Princess Anne has recalled sneaking out of Buckingham Palace in the 1970s to visit Silverstone to try her hand at driving race cars with Sir Jackie Stewart in a video call for his dementia charity.
The Princess Royal, 70, who lives at her Gatcombe Estate in Gloucester, joined the Formula 1 champion, 81, for a virtual meeting in which they reminisced about their enduring friendship.
In a call recorded to support his Race Against Dementia charity and shared yesterday online, the close friends laughed as they recalled a trip to Silverstone in the early 1970s which ‘nobody at Buckingham Palace knew about’.
Sir Jackie said the royal appeared ‘disappointed’ to be told he would be driving, adding: ‘I finally got out of the car and off you went and we could hardly get you out of the car after that, God knows how many laps you did.’
Princess Anne, 70, has recalled sneaking out of Buckingham Palace to visit Silverstone to try her hand at racing with Sir Jackie Stewart in a video call for his dementia charity
The pair discussed meeting in December 1971 at an awards ceremony, and shared a laugh as they recalled how the Princess had been late because she was cleaning out the stables.
Princess Anne said: ‘This was a long time ago, it’s a minor miracle we’re still here.’
She joked about her work ethic regarding the care of horses, which she said had been drummed into her by the Queen, 94.
She said: ‘We were bought up that way. My mother was very keen that we do all these things, not just have a pony tucked up. We were bought up to do the whole job.’
During the call, the two reminisced about their enduring friendship after meeting for the first time in December 1971
Princess Anne confessed she is ‘not the world’s best passenger’ during the chatty discussion with Sir Jackie
They went on to remember a trip to Silverstone together, with Sir Jackie saying that when he arrived to pick her up at Windsor, the Princess was ‘rather disappointed’ to be told that he would be driving.
He explained: ‘That hasn’t changed if I may say so, you drive more than any other lady I know.
‘You were always keen to be behind the wheel, that was for sure.’
Sir Jackie recalled driving her around in ‘a very hot British touring championship car’ before the royal took the wheel.
The close friendship of Sir Jackie Stewart and the Princess Royal
The close friends reminisced about their years of knowing one another after meeting at an award’s ceremony in 1971 (pictured, at the ceremony)
1969 – Sir Jackie won his first Formula One world championship
1971 – Sir Jackie won his second world championship. He was also made an OBE.
The Princess Royal won a gold medal at the European Eventing Championships and was named the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.
The pair meet when they were named Daily Express Sportswoman and Sportsman of the year at the Savoy Hotel
1973 – Sir Jackie won third F1 world championship and was named the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year
1975 – Princess won two silver medals at the European Eventing Championships
1976 – Sshe became the first member of the Royal Family to compete in the Olympics, riding the Queen’s horse, Goodwill, in the equestrian three-day event
2001 – Sir Jackie received a knighthood
He said: ‘I was giving you a heads up because racing tracks are very wired, and it’s not like you can see what speed you are entering corners, and of course you didn’t need to be told all of that.’
The royal laughed: ‘I’ll take your word for that. Not being the world’s best passenger, I just didn’t feel well being driven.
‘That’s my excuse, I was never a good passenger just because of the way I felt, not because of the quality of the driver, honest.’
She added: ‘You took us round first and then you let us loose.’
Sir Jackie recalled that ‘nobody from Buckingham Palace knew’ Princess Anne would be visiting Silverstone to drive race cars
Sir Jackie went on to recall a ‘wonderful’ photograph of the Princess sitting in the Tyrrell 003, which he had initially planned to sell.
But he said Walter Hayes, who was the PR executive for Ford who first signed the then-relatively unknown Sir Jackie in 1965, persuaded him not to.
He added: ‘Because nobody, it seemed to be at that time, from Buckingham Palace downwards, knew that you would have been at Silverstone driving racing cars, so he managed to get it stopped.’
During the call, the pair also discussed trips to Gleneagles for pigeon shooting events and learning to drive on go-karts.
The pair have maintained a close friendship over the years, with Sir Jackie Stewart regularly seen attending church at Sandringham alongside the Princess Royal
Princess Anne went on to speak of her pride in her daughter’s equestrian success and said being able to present her with the silver medal at the London Olympics in 2012 was ‘a treat.’
She said: ‘It’s never easy to follow on if your parents have been successful in a sport.
‘I often wondered if it was something she really wanted to do but she was naturally talented and she applied herself.’
After meeting at the awards ceremony in 1971, the pair quickly became friends and have remained close, with Jackie’s wife Lady Stewart godmother to the Princess’s daughter, Zara Tindall.
Sir Jackie has regularly been seen attending church with Princess Anne at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham during the festive season over the years.