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Sunday, 31 December, 2000, 14:08 GMT
Princess laughs off flower incident
Royals at Sandringham
Well-wishers offered flowers to the family on Christmas Day
The Princess Royal has joked with well-wishers as they handed her bouquets, almost a week after she was accused of hurting a pensioner's feelings over a floral tribute.

On Christmas Day, Princess Anne took a basket of flowers made by Mary Halfpenny, 75, who had waited for hours outside a church at Sandringham, and said: "What a ridiculous thing to do."

The princess was again offered flowers as she left the same church after this Sunday's service. This time she accepted them with a smile and a wry joke.

Princess Royal, accompanied by her husband and the Duke of Edinburgh
Keeping out of trouble: The princess arrives at Sandringham on Sunday
"You are taking a big risk, you know," she told Mary Hallam, 88, from Todmorden, West Yorkshire, as she offered her a bouquet.

"I don't want to upset anyone," she added, accepting a bunch of red roses from 43-year-old Sheila Clark, from Glasgow.

Well-wisher Mary Relph, of Shouldham, Norfolk, who was standing nearby told the princess: "You are doing a great job."

Anne replied: "I wish I could believe that."

Last week a spokesman for the princess apologised for any offence caused to Mrs Halfpenny.

The incident had brought a sour note to the traditional celebration at St Mary Magdalen church on the Sandringham Estate.

'Hurtful' comment

Mrs Halfpenny said at the time: "It was a really hurtful thing to say. I've made baskets of flowers for the Queen and she has always said how nice they are.

"It takes a long time, about three hours, to make a basket of flowers and it costs me about 10.

"I wanted Prince Harry to give the basket to the Queen Mother for me but Princess Anne just snatched it very roughly."

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said later: "The Princess Royal meets thousands of people every year and it is clear that today there has been a misunderstanding of some kind."

The Princess Royal is also said to have told her nieces, Princess Beatrice, 12, and her 10-year-old sister Princess Eugenie, to "get a move on" and not to take flowers from well-wishers.

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Queen's Christmas Message
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