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Princess Anne has been “treated as an honorary man” for “a lot” of her life.
The 71-year-old royal – who competed in three-day eventing at the 1976 Olympic Games – has moved from second in line to the throne to 17th behind her younger brothers and the sons and grandchildren of her siblings, but she insisted her gender has never held her back.
She told Australian Woman’s Weekly magazine: "I have been treated as an honorary man for a lot of my life. I did take part in a sport which didn't have any gender balance. It was open to both, end of story.
“So, I had the benefit of being treated equally … although oddly enough when I first went to Australia I found a difference, the men went down one end of the room and the women went up the other. I didn't think that was entirely appropriate."
In 1970, Anne joined her parents, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, on a tour of Australia and she recalled how she had to balance her official engagements with her sports training.
She said: "I was race riding at the time and I actually went out and rode for three days.
“From my perspective it was trying to keep fit because I was coming back to riding at home so I didn't really want to spend a week sitting on my backside doing nothing.
“I rode a horse that had been in the Australian [1968 Mexico Olympics] team in Centennial Park in Sydney. That was, in retrospect, one of the bravest things I've ever done but he was a lovely horse. [Why brave?] Because I jumped some of the fences there.”
Anne’s elder brother, Prince Charles, spent two terms at Timbertop school in Geelong, Australia, when he was 17, and the princess admitted she “envied” her sibling for doing so.
She said: “We did go to his school in Geelong and I had a chance to meet some of his friends
"I rather envied him that opportunity, I have to say. I could have done with seeing a bit more [of Australia]."