The Princess Royal has revealed she “hated” taking part in royal walkabouts when a teenager and joked young people today would not volunteer to do them.

Interviewed for the BBC documentary The Queen: Her Commonwealth Story, Anne also describes her mother as being treated as an “honorary man” by male world leaders.

Presented by broadcaster George Alagiah the programme also highlighted difficult Commonwealth moments including the Queen’s 1997 visit to India and the site of the 1919 Amritsar massacre.

Many in India expected an apology from the monarch for Britain’s role in the incident where British Indian troops fired on unarmed protesters.

But the Queen did lay a wreath at the site and during a state banquet at the time described the massacre as a “distressing example” of a difficult episode from our past.

The documentary also featured a photograph of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh among a group of people after an Indian tiger hunt in 1961, with the animal at their feet.

Sir William Heseltine, the Queen’s former private secretary, described in the documentary how he helped introduce walkabouts, but Anne said: “We hated them, can you imagine as teenagers? Hardly the sort of thing you would volunteer to do.

Anne with her brother Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh at a polo match in 1957 (PA)
Anne with her brother Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh at a polo match in 1957 (PA)

“It gets easier but can you imagine? How many people enjoy walking into a room full of people you’ve never met before and then try a street.”

She added laughing: “I don’t think many youngsters would volunteer to do that.

“Nowadays of course there are so many cameras you can’t see the people, especially those who insist on using their iPads to do that, they haven’t even got any heads, so that changes the crowd structure a bit.”

In the documentary screened on Monday night Alagiah walked in the monarch’s footsteps, travelling the world, from Ghana to Australia and from India to South Africa, to explore some of the Queen’s significant Commonwealth moments.

The newsreader, who was born in the Commonwealth country of Sri Lanka, revealed at the start of the year that the cancer he had successfully fought a number of years ago had returned.

Soon after her coronation the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh went on a major Commonwealth tour which meant they did not see their young children, Charles and Anne, for months.

Speaking about that period the princess said:  “Her predecessors had travelled enormously, that was the expectation.

“And they’d been away for very long times and that again was part of the expectation.

“And of course it was made worse by her father dying so early on in her career that she didn’t have the option really to spend more time at home.”

The documentary examined the Queen’s position as a female head of state who has reigned for more than 65 years and is highly respected by male Commonwealth leaders.

Anne said: “Her length of time in (her) position and her ability to listen and talk to those leaders is virtually unique.

“She’s been in that situation of being an honorary man for a very long time. You know people get used to the fact maybe you can have a conversation about things which they otherwise wouldn’t talk to women about. “