Princess Anne admits that she would not have enjoyed competing at London 2012 amid the pressures of a relentless media spotlight.
She competed in eventing at Montreal 1976 and is president of the British Olympic Association.
In an exclusive interview with BBC sports editor David Bond, she said: "I would have found it really difficult, I suspect, to do it on a home patch.
"I'd hate to be doing it now - that's all I can tell you. It's got worse."
Asked whether she was referring to the pressures involved, she replied: "I think there's so much, yes, to everybody.
"Once upon a time, it would have been for one or two of the athletes who were high profile and the BOA could help support and bring them on.
"All the things the electronic media have opened up simply didn't exist when I was doing it. Some people do find it a help I am sure but I suspect, for others, that's a difficult level of intrusion to manage."
Her daughter Zara Phillips is hoping to represent Great Britain's eventing team at London 2012.
On the perception that the Games are an extravagance, Princess Anne said: "When you think about the time when the decision was made and the bid was going through, how well everything was going and how well everyone thought they were - that's quite a dramatic difference.
"But having that focus of the games which isn't a moveable feast - it has to be done - there are also some advantages in having that.
"There has been an awful lot of employment maintained and, to some extent, increased largely as a result of the games taking place.
"I understand that it looks like an extravagance but I think, if they recognised the way a lot of that money has been spent, it has made quite a constructive impact on people's lives."