Princess Anne told photographers to 'naff off' after taking this snap but according to some - this isn't the whole story

Princess Annes 'naff off' incident was widely reported to have happened after she was photographed during an embarrassing moment

Queen Elizbeth II, Princess Anne and Henry Herbert, 7th Earl of Carnarvon (1924-2001), racing manager to Queen Elizabeth II, watching the horseracing at the Derby meeting, at Epsom racecourse, in Epsom, Surrey, England, Great Britain, 1 June 1988. The Queen is wearing a yellow hat trimmed with white flowers, designed by milliner Frederick Fox.
(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images)

Princess Annes 'naff off' rebuke to baying photographers is the stuff of legend. According to many sources, the incident happened after she was photographed falling off her horse in 1982 but since then it's been claimed that the infamous eff you to the paps may have gone very differently - if it even happened at all.


HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, riding Stevie B falls at the water jump during the cross country equestrian event at the Badminton Horse Trials on 1st May 1982 in Badminton Park, Gloucestershire, England. It was this fall that led to the often quoted 'naff off' comment made by Her Royal Highness to photographers.

(Image credit: Bob Martin/Getty Images)

As Prince Harry recently reminded the general public, the Royal Family's motto is, "don't complain, don't explain," and as the most popular royal shows - keeping schtum is the best policy. That being said even Princess Anne, despite being known for her stiff upper lip persona, has lost her cool with photographers in her lifetime.

Unsurprisingly for the former Olympian and passionate horsewoman, it was a photo of a rather unfortunate tumble during a competition that's believed to have ticked her off. The image in question sees the Princess falling off her horse at the water jump during the cross-country equestrian event at the Badminton Horse Trials back in 1982.

Discussing the incident on a 2002 documentary titled The Real Princess Anne, Steve Wood, one of the photographers that faced the wrath of the Princess Royal, spilled the beans. Steve was, at the time, the royal photographer for the Daily Express. “It’s the naff off picture," he explained, "when she lost it and told me to naff off, and that created a storm.”

Princess Anne, Princess Royal arrives for the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

(Image credit: GARETH FULLER/AFP via Getty Images)

Per the Daily Express, (opens in new tab) his colleague Ashley Walton revealed a slightly different version of events that may actually be more shocking. “The truth is, we made up the ‘naff’ word to cover up another word," he admitted. “I think that might have been in the conversation, but there were a lot of other ‘f off’ words at the time.”

Her tough, no-nonsense attitude went so far as standing up for herself during seriously dangerous situations. Back in 1974, during an attempted kidnapping, it's alleged that the Princess was having absolutely none of it. Having shot both her protection officer and driver, the would-be kidnapper is alleged to have said, "I want £2M, will you get out of the car?" 

Princess Anne's hilarious reaction was detailed in The Secret Royals: Spying and the Crown, from Victoria to Diana. (opens in new tab) The book alleges that HRH simply responded, "not bloody likely, and I haven’t got £2M." She then argued with the man for a period of time as he shot randomly at onlookers who tried to find out what on earth was going on. Needless to say - the kidnapping wasn't a success.

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.