed a symposium before heading to a special ceremony at St Nicholas’s Church.

Underlining her interest in agriculture, the Princess attended the West Mid Show in 1991, where she was taken on a tour of the many different breeds of sheep.

Princess Anne signs the visitors’ book at Harper Adams in 2018

The Princess was on hand to mark another important milestone in the county’s history in 1984 when she officially opened Telford Ice Rink, a venue which truly put the emerging new town firmly on the sporting map as the home to Telford Tigers ice hockey team.

In her younger days, Anne was well known for her equestrian skills, becoming the first member of the Royal Family to compete in the Olympics.

Princess Anne meets sudent Usama Tayyab during a visit to Harper Adams in 2018

Her love of horses also regularly brought her into the county, whether competing – as she did at the 1986 horse trials at Downton Castle near Ludlow – or through her work as president of the Riding for the Disabled charity.

Only last year, she opened the charity’s Cavalier Centre, near Much Wenlock, and in 1998 she met with members of the charity’s Rea Valley group at Berriewood Riding School in Condover, near Shrewsbury.

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