For a few weeks, it looks like we’ll experience the best Queen we never had.

As the King and Princess of Wales are both laid up with medical issues, and the Prince of Wales wrestles with their three young children and the dishwasher while Kate recuperates from abdominal surgery, up steps the indomitable magnificent Princess Royal to bridge the gap.

Reliable, steady, mostly unscarred by scandal, Anne is the regular hardest working high-performer royal – two years ago her 214 public engagements beat Charles’s 181.

Anne deserves a stint at number one. 

The Queen’s second born would have made a brilliant Queen. She’s the type you’d want to sort things out in emergencies. She will keep the firm going with no fuss. 

A head-down and get on with it type, Anne has always put duty and responsibility first in an inimitable no-nonsense straightforward and don’t mess with me way. It’s just a shame she never had a sniff’s chance at the top job full-time.

It was no surprise to hear yesterday morning that when crisis hits the firm, no questions are asked and the daughter born third in line to the throne and now 17th steps into the breech with her stabilising, business-as-usual approach influence.

The 73-year-old Duracell princess is renowned for her long working hours and fortitude in the face of hard graft. Her former private secretary for 17 years described her energy as going on and on, starting her working day early and ending every day at 11pm. Indefatigable, with doses of sparkling humour, forthrightness and taking no prisoners.

She’s long been my favourite royal; the best prospect for decent company over a G&T with her sharp wit and good chat. 

Her quiet contribution for decades has been admirable. What a queen she would have made had things been different.

Her experience no doubt shaped the Queen’s changes to the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 to allow female heirs to maintain their place in the line of succession if a male heir is born. However, the changes had no effect on Anne’s place in the line to the throne.

In a world where the idea of a princess sadly remains Disney, Anne has always been herself, horsey and practical by her own admission, happy to recycle and reuse her outfits for years and never a slave to fashion, designers the tiara trap, leaving the glamour and glitz to others.

She admits she’s “not everyone’s idea of a fairy-tale princess.”

A favourite story is when she turned up at engagement for disabled and autistic children and a little girl told her “You don’t look much like a princess.”

Her answer: “That’s very reassuring.”

A week after her mother’s funeral Anne was spotted carrying her own bags through JFK Airport on a working trip to New York.

Known to be immensely fond of her older brother, as children she was competitive with him and said to be overpowering to the more sensitive Charles.

Rejecting royal titles for her two children, she thought they might be more of a hindrance than a help and expected them to carve their own lives.

She has been undertaking public duties since she was 18, been the victim of a kidnapping attempt – telling the gunman who shot her chauffeur, security officer and a nearby journalist who tried to intervene “not bloody likely” when he ordered her out of her car, been an Olympian and nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, beaten by Michel Gorbachev for bringing peace to the Soviet Union 

A patron of more than 300 charities, military organisations and associations she is active across different sectors.

Frank without being outspoken, she is diplomatic without being bland and vanilla.

A particular favourite Anne action was when Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, visited and the Queen beckoned Anne over as Trump chatted to the Queen and Camilla.  Anne shrugged and held back. Nothing is said, no rudeness or offence cause but no interaction occurs.

The King, with all the underlying noise about dysfunction in the world’s most famous family, must consider himself fortunate that, amid the scandal, public dirty linen washing, estrangement, his sister has remained steadfast to the cause and is prepared to take away his worry at his time of need.

It doesn’t need a royalist to find this woman totally admirable and worthy of a position she has worked so hard to uphold. 

Thanks but no thanks

You know you’re getting on a bit when you still watch TV when it’s scheduled.

An advert break in last Sunday’s Vera – an unashamed guilty pleasure. Brenda Blethyn is sublime – showed what appeared to be a trailer for yet another behind bars prison drama or reality show.

No, it was an advert to recruit prison officers. 

The Ministry of Justice is trying to appeal to people on their sofas by the reality of prison in the hope they will consider a career change to work with people whose lives are in tatters.

The first TV and radio advertising campaign to recruit prison officers describes “An extraordinary job. Done by someone like you”, dealing with violent prisoners and people in distress.

The Ministry of Justice is aiming to hire 5,000 prison officers by the mid-2020s and is struggling.

Nice try but it will take more than a slick TV campaign for roles that are more a vocation than job.