Princess Anne (HRH The Princess Royal) | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Princess Anne (HRH The Princess Royal)

Princess Anne (HRH The Princess Royal) (born 15 August 1950 in London, United Kingdom), the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II (1926 to 2022). An accomplished equestrian and member of the International Olympic Committee, she competed in the 1976 Olympic Summer Games in Montreal. She is Colonel-in-Chief of seven Canadian military regiments and patron of numerous Canadian charities and organizations.

Early Life and Education

Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise was born at Clarence House in London, the second child of Princess Elizabeth, then heiress presumptive to the throne, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. On 6 February 1952, Anne’s grandfather King George VI died, and her mother succeeded to the British and Commonwealth thrones as Queen Elizabeth II. The new Queen, Prince Philip and their children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, moved into Buckingham Palace. Anne was educated at home until the age of 13, when she became the first (and only) daughter of the monarch to go away to boarding school, attending Benenden School in Kent for her secondary education. After graduating with A-levels in history and geography, she took French lessons and began undertaking public engagements as a senior member of the royal family from the age of 18.

Marriages and Children

On 14 November 1973, Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey. More than 500 million people around the world watched the ceremony on television. Anne received Gatcombe Park, a country house and farm in Gloucestershire from the Queen. The official wedding gift from the Canadian government was a colourful wool tapestry by Quebec artist Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, who also designed the curtain for the main hall of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Anne and Mark have two children, Peter Phillips (born 1977) and Zara Tindall (born 1981), and five grandchildren. They divorced in 1992. From 2008 to 2021, their son, Peter, was married to Canadian management consultant Autumn Kelly, whom he met at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 2003. Peter and Autumn’s children, Savannah and Isla Phillips, are dual British and Canadian citizens. (See also Canadian Citizenship.)

On 12 December 1992, Princess Anne married her second husband, Sir Timothy Laurence, a naval officer who became vice admiral in 2007, at Crathie Parish Church, Ballater, near Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

Kidnapping Attempt

On 20 March 1974, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips were returning to Buckingham Palace after a charity event when Ian Ball, an unemployed labourer, blocked their car with his own, shot and wounded the chauffeur and police inspector, and attempted to remove Anne from the car, demanding that she come with him so that he could hold her for ransom. Anne reputedly replied, “Not bloody likely.” Anne and Mark struggled with the would-be kidnapper until he was punched repeatedly by Ronnie Russell, a passing amateur boxer who later received a medal from the Queen. Ball was arrested and sentenced to life in a psychiatric institution.

The kidnapping attempt prompted lasting changes to royal security, including the enlargement of the Royal Protection Department. Anne and her ladies-in-waiting received self-defence training.

Royal Duties

Princess Anne is one of the senior working members of the royal family, along with King Charles III and the Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales (William and Catherine) and the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh (Edward and Sophie). Before the Queen’s death in 2022, Anne represented the Queen on state occasions, Commonwealth tours, garden parties and investitures, and undertook hundreds of engagements each year on behalf of public institutions, charities and military regiments. Anne told BBC newscaster Brian Hoey, “I do not like sitting around doing nothing, so, if there is space during the day when I have already got some engagements, I try to fill the time. I see no point in sitting around when perhaps I might be able to make a small contribution by doing something.”

In 1987, the Queen granted Anne the title of Princess Royal, a title traditionally held by the eldest daughter of the monarch since the 17th century, in honour of her charity work. Her responsibilities have increased in recent years with the death of her father, Prince Philip, in 2021 and the Queen in 2022.

The Olympic Games

In 1976, the Queen, Prince Philip and all four of their children, Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward, visited Montreal for the Olympic Summer Games. The Queen opened the Olympic Games as Canada’s Head of State and both Anne and her then husband, Mark Phillips, were members of the British Olympic equestrian team. Anne competed in the equestrian three-day event, riding the Queen’s horse, Goodwill. She placed 26th in the dressage and suffered a concussion when she fell from her horse at the cross-country event. Despite this injury, she finished the final day of competition and placed fourth in the final show jumping event. Anne later reflected to one of her biographers, “Sport has broadened my horizons and competition opened up new experiences.”

In 1988, Anne became a member of the International Olympic Committee and played a key role in London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. At the London Olympics, Anne’s daughter, Zara Phillips, won a silver medal as part of the British equestrian team, which Anne presented personally.

Royal Visits to Canada

Princess Anne has visited Canada on 22 occasions, a combination of official visits and working visits on behalf of her Canadian regiments and charitable patronages, as well as equestrian events and in her role as a member of the International Olympic Committee. She toured Canada for the first time with the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles in 1970 in honour of the 100th anniversary of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. Subsequent visits to Canada included attending the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary and 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver as a member of the International Olympic Committee and president of the British Olympic Association. She also opened the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto in 1974 and the Pan Am Games in 1999. Her most recent tours were an official visit in 2014 to rededicate the National War Memorial in Ottawa and a private working visit to Montreal in 2015 as president of Emerging Leaders' DialoguesCanada, a charitable organization focused on providing in-field leadership development programs.

Canadian Military Regiments and Patronages

Princess Anne is one of the most active members of the royal family, involved with more than 300 charities, organizations and military regiments in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. In Canada, she is Colonel-in-Chief of the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s), the Canadian Forces Communications and Electronics Branch, the Royal Canadian Hussars, The Grey and Simcoe Foresters, the Royal Canadian Medical Service, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the Royal Regina Rifles. She is also Commodore-in-Chief of the Canadian Fleet Pacific. Her Canadian patronages include Camp Hill Veterans’ Services and the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association, and she is an honorary fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Further Reading

External Links

Royal Family
Queen Elizabeth visiting the National War Memorial in Ottawa, ca. 1943-1965.