Princess Anne: Clare Balding talked ‘absolute gibberish’ to royal and ‘mucked up’ curtsy

Clare Balding asks Matthew Richards about 'phenomenal' third leg

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Presenter Clare, 50, is a popular face on British TV screens, known for fronting a variety of sports programmes. The broadcaster and former amateur jockey is currently presenting coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Clare is fresh off the back of presenting coverage of the Olympic Games for BBC Sport. Channel 4 has secured the Paralympics coverage, with the network promising some 1,300 hours of sport during the Games.

The channel’s presenting line-up features several familiar faces including ex-wheelchair basketball player Ade Adepitan and former “BBC Breakfast” host Steph McGovern.

Clare is known for her assured on-screen persona, however unearthed comments from the star reveal how she once fell apart at a public event.

The presenter was receiving an OBE from Princess Anne in 2013 for her “services to broadcasting and journalism”.

However, Clare revealed that she was a bag of nerves as she accepted her award from the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle.

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Speaking after the ceremony she said: “I got terribly nervous about this, I’ve been pretty busy then suddenly yesterday I thought ‘gosh I’d better make sure everything’s in order for tomorrow’”.

“I’m still a bit shaky now, I talked absolute gibberish, absolute gibberish – I was just hopeless.

“Mucked my curtsy up, nearly fell over as I turned and walked away, messed up properly, but luckily not too many people had seen that.”

Clare attended the investiture ceremony with her long-term partner, Alice Arnold, whom she later married.

She added: “This is an incredible personal moment and it’s lovely to have this recognition.

“But I feel the job that I do, I get so much satisfaction from it and I enjoy it so much and I want to keep challenging myself and try to make myself a better broadcaster.”

As well as the Olympics, Clare has hosted “Countryfile”, “Crufts” and “BBC Sports Personality of the Year”.

She also has more than two decades experience presenting horse racing for the BBC and Channel 4.

The sport and its royal associations run in the family, with Clare’s grandfather, father and brother all having trained racehorses for the Queen.

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Her father, the renowned trainer Ian Balding, helped guide Mill Reef to victory at the Epsom Derby in 1971.

Clare has previously opened up about her association to royalty, with her maternal grandmother, Priscilla Hastings, descended from the Earls of Derby.

The presenter has also recounted having breakfast with the Queen as the monarch came to visit her horses trained by Ian.

Clare’s own amateur horse-racing career also saw her rub shoulders with Princess Anne, the Queen’s daughter.

Her encounter with Anne while receiving her OBE made her think of a clash she had with the royal in 1989.

Clare said: “I’ve known the Princess Royal a long time, we rode against each other as amateur jockeys.

“We had an incident at Beverley racecourse many years ago so this feels like the story coming full circle in a nice way.

“I bumped her very badly in a race – it was all my fault. I think it’s quite a funny incident and I wrote about it in my book.”
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