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HRH GRINCH; How the princess stole an old woman's Christmas.

Byline: ANNA SMITH

GRUMPY Princess Anne did a good impression of The Grinch yesterday as the royals arrived for church at Sandringham.

And just like the character in the hit children's movie, sour-faced Anne ruined the festive spirit for hundreds of well-wishers.

The rude royal snatched a basket of flowers made by an old woman and snapped: "What a ridiculous thing to do."

Crowds who had queued in freezing cold for hours to catch a glimpse of the royal party were aghast as she urged her nieces Beatrice and Eugenie to "get a move on" and stop collecting flowers.

The Princess Royal, despite being patron of the Save the Children Fund, seemed to have left her Christmas spirit at home .

Pensioner Mary Halfpenny had waited in the cold for nearly three hours to hand over a basket of flowers she had made herself.

She wanted to give them to Prince Harry to give to the Queen Mother.

But before she had the chance, Anne grabbed the basket and stung her with the cutting remark - just as if she were copying a scene from How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Upset Mary, 75, who had travelled from her home in Leicestershire, said later: "She was very hurtful. What is most upsetting is that I took such a long time to make the basket.

"I bought the freesias and carnations and sewed a ribbon on basket by hand. It takes a long time, about three hours, to make a basket of flowers and it cost me about pounds 10.

"In the past, The Queen has congratulated me on my baskets of flowers.

"Christmas is for friendship but Princess Anne has clearly forgetten the meaning of Christmas.

"I was calling over to Prince Harry to ask him to take the basket when princess Anne came up, grabbed the basket and said: "What a ridiculous thing to do".

"It sounded like she was making a comment about the effort I had gone to. It was an awful thing to say."

The snub came as crowds waited outside the tiny 16th Century St Mary Magdalene church on The Queen's private Sandringham estate to wish the royals a merry Christmas.

Anne compounded the upset by snapping at Princesses Beatrice, 12, and Eugenie, 10, in front of the crowd.

Emily Loughlin said: "The two girls were busy collecting flowers from people. I handed presents to the girls and asked them to give two books to William and Harry. But Princess Anne looked in a bad temper and I heard her say to them, 'Come on, hurry up.'"

Lesley Hirst, 53, a retired teacher who had travelled from Lancaster to see the royals, said afterwards: "Princess Anne was exceedingly rude.

"She just snatched the basket from my friend. A lot of people queued from six o'clock in the morning, but when the royals came out of church they just charged off. I was not impressed.

"I have been a royal fan since I was five. This was the first time I have been here, but I won't come again."

Twenty members of the Royal Family turned out for the 40-minute service, including The Queen and Prince Philip, Prince Charles, his sons William ands Harry and Prince Andrew and his daughters Beatrice and Eugenie.

Anne's daughter, Zara Phillips, 19, making her first public appearance since being involved in a car accident last Friday, showed two cuts on her face, despite wearing a large designer hat which covered her forehead.

The notable absentee yesterday was Princess Margaret, who is still suffering after scalding her legs in a boiling hot bath earlier this year.

Most people in the crowd had been waiting to see the Queen Mother, who could clearly teach her granddaughter a thing or two about dealing with one's subjects.

Recovering from a broken collar bone, she moved forward and lingered to collect flowers from toddlers and young children after the service.

She arrived in a golf buggy, then walked into the church holding Prince Charles's arm.

A royal source revealed earlier that The Queen had advised her to stay at home because it was too cold to go out. But she still delighted the crowds by turning up in an electric blue suit and matching hat.

The Queen and Queen Mother later formed a double act after the service to collect flowers, including a bouquet from Adam Panter, two, from nearby King's Lynn, Norfolk.

Royal heart-throb William, just back from Chile, shook hands and collected bouquets. But the royals who made the greatest effort to chat to well-wishers were Edward and wife Sophie. Other royals included Princess Margaret's daughter Sarah and Viscount Linley and his wife.

Princess Anne's husband, Commodore Tim Laurence and son Peter Phillips, also joined the ranks.

But many people in the crowd were left bitterly disappointed after the royals failed to collect all the flowers that had been brought for them.

Later, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "Obviously, somewhere along the line, there has been a misunderstanding.

"I am sure that the Princess Royal had no intention of being rude and would be concerned if she had caused any upset."

PRINCESS Alice, dowager Duchess of Gloucester, is 99 years' old today.

The Queen's aunt, who lives at Kensington Palace, is just one year away from becoming the second royal to reach 100, along with the Queen Mother.

HOW THE GRUMPS SQUARE UP

The Grinch is famous for having a green face and fur

The Princess Royal is famous for having blue blood

The Grinch lives in a smelly old rubbish tip

The Princess has a selection of luxurious palaces she can visit any time

The Grinch is the most unsporting person in Whoville

The Princess was once voted Britain's Sports Personality of the Year

The Grinch tried to spoil Christmas but ended up making people happy

The Princess met happy people and ended up spoiling their Christmas
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 26, 2000
Words:982
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