The Royals have been copping a lot of rotten eggs recently, but have no doubt I have maximum respect, admiration and affection for Queen Elizabeth II.
I thought it was time for a good news story about a member of the Royal Family.
Back in the good old days, when I was PR Director for Jaguar Rover Australia, one of the highlights of our year was the chance to pilot Range Rovers with some of our best mates in the media into the uninhabited interior of Australia.
It is such beautiful country, and although we stuck to ‘made tracks’ they really tested the Range Rovers’ legendary long-travel suspension, mainly because most of the areas we frequented were national parks, and not on the receiving end of much road maintenance. Our permits and generous donations allowed us pretty much free range to explore the country, but the highlight was always the overnight camp.
The programs were put together by a couple of dedicated off-road tragics we were lucky to have in the company - my great friends Russell Turnham (left), and his partner-in-crime, Owen Peake (right).
What these two haven’t done, or haven’t experienced in Range Rovers isn’t worth writing about.
Russell was our chief marketing manager, and Owen was ostensibly the Victorian PR manager, but any chance these two could put together a serious off-road expedition, they were off into some of the wildest terrain this country offers.
However, one of the most important elements of our annual treks into the wilderness each year was our guest of honour, Captain Mark Phillips. He was more than happy to join whatever adventure we had planned.
He was fun, and I enjoyed his company, and he’s not only a highly medalled equestrian, he could very competently guide a Range Rover through the toughest tests of the vehicle’s famous capabilities.
One year, when sadly I was on a visit to Britain, Mark Phillips was joined by his then wife, the Princess Royal. As I wasn’t on hand to enjoy the company of the royal couple, Russell made sure we all got to hear about the conviviality and sense of fun that Princess Anne brought to the event. As Russell says: “She’s quite a gal (lady).”
I’m sure Russell won’t mind me handing over the story-telling to him …….
Easy? Not necessarily! First yours truly had to inspect the area with the NPWS’s Head Ranger for the South Coast, who was the source of the rumoured goanna statistic and all-round good guy.
Some years later in my role as Global Marketing Director for Land Rover I had the opportunity to meet Princess Anne on numerous other occasions, and in other capacities, some formal some not so.