WITH the floors polished and the windows gleaming, MAN ERF UK was ready to welcome its very special guest.

Princess Anne was at the company's Swindon headquarters yesterday to find out about a Transaid project they have been working on in Africa.

And as soon as the initial nerves had worn off, the employees were soon laughing and joking with their royal visitor.

The Princess Royal is patron of Transaid, a road transport charity which provides transport solutions for the developing world.

MAN ERF UK is the charity's biggest supporter and plays an active role in many of its projects, such as Cycle Malawi and the motorcycle ambulance trailer project which is now establishing itself in Nigeria.

The firm invited the princess to pay it a visit and was delighted when she accepted. After landing in her private helicopter in Faringdon Road Park, the princess was driven in a silver BMW X5 to the Blagrove industrial estate with a team of bodyguards close by.

Wearing a green-grey suit and red polo neck, she was smiling as she arrived.

The princess was there to see the results of the Transaid projects and to meet the people behind them.

One of those was 46-year-old Paul Saddler, of Wootton Bassett, who got the chance to speak to the princess during her tour of the building.

Mr Saddler, a regional manager, went to Nigeria in April to help develop professional driving standards there.

"I explained to Princess Anne that there were no standards before we went out so we had to start from scratch," he said.

"There are no roads so we were working with motorbikes in a very primitive area.

"She seemed to be really interested in the project and asked lots of questions, although she did say she thought motorbikes were lethal so I had a joke with her and said they're a lot safer than horses but she disagreed."

He added: "I was in the RAF so had seen some of the royals before but I'd never met the princess. She was very nice."

Because Transaid is a charity, MAN ERF UK helps it to raise funds, and in September Steve Jones, a product manager from Cheshire, cycled 300 miles across Malawi.

"I was nervous before I met the princess but she's so down to earth and friendly there was no need to be," he said.

"We chatted about the ride and she asked me how hot it was and how difficult it was."

After she had met some of the company's young apprentices, who silently formed a queue to meet her, the princess signed the company's visitor book.

Her brother, Prince Andrew, signed the same book during his visit in September last year.

Des Evans, chief executive officer at MAN ERF UK, was thrilled at how well the day went.

"Princess Anne is extremely knowledgeable about what's happening in the developing world and it was good to be able to show her how we have been making a difference in Africa," he said.