Anne ‘asked pertinent questions’ about women in WW2 navy, says veteran

Anne ‘asked pertinent questions’ about women in WW2 navy, says veteran

The Princess Royal “asked pertinent questions” at a Buckingham Palace garden party about the work of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS), a Second World War veteran said.

The event on Friday was attended by 2,000 beneficiaries of The Not Forgotten Association which provides entertainment, leisure and recreation for ex-servicemen and women and serving personnel with disabilities, illness or injuries.

Anne has been the patron of the charity, which supported more than 12,000 individuals last year, since 2000.

Accompanied by her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the royal couple stood on the steps of the garden to observe the national anthem, before greeting representatives and beneficiaries of the organisation.

The Princess Royal speaking to D Day veterans at a garden party at Buckingham Palace
The Princess Royal spoke to D-Day veterans at a garden party at Buckingham Palace (Victoria Jones/PA)

Anne, wearing a beige dress and jacket with cream gloves and a pearl necklace, smiled and laughed as she shook hands and spoke with attendees including veterans from all services.

Marie Scott, 97, who lives near Kingston-upon-Thames in Surrey, worked as a radio operator on D-Day at 17 years old to relay messages to the frontline on the beaches in France.

She spoke with the princess about her time in the WRNS.

Ms Scott said: “She asked me about my service.

“I told her where I was but she’d clearly heard of Fort Southwick because she asked pertinent questions so it was very interesting.”

Of her experience using a radio for the first time to speak to men on the frontline, Ms Scott told the PA news agency: “When I lifted my lever I had the shock of my life because when he lifted his lever to respond, I was in the middle of the war.

“I could hear rapid machine gun fire, heavier cannon fire, bombs dropping, men shouting orders, men screaming – it was horrifying.

“This was war, and it was coming through my headphones.”

The Princess Royal smiling at a garden party at Buckingham Palace
The Princess Royal laughed with veterans at a Buckingham Palace garden party (Victoria Jones/PA)

Patricia Owtram, 100, who also served in the WRNS as a linguist, said of her conversation with the princess: “We didn’t get the chance to have a long chat exactly but of course she knew all about the WRNS, so she asks the right questions.

“I think I may have told her we’ve just been over in France on a holiday, but we were in Normandy and I talked to a school there, in English I’m glad to say, and that was a very interesting experience.”

The princess greeted a row of D-Day veterans that had fought in France and asked whether they planned to travel back to Normandy to commemorate the upcoming 80th anniversary of the landings.

As the bagpipes played, Anne asked an elderly veteran who was having difficulty hearing her speak whether he could hear the music being performed.

Anne said: “Can you hear the band? No? That’s very bad luck!”

Guests enjoyed ice cream and other refreshments in the sun and were joined by celebrity supporters of the charity including musician and presenter Tony Blackburn.