High Commissioner was unimpressed by Blue Peter presenter during 1971 royal visit, new book recalls

Robert Hardman Queen of the World
Robert Hardman’s new book ‘Queen of the World’ includes Princess Anne’s trip to Kenya in 1971 with Blue Peter’s Valerie Singleton.

Princess Anne’s first solo trip to Kenya in February, 1971 is featured in royal biographer Robert Hardman’s new book on royal foreign tours called Queen of the World.

The visit was also an historic occasion for the people of Kenya and the Royal party, which included Prince Charles. They were greeted on arrival by President Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi and while in the country, Princess Anne visited Treetops Hotel where her sister Elizabeth was staying when she learnt of the death of her father King George VI in 1952, making her Queen.

Valerie Singleton and Princess Anne during the Blue Peter Kenya trip in 1971.

In his new book, Hardman recalls High Commissioner Sir Eric Norris’ unimpressed dispatches about the travelling press, in which he said they were “frequently importunate and not so well-behaved as one would wish”.

However, the press pack from Fleet Street was outdone by those real hooligans of the media, Blue Peter, whose presenter, also featured in one of Norris’ notes in which he said: “Valerie Singleton’s many accomplishments do not, I think, include the art of self-effacement.”

Valerie Singleton and Princess Anne on a photo safari in Nairobi National Park for Blue Peter in 1971.

Singleton was with the princess to record a special edition of the popular children’s television programme, Blue Peter on Safari, which was broadcast on Easter Sunday that same year. She referenced the trip in a recent ‘Holiday of a lifetime’ article in the Times.

Blue Peter in Kenya 1971
Valerie Singleton and Princess Anne travelled to Kenyan villages on horseback for the Blue Peter visit in 1971.

Queen of the World by Robert Hardman was published on 6 September by Penguin, with a RRP of £25.

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