It is not often, if ever, that you get to meet royalty. A few weeks ago, Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth, sister to Prince Charles, and aunt to Princes William and Harry, visited a diverse set of Philippine entrepreneurs to hear their stories.
Some of us had connections to the UK, but most did not.
David Charlton, the Founder and CEO of David’s Salon, was present. He left the UK in the late 1970s to manage the hair salon at the now defunct Mandarin Oriental and stayed to create his own styling empire, with 250+ branches and growing.
Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, the Founder at Rags2Riches, the retail brand that utilizes scrap fabric and community weavers to make fashionable women’s accessories.
There was also Joey Concepcion, the head of GoNegosyo and part of the storied Concepcion family of entrepreneurs and industrialists.
So what did it feel like to meet with a princess?
First, there was a lot of protocol defining how to address her (Your royal highness), whether or not to shake her hand (only if she offers first), and whether a female should curtsy (it’s optional). And protocol made it clear that no selfies were allowed.
We all arrived an hour before the Princess Royal and the question we were all asking ourselves was, “How did we get invited to this event?”. Nobody seemed to know, but we all felt privileged to be there.
Once the Princess Royal arrived without any pomp or circumstance, she immediately sat with the first table of entrepreneurs (there were 3 in total) and spent a couple minutes asking them what they did. Her Royal Secretary jotted down notes, probably to report the outcome of her visit back to the Queen. (Probably not, but we all have royal dreams.) The Princess Royal was very engaged – deep diving into almost all of our business with surprising curiosity and insight.
For Kalibrr, our skills-oriented recruitment platform reminded her of the vocational track that many in the UK go through, whose diminution in the last few years she bemoaned.
Within an hour, the visit was over. The Princess Royal was whisked away to her next engagement.
We all sat there thinking, a bit stunned, we just met a royal, and it was a lot more normal than we had ever anticipated.