Anne, the Princess Royal

We delve into the history of the Princess Royal, Anne.

princess anne

by Emily Gilbert |

While she often flies under the royal radar, Princess Anne has always been admired for her straight-talking, no-nonsense approach to being a Princess, generally preferring to just get the job done quietly.

Princess Anne was born in London on 15 August 1950 in London, the only daughter and second child of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. She was known as Princess Anne until she was given the title of The Princess Royal by The Queen in June 1987. She is 14th in line to the throne as of August 2019

The Royal Family
©Alamy

Charity work

Since the age of 18, Princess Anne has committed her life entirely to public life, often undertaking more royal engagements in a year than any other member of her family. Charity work has always been a cornerstone of her life and she continues to be involved in as many as 300 charities and organisations across the Commonwealth. She even helped to create several charities including The Carers’ Trust and has been the President of Save the Children since 1970.

Equine love

When she’s not working, though, horses remain Princess Anne’s great passion in life – a love that has always been said to bring her and her mother even closer together. An expert horsewoman, many of us will remember Anne competing in the eventing team for the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games making her the first ever royal Olympian. But that isn’t the only ‘first’ Princess Anne can lay claim to. She was also the first royal to appear on a TV quiz show when she starred on A Question of Sport in 1987 and the first royal to visit the Soviet Union in 1990.

Princess Anne on horseback on Pall Mall
©Alamy

A shared passion

A mutual love of horses was at the heart of Princess Anne’s marriage to Captain Mark Phillips. The pair seemed perfect for one another. The Princess had made a name for herself in the equestrian world. She was an integral part of the British Eventing team and had won BBC Sports Personality of the Year. She first met Mark, a Lieutenant in the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, at 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico and over the following few years the couple both competed at various equestrian events across the world.

They became engaged at the Badminton Horse Trials in the spring of 1973, but didn’t share their news for six weeks. Mark afterwards admitted how nervous he had been to ask Prince Phillip’s permission to wed Anne and tellingly at their engagement photocall, it was forthright Anne who did most of the talking.

Their wedding took place on November 14, 1973, Prince Charles 25th birthday.

Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II of England, and Captain Mark Phillips
©Alamy

At the beginning, things went smoothly. Phillips was promoted to Captain and the couple continued their shared passion. They have two children Peter (born 1977) and Zara (born 1981). Zara in particular has inherited her parents’ love of horses, winning a silver medal with the British equestrian team in 2012 London Olympics.

Related: Princess Margaret young: The rebel royal and her forbidden fairy-tale romance

A new love

Over time rumours spread that the couple were increasingly living separate lives until two distinct scandals spelled the end of their marriage. Stolen private letters leaked to the press appeared to reveal a growing affection between Anne and her mother’s Equerry, Commander Timothy Laurence. Soon after the revelation that Mark Phillips has fathered a child outside of their marriage spelled the end and the couple divorced in April 1992.

In December of the same year Anne quietly married Timothy at Crathie Kirk near Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The couple have now celebrated 25 years of marriage.

The Princess Royal has four beloved granddaughters: Savannah Phillips (December 2010), Isla Phillips (March 2012), Mia Tindall (January 2014) and Lena Tindall (June 2018).

Supporting The Queen

In her role as Head of State, the Princess Royal supports The Queen by representing her at events in both the UK and abroad, also attending state and ceremonial events each year such as Trooping the Colour and Remembrance Day.

Princess Anne also acts as ambassador for the UK, representing its culture and interests overseas. She carries out up to three overseas tours each year for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office alongside her overseas visits in support of her charity work. These tend to involve receptions with the local business community and meetings with politicians and local dignitaries.

Queen Elizabeth II's finest moments

Prince Philip: A doting husband and loving great-grandfather

Queen Elizabeth's love of horse racing

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us