With the coronation drawing closer, many royals have found themselves in the media spotlight. King Charles and Queen Camilla will naturally be the two leading figures on the big day, but another person of great interest will undoubtedly be Princess Anne.
The daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and sister of King Charles – who was given the title Princess Royal in 1987 – has largely kept quiet, performing her usual engagements despite the tumultuous periods the Royal Family has gone through of late.
Just days before the coronation, the princess has decided to speak out on the monarchy’s future.
It turns out she doesn’t agree with one facet of Charles’s approach at all.
Being a senior member of the Royal Family, Princess Anne has always lived her life in the spotlight. That said, she’s never been the type to attract headlines through her work, but rather through her personal life and interests.
In her youth, Anne placed perhaps more focus on having fun and enjoying herself rather than on her royal duties. Yet over the years, she became – and remains – one of the hardest-working royals in the entire family.
Though she’s a staunch supporter of her elder brother, King Charles, they don’t necessarily agree on how the monarchy should be formed in the future.
The Princess Royal’s story is quite incredible. She’s the second-eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II, but today stands at a lowly 16th in the line of succession. So, how is that even possible?
Let’s take a closer look at Princess Anne’s life – and what she will be doing at King Charles’ coronation on May 6.
Princess Anne – early life & education
Princess Anne was born on August 15, 1950, in London. The only daughter and second child of Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh, the late Prince Philip, it wasn’t until much later that she received her title of Princess Royal.
Anne was born when much was changing in the UK and the world. The post-war times were tough, and equality between men and women wasn’t the hottest of topics, at least not within the Royal Family.
Anne got her education at Buckingham Palace, and in 1963 joined the Beneden School in Kent, where she completed her education. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s other three children, Andrew, Charles, and Edward went to Gordonstoun School in Scotland. Anne was the only one that didn’t go to the prestigious school since girls were not permitted to attend.
In 1969, at 18, Princess Anne began taking on public engagements as a working royal. However, she had several other passions. Aged 11, the young princess made her debut in a public competition, even winning a jumping event held by the Queen at Windsor Home Park, according to the book Anne, Princess Royal.
She continued riding at the private Beneden School and tried out horses at the Moat House Riding School as much as she could.
Anne was a true athlete who loved the thrill of competing in classic horse riding and choreographed performance events.
“I thought if I was going to do anything outside of the royal family, horses was likely to be the best way of doing it,” Princess Anne told royal author Katie Nicholl in a piece for Vanity Fair.
Competed in the 1976 Olympics
“But then you have to find the right horse at the right time. The original horse I rode was bred as a polo pony and should never have been an event horse, but it worked, so that was very satisfying. But I always knew it was going to be limited time.”
While Anne continued her royal duties, horseback riding was a serious hobby. She finished fourth at the Rushall Horse Trials and later claimed victory at the high-profile Badminton Trials.
Even though an inflamed ovarian cyst halted her promising career, Princess Anne would claim her most significant success at the European Eventing Championships in Cambridgeshire in 1971. On her horse Doublet, Anne became the first royal ever to win the European gold medal and was awarded BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.
In 1976, she had the opportunity of a lifetime to compete in the Olympiad in Montreal, Canada. However, it didn’t go to plan.
Her horse, Goodwill, failed to make one of the jumps on the course, and Anne was thrown from the saddle. Though she remounted Goodwill, it was later revealed that she suffered from a concussion.
“What I didn’t know at the time was she had this awful fall, but she got back on and competed,” Princess Anne’s lady-in-waiting later said.
“She was that concussed that she couldn’t remember – and still to this day, I believe can’t remember – the rest of the course.”
Today, Princess Anne has been retired from professional equestrian for a long time. However, she still rides for pleasure at her home in Gloucestershire. She breeds horses and even helped teach her grandchildren to ride.
Princess Anne – family, husband, children, marriage, divorcee
And it wasn’t just fond memories that Princess Anne was given by Equestrian. It was through horses that she met her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, who competed in the 1972 Olympics in Munich and won gold in the team event.
The couple announced their engagement in May 1973, with the wedding later that year being watched by an estimated audience of 500 million people worldwide.
Mark was considered a commoner, and as such didn’t receive a royal title from Queen Elizabeth, despite marrying a princess. The Daily Express reported that his title did not change upon their marriage since the army officer declined Queen Elizabeth II’s offer of an earldom.
Anne and Mark welcomed two children, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips. Sadly, their marriage didn’t last as they split in 1989. In 1992, their divorce was finalized. According to Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, one reason was that Mark Phillips struggled with the requirements of being a royal.
“Royal life brings stresses and strains on those who marry into it. Mark Phillips was generally an ordinary boy [and] he couldn’t survive it,” he said on Channel 5’s The Royal Family: Affairs and Infidelities.
Moreover, royal expert Richard Kay claimed that Mark had a strained relationship with then-Prince Charles and Princess Anne’s two other brothers.
King Charles called Princess Anne’s husband “Fog”
Charles is even said to have had a cruel nickname for the captain.
“The Royal Family itself was not kind to Mark Phillips. It was said to me that Prince Charles christened his brother-in-law ‘Fog’ because he was dense and thick — not much going on,” Kay said.
Paul Burrell added: “Andrew and Edward were young then, and they used to have a joke. ‘Let’s see how long it is before Foggy talks about a horse’ — and they would time him to the second.”
Princess Anne remarried not long after her divorce from Mark. In 1992, she tied the knot with Sir Timothy Laurence at a Church of Scotland ceremony at Crathie Kirk.
She has five grandchildren: Savannah Phillips, born in December 2010; Isla, born in March 2012; Mia, born in January 2014; Lena, born in June 2018 and Lucas, born in March 2021.
Anne’s daughter Zara followed her mother into a successful riding career. She won a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics. Fittingly, it was Anne who presented her with the medal.
Meanwhile, Mark Phillips wed equestrienne Sandy Pflueger in 1997, though the couple sadly divorced in 2012.
Anne and Laurence are still happily married, and over the years he has reportedly become a much-loved family member.
Why is Princess Anne only 16th in the line of succession?
Last year, he was the only person on the balcony for Trooping the Colour for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee who wasn’t born into the Royal Family or a working royal.
“The Cambridge and Wessex children are also expected to appear as is Sir Tim Laurence, who the Queen is happy to attend as a frequent attendee and support for Princess Royal on official engagements,” the statement read at the time.
Princess Anne is the second-eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and yet finds herself 16th in the line of succession. How?
As mentioned, Anne was brought up in a time when women were “leap-frogged” by men in the line of succession. In reality, this meant that any baby boy born – for example, her younger brother Prince Andrew – immediately surpassed her claim to the throne.
The law used to prioritize males over females. In 2013, the Succession of the Crown Act was amended, ending a system where males were prioritized.
The new standards only apply to those born after October 28, 2011. But why didn’t it affect Princess Anne’s situation?
“The older royals had already made their lives, and there was no constitutional reason for bringing Anne back into the line of succession,” Constitutional expert Bob Morris, who was involved in the research process for the 2013 amendments to the Succession Act, told the Daily Express.
“The changes were mostly made because of the pregnancy of Kate. They had to prepare for that, and that was a good time to do it. No one was, as it were, being actively superseded by the changes.”
Princess Anne was named the hardest-working-member of the royal family
The change means that Princess Charlotte is ahead of her younger brother, Prince Louis, in the line of succession.
Yet even though the chances of Princess Anne becoming a reigning monarch are microscopical, she has always taken her job as a royal very seriously.
She is often referred to as one of the hardest-working members of the Royal Family. In 2020 and 2021, she was even officially awarded that title after undertaking more official engagements than any other working royal. In 2019, she carried out more than 500!
“I don’t think retirement is quite the same [for me],” she told Vanity Fair in 2020. “Most people would say we’re very lucky not to be in that situation because you wouldn’t want to just stop. It is, to a large extent, the choice of the organizations you’re involved with and whether they feel you’re still relevant.”
Princess Anne continued: “But I think both my father and my mother have, quite rightly, made decisions about, you know, ‘I can’t spend enough time doing this, and we need to find somebody else to do it’ because it makes sense. I have to admit they continued being there for a lot longer than I had in mind, but we’ll see.”
By all accounts, Princess Anne and Prince Charles’s relationship has always been good. On May 6, she will watch her elder brother crowned king at Westminster Abbey, and will also have a vital role to play in the proceedings.
Princess Anne will feature in the procession as the prestigious “Gold-Stick-in-Waiting,” historically a position handed to a person entrusted with the personal safety of the sovereign, as per the Mirror.
King Charles reportedly has plans for a slimmed-down monarchy
She will travel on horseback behind the new King and Queen in the procession heading back to Buckingham Palace, The privilege of “Gold-Stick-In-Waiting” dates back to the 15th century when the person entrusted with the title had the job of protecting the sovereign from danger. Of course, times change, and for this year’s coronation, Anne will have the help of more than 6,000 servicemen and servicewomen.
According to the Mirror, Princess Anne was “incredibly honored” to be given the prominent role.
“The direction of the King’s decision is clear for all to see,” a royal source told the paper. “He is rewarding the Princess Royal for her loyalty and her unwavering devotion to duty above all else. The King values his sister as a trusted lieutenant, and this is the perfect example of such a relationship.”
Now, as stated, Princess Anne has supported all her family members through the years and dedicated her entire life to serving the crown. But that doesn’t mean she agrees with her brother, the King, on everything.
As per reports, the monarch is said to be looking to reduce the number of “working” members of the Royal Family. In the long run, the aim is to lower the costs of maintaining the monarchy.
Recent studies have shown that the royals are taking on fewer engagements – partially because of the queen’s passing – and Charles reportedly wants to reduce the number of royal titles.
Princess Anne: “It doesn’t sound like a good idea”
But a slimmed-down monarchy isn’t necessarily a good thing. Princess Anne doesn’t think so, in any case.
In a new interview, speaking from St James’s Palace before Charles’s coronation, the Princess Royal argued that it will be hard to slim down the monarchy.
“Well, I think the ‘slimmed down’ was said on a day when there were a few more people around. It doesn’t sound like a good idea from where I’m standing, I would say. I’m not quite sure what else we can do,” Princess Anne told CBC.
Besides Queen Elizabeth’s passing, several other senior royals have left their official duties in recent years. Harry and Meghan departed the Royal Family for good, and Prince Andrew was forced to abandon royal life after the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, though he’s repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
In her new interview, Princess Anne was further questioned as to whether there are “conversations about relevance” taking place within the Royal Family.
She replied: “There will be everywhere. It’s not a conversation that I would necessarily have. I think it’s perfectly true that it is a moment where you need to have that discussion.”
Anne added: “But I would just underline that the monarchy provides, with the constitution, a degree of long-term stability that is quite hard to come by any other way.”
Princess Anne hopes to continue to ‘contribute’ to the monarchy
At the same time, recent polls have presented the Royal Family with a problem, as they suggest that the drop in numbers regarding those who favor a monarchy gives a strong hint about how many want to see it exist moving forward.
“Well, we don’t in many respects need to deal with it, not least of all because it is the monarch that is the key to this, and the constitution that underpins the monarchy,” Anne said.
“We as a family see ourselves there to support that role. What we do, we hope, contributes to the monarchy and how it can convey continuity, of not just interest, but of service, of understanding, the way that people in communities want to live their lives.
Princess Anne concluded: “And I think so often we get the chance to see communities and the people who do things well and are very generous with their time in a way that, if you look at the media, you tend not to get that impression.”
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