The Princess Royal has received an honorary degree for a lifetime of charity work – from her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cornwall.

Camilla, chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, joked there would be “no talk of rivalry” as she presented the honour to Anne, who is chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.

Anne, who is involved with 300 charities in the UK and overseas, including serving as patron of Save the Children, received a Doctor of Laws in a ceremony at the university’s Elphinstone Hall on Tuesday.

Princess Royal honorary degree
Camilla (left) joked there would be no rivalry between her and Anne (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Camilla, known as the Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, said: “I am not sure if there is a collective noun for chancellors but my sister-in-law is, of course, also chancellor of another great Scottish university, the University of Edinburgh.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we shall have no talk of rivalry today.

“But I might just casually observe that, while we are to celebrate our 525th birthday next month, the University of Edinburgh is comparatively youthful – a mere 437-years-old.”

The Princess Royal said it was a “real honour” to be recognised by the university.

She undertook her first public engagement at the age of 18 and since then has had one of the busiest working schedules of any member of the royal family.

In her speech, Anne paid tribute to fellow honorary degree recipient Professor Janet Darbyshire, recognised for her work in clinical sciences, who she said she had met through Save the Children.

Previously director of the Medical Research Council clinical trials unit, Ms Darbyshire’s study of diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis has led to improvements in prevention and treatment across the world.

Denis Law receiving honorary degree
Ex-footballer Denis Law received a special award for his trust’s community work (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The Denis Law Legacy Trust, which supports children and young people through its Streetsport project, received a special award for outstanding service to the community.

The Princess Royal said she met the ex-footballer when they shared front row seats at the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year ceremony in Aberdeen in December.

“There’s no doubting the fondness for him here in Aberdeen,” she told guests.

The University of Aberdeen was founded in February 1495 – which chancellor Camilla said “by happy coincidence” was the year of the earliest written record of the distillation of Scotch whisky.

She said: “Next month, your proud chancellor will make sure she toasts your birthday with a wee dram.”

The duchess later attended the official opening of Banchory Sports Village on Royal Deeside, where the royals traditionally spend a summer break at Balmoral Castle.