Princess Anne never lived an enchanted life, but unlike her colleagues in the royal family, she was initially unlucky in love. She finally found her prince charming after a scandal that shocked the whole of Britain.
Today, Princess Anne lives a happily married life with the love of her life, Sir Timothy Lawrence. However, the road to marital bliss was a rough terrain. She had a couple of failed teenage romances with polo player Sandy Harper and Prince Harry’s godfather, Gerald Ward.
In her late teens and early twenties, the princess fell in love with Richard Meade, a keen and skilled horseman. However, their relationship hit a wall. According to some reports, Prince Philip was behind the break-up as the twelve-year separation between Meade and Anne did not sit well with him.
Princess Anne, Princess Royal attends the Epsom Derby at Epsom Racecourse on June 4, 2022 in Epsom, England. | Source: Getty Images
In 1970, the princess dated Andrew Parker Bowles, who was to become Camilla’s husband. The relationship ended because Bowles is Catholic and technically could not marry the princess.
ANNE’S FIRST WEDDING STARTS AS AN ADVENTURE
The princess’ failed romance with Bowles might have seemed the end of the road for her love life, but in 1973 she became engaged to Captain Mark Phillips. The couple met over their love of horses after being introduced at an event in Mexico City.
Princess Anne with Captain Mark Phillips just before their wedding on 22 July 1973. | Source: Getty Images
On May 29, 1973, Phillips proposed to the princess with a diamond and sapphire ring. After announcing the engagement, they were asked:
¨Do you think that marriage can withstand the enormous pressure of public duty and publicity that you have to bear?¨
able to ? You have to, don’t you?¨ replied Anne. They married six months later, in November, at Westminster Abbey, in a televised ceremony that drew 500 million viewers. 1500 guests were present.
Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips wave to cheering crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace on November 14 after their wedding at Westminster Abbey. | Source: Getty Images
The happy couple welcomed their first child Peter Phillips in 1977, followed by daughter Zara Phillips Tindall in 1981. After the birth of their children, the couple enjoyed another three years of marriage before things began to fall apart.
By 1984, their marriage had deteriorated so badly that the couple moved into different hotels each time they traveled.
ANNE’s secret affair with her mother’s servant exposed by a thief
In 1989, while still married to Phillip, Anne became the center of a scandal that shook the whole of Britain. It all starts when The Sun reveals it has received, anonymously, letters written by the princess.
Princess Anne and Tim Laurence attend church on Easter Sunday at Windsor Castle in April 2009 | Source: Getty Images
Stolen from the palace, the letters would all be written in the same handwriting in black ink. While the publication did not reveal the identity of the mystery writer or the contents of the stolen letters, the palace issued a statement saying:
¨The stolen letters were addressed to the Princess Royal by Commander Timothy Laurence, Queen’s Esquire¨.
Princess Anne, Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence take part in a flypast to mark 100 years of the Royal Air Force from the balcony of Buckingham Palace on July 10, 2018 in London, England | Source: Getty Images
Friends and neighbors testified to the budding relationship between Anne and Laurence, with one claiming that the latter had been thinking about Anne ever since they first met in 1968. On the other hand, Anne treated Laurence as her confidant. A friend said:
¨It is clear that Tim and the princess were physically attracted to each other, but their friendship went far beyond that. Tim had filled the princess’s loneliness and given her a shoulder to cry on when she needed someone to tell her problems to.
“He understands her tantrums and the bad publicity she gets. But most of all, he cares about her, like her husband doesn’t.” they added. Anne’s romance has been dubbed ‘The Real Princess Anne’
Princess Anne at the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Mr. Thomas Kingston at St George’s Chapel on May 18, 2019 in Windsor, England | Source: Getty Images
After these letters were published, Phillips and Anne soon separated, but vowed not to divorce. But in 1991, their marriage suffered another blow when new evidence emerged that Phillips had an illegitimate 5-year-old daughter, Felicity.
The revelations came after Heather Tonkin, an art teacher from New Zealand, told the Daily Express that while Phillips did not disown his child, he had not properly acknowledged him and put his name on his birth certificate.
At first Phillips denied the allegations, but soon after further revelations said he had paid a total of £6,000 a year to Tonkin under the guise of hiring her as a consultant on “equestrian matters”.
Mark Phillips attends today one of the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park on August 7, 2015 in Stroud, England. | Source: Getty Images
Tonkin also said Phillips asked her to terminate her pregnancy and only came forward after the payments became erratic.
In a shocking twist, it also emerged that Phillips’ agent John Erskine had threatened her and said he would make her life miserable. Despite their promise not to divorce, Anne and Phillips’ marriage officially ended in 1992 after 20 years together.
ANNE HAD TO LEAVE ENGLAND TO MARRY THE PERSON SHE LOVED
Freed from her unhappy marriage to Phillips, Anne and Laurence begin dating officially, but choose to keep a low profile. They rarely appear together in pictures or in public.
Princess Anne, Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence attend today three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 17, 2021 in Ascot, England. | Source: Getty Images
The very year of Anne’s divorce, Laurence proposes to her by offering her a sapphire and diamond ring.
They married later that year, but had to leave England and marry in Scotland, as the Church of England does not allow divorcees to remarry. Only members of the royal family attended the event, with Anne’s daughter, Zara, acting as bridesmaid.
Despite their differences in interests – Anne is a fan of horses while Laurence is not – they bond over their shared love of rugby. They have been married for 29 years and are looking forward to celebrating their 30th anniversary this year.
Timothy Laurence and Princess Anne, Princess Royal, at the Flag Parade on June 2, 2022 in London, England | Source: Getty Images
Laurence, who is sometimes called Anne’s “invisible husband”, never performs royal engagements alone, unlike other royal spouses such as Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
However, he supports his wife during royal engagements and has been the princess’s rock for the past three decades. If they’ve never revealed the secret to such a long and happy marriage, many suspect their shared sense of humor tops the list.
At an event to mark Chelsea Royal Hospital’s Founder’s Day, Laurence joked that he and Anne were both supporters of Tottenham Hotspur football club. “I know that’s a pretty dangerous thing to say here in Chelsea, so I might need an escort when I leave.” he added, leaving viewers speechless.
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