Princess Anne is one of the most powerful people in the world, and yet so few people know her dark, twisted history. From kidnapping attempts to incestuous family affairs, let’s just say Princess Anne is not your mother’s royal. Here are 50 regal facts about Princess Anne.
On August 15, 1950, Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise was born in Clarence House in London, England. And yeah, it was kind of a big deal. As the second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II (then just Princess Elizabeth) and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, little Anne’s birth came with a 21-gun salute in Hyde Park.
Royal families in history aren’t exactly known for their well-adjusted romances (looking at you, King Henry VIII), and Anne’s bedroom life is more twisted than people know. Starting in 1970, Anne’s first boyfriend was the wealthy and handsome Andrew Parker Bowles—but their relationship was filled with scandal.
You see, when he and Anne started dating, Andrew had just broken up with his on-again, off-again flame, the blonde spitfire Camilla Shand—AKA the current Duchess of Cornwall. In fact, some royal insiders even claim that Andrew actually cheated on Camilla with Anne. But that’s not even the end of the ridiculous story.
In a super awkward move, Anne’s brother Prince Charles went and started dating Camilla at the same time that Anne was taking Andrew to bed. Yep, that’s totally healthy, well-adjusted sibling behavior.
Anne and Charles’s vaguely gross couple swapping ended horribly. Camilla and Andrew eventually got back together again, leaving the royal siblings high, dry, and with a lot of embarrassing egg on their faces. Yet apparently Anne didn’t learn much from the experience, because her love life only got rockier.
Growing up a royal isn’t all that it’s cut out to be. When Anne was just a toddler, Elizabeth became Queen of England, a job title that obviously took the girl’s mother away from her during her most formative years. Most of Anne’s younger life was spent in the company of nannies and governesses rather than with her mother.
Nonetheless, Anne may be closest with Queen Elizabeth out of most of her siblings. Where her brother Prince Charles once infamously complained that it was "inevitably the nursery staff" who taught him to play and looked after his emotional needs, Anne bonded with Queen Elizabeth over their shared love of horses from a young age.
Anne’s relationship with her father Prince Phillip is much more complicated than with her mother. Philip was a notoriously strict and unemotional father, and he often took to belittling both Charles and Anne as they were growing up. As a result, Anne developed a thick outer skin to shake off his cruel insults.
Being a princess of Great Britain is super weird, and Anne’s childhood took “bizarre” to the next level. When she was young, the palace created a special, temporary Girl Guides company whose literal only goal was letting Anne socialize with normal girls. As soon as she went off to boarding school, the group disbanded. Yep, totally normal—good job, guys.
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Anne was definitely not your typical princess. While most girls dream of a royal life full of tulle and tiaras, Anne wanted nothing to do with those baubles even though she could actually have them. As her father Prince Philip once quipped about his horse-loving, tomboy daughter: "If it doesn't fart or eat hay, she isn't interested."
In 1968, Anne met the handsome and uber horsey Mark Phillips at a party for equestrians. In case you didn’t know, being into horses is like catnip for the royal family—particularly for Anne, who was a horse girl to her core. The princess was reportedly smitten from the start, but they were doomed to a heartbreaking end.
At first, though, Anne and Mark seemed to have a total fairy tale. On November 14, 1973, the lovebirds married in an extravagant ceremony. Not only did Anne get pulled to Westminster Abbey in an exquisite carriage, the royal family declared her big day as a special bank holiday for the public.
Princess Diana became famous for her confection of a wedding dress, but Anne was no slouch in the fashion department on her own special day. Her gown was a high-necked, Tudor-style dress that was supposed to call to mind medieval princesses of old. Never one to go too old-school, Anne also wore her hair in a mod beehive.
Anne’s wedding cake was gorgeous, but it also contained a small personal touch. Instead of bride and groom figurines at the top, the statuette depicted a female jockey leaping a fence. The unique touch was a nod to Anne and Mark’s equestrian hobbies.
Princess Anne and Mark Phillip’s marriage was unconventional in a lot of ways—which we’ll get to—but one surprise decision was Mark’s choice not to take on any titles when he married Anne. Because of this, their children, Peter and Zara Phillips, were also born without courtesy titles, and don’t go by anything particularly fancy.
For all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the wedding, not everyone in Anne’s family was gung ho about the couple. Reportedly, Anne's brother Prince Charles had a cruel nickname for Phillips. He called his new brother-in-law “Fog” for a vicious reason: To Charles, Phillips was “thick and wet.”
As Princess Anne’s marriage to Mark went on, dark rumors surrounded the couple. Many people noticed that they never spent any time together, and it wasn’t very long at all before the public whispered that a divorce was imminent. Anne vehemently denied it—but they may have been hiding a secret behind bedroom doors.
In 1979, Anne got caught up in a scandal that left the palace rushing to close ranks. In a story that seemed straight out of a romance novel, people claimed that Anne was having an affair with none other than her own personal bodyguard, Sergeant Peter Cross. It could have been idle gossip…except for the royal family’s disturbing response.
Just as the rumors around Anne and her babely muscle man started to heat up, the palace sacked Sergeant Cross. Take a spurned employee’s story with a grain of salt, but Cross then claimed in 1984 that he and the Princess really did have a short and dirty affair. We’ll probably never know the whole truth, but Anne’s love woes were far from over.
10 years after Sergeant Cross got unceremoniously fired, Anne got embroiled in an even bigger scandal. This time, it might have ruined her marriage. In the late 1980s, someone pilfered the personal letters of Timothy Laurence, who was a senior attendant of Queen Elizabeth II’s. This alone didn’t ignite the gossip mill—but the writing on the envelopes did.
As it turned out, these private letters were from Princess Anne herself. Though their contents were never revealed, their very existence led people to speculate that Laurence and Anne were engaged in yet another naughty extra-marital affair. Of course, Anne’s next move didn’t help things in the matter at all.
Very soon after Laurence and Princess Anne’s intimate correspondence became public, Anne and her husband Mark Phillips separated. But that’s not even the worst part. Anne and Phillips officially divorced in 1992, and Anne and Laurence married mere months later. Let’s just say where there’s smoke, there’s probably fire…
The princess and her second husband had a very different wedding than Anne's first. As royals like Anne’s brother Prince Charles have proven, England isn’t very kind to divorcees. Laurence and the princess were forced to marry in a small ceremony in Scotland, since the Church of England didn’t allow divorced people to remarry if their spouses were still alive.
Anne’s second marriage was so unusual that she was actually the first royal to divorce and then remarry since Queen Victoria’s day. Victoria’s granddaughter the Grand Duchess of Hesse was the last person to do it, and that happened all the way back in 1905. That Princess Anne, always such a rebel.
Anne isn’t exactly famous for her warm, sweet persona, and her prickly nature has gotten her into big trouble before. She routinely refuses to pose for photographs with people and doesn’t shake regular citizens’ hands, leading the media to give her the very unflattering nickname “Her Royal Rudeness.” Granted, her no-nonsense attitude also once got her out of a notorious bind, but we’ll get to that later…
Anne’s favorite food is the humble fish and chips, but her favorite drink has a harder edge. Apparently, the princess enjoys a nightly martini.
In 1994, Princess Anne got herself inducted into the incredibly prestigious Order of the Garter. Except this is Anne we’re talking about, so she had a very unusual demand before she accepted her membership. She insisted that she become a Royal Knight of the Order rather than a daintier Lady. Heck yes, Anne.
Though Anne is a much bolder and less sensitive personality than her brother Charles, the siblings have always been close, differences in their love lives aside. Anne often attended Charles’s plays when he was in school and of course she shoehorned her horse obsession into their bonding activities too. Anne helped her older brother ride and get rid of his fear of jumping.
Few people know that the good Princess Anne has something of a criminal record. Actually, she has multiple infractions. In 2001, she was speeding and earned herself a hefty £400 fine. The very next year, she landed in even hotter water when her dog Dotty went rogue and viciously attacked two children in Windsor Great Park, landing her another £500 fine.
In 1971, Princess Anne did the unthinkable. She actually got somewhere based more on talent than family connections. Ah, I kid—but she really did win the gold medal at the European Eventing Championships, a mutli-talented horsemanship competition. Even more impressive, Anne was only 21 at the time of her victory.
Anne’s riding skills also took her all the way to the Olympics in 1976; she was the first member of the royal family to ever compete.
Every horse girl needs a favorite horse, and Princess Anne’s loyal steed was fit for royalty. When she was doing her best work, her regular horse was a Thoroughbred cross named Doublet. However, The horse has a heartbreaking origin story. Queen Elizabeth herself had bred Doublet and gave him to her teenaged daughter as a present in 1963.
Sadly, being a royal horse didn’t save Doublet from tragedy, or Princess Anne from heartbreak. After taking her to the European championship, Doublet suffered a broken leg in 1974 while training at Windsor Castle. Unable to save the leg or give him a good quality of life, Anne had no choice but to put her beloved horse down. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
In December 2019, Her Royal Rudeness found herself in the headlines again. A viral video seemed to show Anne defiantly shrugging her shoulders when Queen Elizabeth asked her if she wanted to meet the President of the United States. People immediately praised Anne’s superb shade—but the real story is much different.
The rest of the video makes the truth clear. As it turns out, Queen Elizabeth was only looking to see who else might have been behind the president in the royal greeting line. When she looked over and just saw her daughter Anne, the Princess shrugged her shoulders and waved her hands, joking, “It’s just me.” Still, this doesn’t mean Princess Anne can’t throw shade…
Anne definitely inherited her father Prince Phillip’s, uh, direct manner of speaking, and it’s given her some absolutely legendary zingers over the years. For example, when a journalist asked her about the birth of her great-nephew Prince George in 2013, she snapped at them, “Well, it’s nothing to do with me.”
Princess Anne is an absolute workhorse, no pun intended. As one dignitary put it, “Her credo is, 'Keep me busy. I'm here to work.’” Believe me when I say that Anne has the receipts: In 2017, the palace confirmed that Princess Anne had performed the most duties out of everyone in the royal family, Queen Elizabeth II included.
The princess isn’t afraid to go where no royal has gone before. In 1990, she even became the first member of her family to visit the Soviet Union and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Although Andrew Parker Bowles and Princess Anne never made it as a couple, they have remained good friends over the years. In 2010, Anne even attended the funeral of Parker Bowles’s second wife Rosemary, and people spotted her comforting her ex on the tragic day.
Anne is a thoroughly modern princess, and spent much of her youth racking up firsts for the royal family. She was even the first member of English royalty to make an appearance as a contestant on a television quiz show; Anne graced the BBC panel show A Question of Sport with her presence on February 5, 1987.
Princess Anne has many different titles. The most common one is “Princess Royal,” but few people know why she’s called that. “Princess Royal” is actually the official title for the eldest daughter of the British monarch. The styling goes all the way back to 1642, when King Charles I’s wife Henrietta insisted that her oldest daughter get her own fancy moniker. Gotta love women supporting other women.
Princess Anne has a notoriously unflappable, devil-may-care attitude, but every now and again, her sense of humor sneaks out. When an interviewer asked her about her obsession with horses and horseback riding, the Princess immediately quipped, "Good question and how long have you got?"
On March 20, 1974, the most harrowing experience of Anne’s life took place. She and her then-husband Mark Phillips were returning with their driver to their home in Buckingham Palace when another car peeled out into the road and stopped them in their tracks. At first, the princess was confused, but soon everything became terrifyingly clear.
Suddenly, a man jumped out of the strange car and started shooting. When all was said and done, he injured Anne’s personal bodyguard, her chauffeur, and even a nearby journalist who tried to come help her. The man, who turned out to be the mentally-ill Ian Ball, then approached the vulnerable Princess and took things up a notch.
Once he got near the car, Ball grabbed onto Anne with such force that her husband had to hold her by the waist to keep her safe, ripping her dress in the melee. Though she must have been absolutely terrified, this was also the moment that the princess showed her true mettle. When Ball demanded she get out of the car, Anne’s three-word response was legendary.
“Not bloody likely!” she snapped at him. Iconic.
That wasn’t the only cool-headed quality Anne showed during the crisis. As Ball tried to convince her to get out of the car, Anne kept steadfastly refusing. As her husband Phillips put it, “You were quite obstinate about it.”
Eventually, a regular citizen saved Anne. Ronald Russell, a 6 foot 4 former boxer, happened to be passing by and assumed it was a particularly nasty road rage incident. Not realizing the gravity of the situation, he still went over and clocked Ball on the head, knocking him out and letting Anne somersault out of the car.
Newly-arrived authorities immediately closed in on Ball, defusing the situation at last. It was a chilling, bewildering moment—and the authorities only discovered Ball’s true intentions days later.
When authorities searched Ball’s car, their blood ran cold. In the rental vehicle, Ball had stashed valium, handcuffs, and a ransom note addressed to Queen Elizabeth that revealed his disturbing plan. In it, he wrote to the queen that he was holding her daughter ransom to the tune of up to three million pounds, saying that he wanted to give the money to the National Health Service.
Luckily, his plot never came to pass, and instead we got another great Princess Anne anecdote.
The no-frills Princess Anne and the girly Princess Diana were very different people, and there were whispers that the two secretly despised each other. Even after Prince Charles married Diana, making her Anne’s official sister-in-law, sharp-tongued Anne reportedly called Diana “The Dope” behind her back. Ouch.
Anne’s notorious rudeness is an equal opportunity offender; she wasn’t even afraid to insult the Prime Minister of Great Britain. According to one biographer, when Anne was introduced the Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife Cherie, the woman told Anne to call her “Cherie.” Anne’s chilly reply? "Actually, let's not go that way. Let's stick to Mrs. Blair, shall we?"
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