Princess Anne (1950—)

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Princess Anne (1950—)

British princess and equestrian champion. Name variations: Anne, Princess of the United Kingdom. Born Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise on August 15, 1950, in Clarence House, London, England; second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II (b. 1926), queen of England (r. 1952—) and Prince Phillip (b. 1921); attended Benenden School in Kent; married Mark Phillips (captain of the Queen's Dragoon Guards and twice a medalist in three-day eventing at the Olympic games), in 1973 (separated 1989; divorced, April 1992); married Tim Laurence (a naval commander), on December 12, 1992; children (first marriage) Peter Mark Andrew (b. 1977) and Zara Phillips (b. 1981).

First royal rider to win the Raleigh Trophy; president of the British Olympics Association; declared Princess Royal, 1987.

Princess Anne was born into a royal family that was dotty over horses. Her mother Queen Elizabeth II owned some of the finest thoroughbreds in Great Britain, and her father Prince Phillip was president of the International Equestrian Federation. As she watched her mother review the troops astride a mount, Anne longed to be a horsewoman; she rode as a child through the trails surrounding Windsor Castle.

At 17, Anne started training with Allison Ower , determined to compete in the Equestrian Championships of Europe. Though it was unusual for royalty to enter competitions with commoners, in Anne's view horses were a leveling influence, a bond between her and the British people.

In September 1971, when the Three Day Event was held in Burghley, England, 20,000 subjects watched 21-year-old Anne perform on her favorite horse, Doublet. Though she had not been rated expert enough to make the British team, to everyone's surprise she soon held the lead. When the championships ended, Anne was 37.8 points ahead of the next British rider; she was also ahead of riders from eight other countries. The Raleigh Trophy was hers, and Princess Anne became the first member of royalty to win the European Equestrian Championships.

The public was enthralled by the sight of the young princess jumping her horse over high hedges and fences. Closer at hand, Anne captured the attention of fellow competitor, Lt. Mark Phillips, who finished sixth at the championships. They married in 1973. Mark had been a reserve member of the British Equestrian Team in the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico, and after the two married it became their combined goal to perform in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

In 1974, Anne lost Doublet when he broke his leg and had to be put down. A year later, she was selected for the official British team to compete in the European Championships in the Federal Republic in Germany. Hers was the first all-woman British team and the first ever to boast a member of the Royal family. The princess won silver medals in both individual and team competitions.

Just three months before Olympic team selection, Anne was hospitalized with a serious hairline fracture of a vertebrae after a bad fall during horse trials at Durweston, Dorset. Through sheer will and intense physiotherapy, she was well enough to win her place on the team, though in a final trial her husband Mark was named only as a reserve. Unfortunately, the games proved somewhat of an anticlimax. The team started poorly, with one horse going lame and another pulling a tendon. Princess Anne suffered another serious fall in the cross-country and crossed the finish line in a daze, though Olympic watchers were impressed with her determination. In subsequent years, she continued to compete throughout Britain and Europe, including the Horse of the Year Show at Wembley, and was successful as a jockey in horse racing.

Though in her youth Anne acquired a reputation for being brusque with the media, she slowly changed British perceptions with her avid support of charities and overseas relief work, including travel in Third World countries as president of the Save the Children Fund. Scandal surrounded her separation from Mark Phillips in 1989, after disclosure of a relationship with Lt. Tim Laurence, whom she met during his tour of duty on the Royal Yacht Britannia. In April 1992, Anne divorced Phillips and, in December of that year, married Laurence.


Cooper, Jonathan. "Princess Anne Clears a New Hurdle: The Steeplechase," in People Weekly. March 30, 1987, pp. 36–37.

Parker, John. The Princess Royal. London, England: Hamish Hamilton, 1989.

Karin Loewen Haag , Athens, Georgia