A LITTLE York girl who has battled since birth against spina bifida, enjoyed a fairytale treat today when she met a real Princess.

Three-year-old Millie Oulton presented a posy of flowers during a visit by the Princess Royal to Imphal Barracks in Fulford Road, where the Princess was meeting the families of soldiers who served in the Gulf during the Iraq war.

Millie, whose father Sgt Phil Oulton will remain out in the Gulf until the summer, has undergone two serious operations over the past two years, said her mother Paula.

"She has been quite poorly while her daddy has been away," said Mrs Oulton, of Fulford.

"It's a treat for her to do this today.

"She has missed her daddy - she's a real daddy's girl.

"He told her she was meeting a princess because she was her daddy's little princess. He just wishes he could be here.

"Millie was very excited. She woke up this morning and the first thing she said was 'I am seeing a princess today, aren't I?'"

She said Princess Anne had been interested to hear about Millie during an hour spent by the Princess talking to families and also soldiers in 2 Signal Regiment.

"She was lovely - very down to earth," said Mrs Oulton.

The Princess was also presented with a garland by Uchan Thapa, five-year-old son of Gurkha Cpl Un Thapa, who returned from the Gulf last week. Uchan's mother, Chandra, said he had been very excited to meet the Princess.

The Princess had requested today's visit in her role as Colonel in Chief of the Royal Corps of Signals.

She flew in and out of the barracks by helicopter and before meeting the families was given a short briefing on the role and organisation of the Regiment by Major Lee Smart, Second in Command of the Regiment.

Before meeting the families, the Princess was received by Jenny MacRostie, wife of the Commanding Officer, Lt Col Stuart MacRostie, who is still out in Iraq. Following her visit the Princess flew to Harrogate to attend the annual meeting of the Intensive Care Society.

Updated: 16:39 Tuesday, May 20, 2003