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HRH Princess Anne - the Princess Royal

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Princess Anne - the 'No Nonsense' Princess - is considered by many to be the hardest-working member of the British Royal Family, carrying out hundreds of official engagements every year. After the Queen, the British public is said to consider Anne to be the Royal Family's most valuable national asset. They feel that she gets the job done, fulfilling her duty without using gimmicks or drawing undue attention to herself. She's no 'clothes-horse' and has kept the same hairstyle for 30 years.


HRH Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise of Edinburgh, second child and only daughter of Their Royal Highnesses Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born at Clarence House, London, on 15 August, 1950. At the time of her birth, her mother was heir-presumptive to the throne of the United Kingdom.

Anne was less than two years old when her grandfather George VI died and her mother became Queen. Anne and her older brother Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, were raised mostly by nannies due to their parents' royal duties. Anne was educated by a private tutor and governess Catherine Peebles at Buckingham Palace. Being second-in-line to the British throne (the Queen's two children took precedence over the Queen's sister Princess Margaret) earns that person the dubious nickname 'spare'. This is because they are the 'standby' to take over as Monarch should anything untoward befall the heir. Anne's grandfather Prince Albert, Duke of York, was the 'spare' of his generation; he became King George VI when his older brother Edward VIII abdicated.

The Precocious Princess

From a young age Anne was already displaying a degree of precociousness. From the way she behaved, you would have thought the age difference was the other way around; Anne was bossy with her more timid and studious older brother and constantly trying to give their bodyguards the slip. When the Royal Family were on board the Royal Yacht Britannia, sailors knew they had to keep on their toes minding Anne, who had a habit of disappearing while investigating the mysterious and alluring potential hiding places of her floating playground. Anne recently recalled the times spent on Britannia as the happiest of her childhood.

By the age of eight, knowing that the palace guard on duty had to 'present arms' to a member of the Royal Family, she ventured into the palace grounds and walked past again, and again, and again. Each time the poor soldier duly presented arms until the Queen, who happened to look out of a window from the palace, called her back in and gave her daughter a right royal telling-off.

The Older Sister

Anne has two younger brothers: Prince Andrew (born 1960) was the first child to be born to a reigning monarch since Queen Victoria's youngest daughter was born in 1857; and Prince Edward was born in 1964 when Anne was a teenager and already attending boarding school.

Boarding School

Despite being educated at the palace, she wasn't cloistered away from other girls as Her Majesty invited a Girl Guide troupe to Buckingham Palace every week as company for her. When she was 13, Anne was sent to Benenden, a private boarding school in Kent. This was the first time a sovereign's daughter had attended boarding school. It was Anne's first time away from home and she was physically sick on the journey. It's fair to say Anne was not a happy academic student but she did attain six 'O'-levels and two 'A'-levels. She was a popular girl at school with a sporting nature; her love of horses and riding eventually took her to the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada.

Public Life

After completing her 'A'-levels in 1968 Anne left Benenden and entered the public life of the Royal Family. By the age of 20, Anne was President of the charitable organisation Save The Children and has, to date, visited 70 countries on their behalf. She is also Commandant-in-Chief of St John Ambulance Cadets. Her charities total over 200 and the representatives of those charities speak highly of her, describing her as 'a businesswoman who delivers the goods'. When asked by a press photographer to pick up a starving baby on an African tour, Anne replied: 'I don't do stunts'.


Anne's first boyfriend was Andrew Parker Bowles1, a former equerry to the Queen. No marriage could be contemplated between them due to him being a Roman Catholic. Another potential romance was scuppered by Prince Philip. Richard Meade OBE was the Olympic Champion at three-day eventing and a dead-ringer for a younger Prince Philip. Handsome Meade, who is 12 years older than Anne, was considered too old for her even though the match later engineered for her brother had exactly that age difference.


Anne's talent as a horsewoman is renowned: she became European Champion at three-day eventing in 1971. That year she was voted the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year and nominated as Sportswoman of the Year by the Sports Writers' Association. Even having an operation to remove an ovarian cyst didn't slow her down; she was back in the saddle less than three weeks later. Anne and her favourite horse, Doublet, were a formidable partnership. When Doublet broke his leg in a fall in 1974, Anne was heartbroken and she held him as he was put to sleep by a vet.

In 1975 Anne won a silver medal in both individual and team disciplines in the European Eventing Championships which were held in Luhmuhlen, West Germany, and she represented Great Britain in the Equestrian team in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

Unfortunately the press were present when Anne took a tumble from a horse. They reported that she shouted 'Naff 'orf!' while they were photographing her sprawling in the mud. It's possible they misheard due to trying to avoid the manure being hurled in their direction, as other reports state that she used much stronger swearwords.

Attempted Kidnap

On the evening of 20 March, 1974, Ian Ball tried to kidnap Anne, in the first-ever attempt to abduct a member of the British Royal Family.


Anne received the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in 1974. In June, 1987 the Queen bestowed upon her daughter the title of The Princess Royal, making her the seventh holder of that title in history. The title is awarded by the reigning Monarch to the oldest daughter, and only when the position is vacant.

Anne's work with the Save the Children Fund prompted President Kaunda of Zambia to nominate her for the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize. The Queen's Service Order 'for valuable voluntary service to the community or meritorious and faithful services to the Crown or similar services within the public sector, whether in elected or appointed office' was awarded in 1990.

Anne received the Ladies' Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter in 1994. In 2000 to mark her 50th birthday and in recognition of her charitable work, she was made a Lady of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle. Their motto is Nemo me impune lacessit which is Latin for 'No one provokes me with impunity'.

Her latest award, bestowed on 29 September, 2005, is Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu, awarded for 'service, achievement, and merit in the highest degree, sustained over a period of twenty years'. Logohu means Bird of Paradise in Motu, one of the official languages of Papua New Guinea, where the Queen is constitutional monarch and Head of State. The Bird of Paradise is the national symbol which appears on the country's Coat of Arms.


Anne was the first of the Queen's children to get married, to Lieutenant Mark Phillips, a champion rider, in November 1973. They shared a mutual love of horses. He turned down the Queen's offer of a title when he married the princess. Mark Phillips had an affair and a paternity test eventually proved that he fathered Felicity Tonkin who was born in 1985. They announced their decision to separate in 1989 and the couple divorced in early 1992.

Anne was the first Royal divorcée to remarry since Henry VIII. Her second husband was former equerry to the Queen, Commodore Timothy Laurence, who was then aged 46. Their wedding took place at Craithie Church in Scotland, on 12 December, 1992, in the presence of just 30 guests. There is media speculation that the couple have drifted apart and are now living separate lives, but Buckingham Palace has refused to comment. They would not make a statement without the permission of the princess and she may not wish to comment on the matter, due to her being a private person. Commodore Laurence, who is currently posted at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, did not attend the Duke of Edinburgh's 80th birthday celebration in 2000.


Peter Mark Andrew Phillips, born on 15 November, 1977, was the Queen's first grandchild. When he was born he was fifth in line to the British throne, but currently he is tenth in line. Rugby-player Peter lives with his Canadian girlfriend Autumn Kelly in a cottage on his mother's Gatcombe Park estate.

Zara (a variation of Sarah, which means 'princess') Anne Elizabeth Phillips was born on 15 May, 1981 and she was the Queen's first granddaughter. One of Zara's godfathers is Andrew Parker Bowles. 'Royal rebel' Zara had her tongue and navel pierced when she was just 16 years old. Zara is an accomplished equestrian sportswoman like her mother. She won the individual gold in the European Eventing Championship at Blenheim Palace in 2005 on her own mount Toytown, and her mother presented the medals. Zara lives with her partner Mike Tindall of the England national rugby union team.

Anne's two children do not carry titles of their own, not even 'HRH'. This was Anne's personal request of the Queen, because she wanted her children to have as normal an upbringing as possible, and be unburdened by Royal duties. Peter and Zara were the first untitled grandchildren of a British sovereign in over five centuries.

The Television Appearances

To celebrate Anne becoming President of Save The Children in 1971, the BBC commissioned a trip to Kenya for a programme called The Blue Peter Royal Safari presented by Valerie Singleton. Ms Singleton recalls this adventure as one of the highlights of her BBC career, and the safari itself is among the top Blue Peter moments.

In 1987 Anne appeared on the BBC's A Question of Sport on Emlyn 'Crazy Horse' Hughes' team. He was so excited when she won a point that he broke protocol and hugged her. She didn't complain but she didn't hug him back either. What she did complain about was Emlyn's appalling spelling. The following week, a picture of Anne on a horse, with her head bowed and her helmet covering her face, was shown to Emlyn Hughes's team for them to guess who it was. Emlyn guessed at it being a male jockey and when he was told it was Anne, he appeared genuinely worried that she would either have him shot or lock him in The Tower of London and throw away the key. Emlyn's royal error became a running gag2 throughout the following episodes of the popular show.

Also in 1987, It's A Royal Knockout was dreamed up and organised by Anne's youngest brother Prince Edward, now the Earl of Wessex. Compèred by Stuart Hall3, it had to be seen to be believed. It's hard to imagine how Anne was persuaded to take part, but she was game for a laugh and looked quite fetching in her medieval dress. Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and his wife Sarah, Duchess of York, also took part. Over £1 million was raised for four charities, including Anne's Save the Children Fund. Members of the Royal Family have never volunteered themselves for Family Fortunes or The Generation Game so maybe it's a case of once bitten...

The Controversial Royal

A 19-year-old suddenly being dropped in the middle of the street and being told to go and pick on someone and talk to them - fun? - no, I don't think so.
- Anne admitting in a BBC interview that she disliked the 1970 introduction of Royal walkabouts.

Anne is not a 'touchy-feely' type of person and does not wear her heart on her sleeve. She keeps a stiff upper lip and finds dealing with the press and photographers exasperating4. She is clearly her father's daughter, and well-known for speaking her mind.

In 2002 Anne publicly gave her backing to London's potential bid to hold the 2012 Olympic Games, breaking Royal protocol, because the monarchy is obliged to be non-political. She spoke as the British Olympic Association president and she also serves on the International Olympic Committee. It was announced that London would host the 2012 Olympic Games on 6 July, 2005.

Brushes with the Law

Anne admitting driving her Bentley at 93mph (in a 70mph zone) on a dual carriageway in Gloucestershire. Her excuse was that she thought the police car with its blue lights flashing was following her to escort her to her destination. Cheltenham magistrates fined her £400, gave her a five-point endorsement on her driving licence and ordered her to pay £30 court costs.

In 2002, Anne was fined £500 by Berkshire Magistrates' Court after being convicted under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. The case was titled Regina vs Anne Elizabeth Alice Lawrence and symbolically pitted mother against daughter, as criminal charges are brought on behalf of the monarch. Anne attended court, the first senior Royal to do so in over a century, along with members of her family.

She pleaded guilty to the charge that her unleashed English bull terrier Dotty had attacked two boys in Windsor Great Park. The seven-year-old boy had scratch marks on his right forearm, his back and his left leg, and the 12-year-old suffered a bite on the collarbone and two bites to his left leg. It was the first time a senior member of the Royal Family had been convicted of a criminal offence. She also had to pay £500 compensation in total to the children and pay £148 court costs.

At Christmas in 2003, a corgi belonging to the Queen had to be put to sleep after being savaged by Florence, another of Anne's dogs.

The Hardest-working Royal

Anne holds many honorary military titles and is Rear Admiral and Chief Commandant for Women, Royal Navy. Every year on Remembrance Sunday she attends the Cenotaph in London to lay a poppy wreath on their behalf. Anne is Chancellor of the University of London. One of the duties of this role is to present graduates and postgraduates (of all the colleges) with their degrees. She is also Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Signals.

As a rule, Anne and her mother The Queen do not make royal visits together. A notable exception was on Mothering Sunday in 1996. They visited Dunblane, Scotland, four days after the massacre of 16 children and their teacher. They attended a service in the cathedral and visited the wounded children and teachers at the Stirling Royal Infirmary. Anne brought a bouquet of snowdrops from her own garden to lay at the scene. The 'Snowdrop Campaign,' formed by residents of Dunblane, aimed to ban the private ownership of handguns in the UK. By the end of 1997, it had achieved its goal.

BBC Birmingham's new broadcasting centre The Mailbox was officially opened by Anne in September, 2004. She was taken on a tour around the premises and viewed the radio and TV studios which are among the most up-to-date in the world. She had also opened the BBC's former site at Pebble Mill in 1971.

Anne opened a two-day conference on aid to Malawi at the Scottish Parliament in November 2005. First Minister Jack McConnell promised to help in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa.

People in Grimsby, Cleethorpes and the surrounding area raised £2 million to build a new animal charity care centre, The Blue Cross, on Nelson Street, Grimsby. The centre provides care for the pets of those people on benefits or low incomes who cannot afford private vets' fees. It opened in July 2005 after a two-year fund-drive and replaced a dilapidated old building which had been providing free care for sick animals for 50 years. Anne was invited to visit and she officially opened the new facility by unveiling a plaque in November 2005.

During Christmas week in 2005 Anne presented the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service to the Wallingford Coach for the Disabled charity, which makes around 120 trips a year, providing outings for elderly and people with impaired mobility in Wallingford and the surrounding district.

On 17 January, 2006 Anne went to a Rural Housing Trust seminar in Newchurch where she gave a speech to parish councillors from the Ashford, Shepway and Dover districts about the benefits of affordable housing. Then she moved on to Ashford where she visited a primary school before finally dropping by the Carers FIRST (Caring for Carers) Centre, which provides advice, information and support to family carers in Tonbridge.

In March, 2006 she officially opened a sheltered housing development in Bristol. Also that month, she presented medals to injured Iraq war veterans as well as opening a new £240,000 exhibition at the Royal Signals Museum.

On 10 April, 2006, Anne visited Devon to officially open a number of buildings and meet local people. The following day she flew into Dorset for the official opening of a new housing development which provides accommodation for the elderly or people who need care after they are discharged from hospital. Then she met the staff and residents, toured the facilities and planted a magnolia tree in the garden. Following that visit she moved onto the Portland National Coastwatch lookout, and rounded off the day with a tour of the National Sailing Academy.


  • Currently Princess Anne is ninth in the line of succession to the British throne.

  • Anne's horsebox has the registration plate 1 ANN.

  • To commemorate her 21st birthday in 1971, Wedgwood Pottery released a blue Jasperware pin dish with a white-relief cameo of Anne wearing her hair down, as was her style then.

  • Anne's hairstylist, Michael Rasser, 67, was awarded a Royal Victorian Medal in the New Year's Honours list 2002. The gong was officially for 'hairdressing services to the Princess Royal' - though unofficially to 'the keeper of royal secrets'.

1He later married Camilla Shand, who subsequently married Anne's brother, Prince Charles, in April 2005.2In the discussions the captain is usually asked 'Are you sure it's male?' (or female) before the answer is given.3He had been one of the presenters of It's A Knockout and the European version Jeux Sans Frontières (popular TV programmes during the 1970s).4When she's not swearing at them, that is.

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