The Princess Royal is often said to be the ‘hardest working’ member of the British Royal Family and has a reputation for being a formidable and forthright personality. Seen widely as very much her father’s daughter, Her Royal Highness is a popular character and a tenacious supporter of charitable causes.
On the 15th August 1950, just before midday, HRH Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh (the future Queen Elizabeth II) gave birth to Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise Mountbatten-Windsor (although she was not named until two weeks after the birth) at Clarence House in London. HM The Queen (later the Queen Mother) was already with HRH Princess Elizabeth when HRH Princess Anne was born, but HM The King was on a shooting holiday in Balmoral and was telephoned by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The infant princess was the first baby to be born in Clarence House since 1825 and seemed to usher in a new era of modernity.
The Princess Royal had a typical royal childhood. She was privately tutored, along with two friends, by Scottish governess Miss Peebles at the Royal Palaces and cared for by nannies and attendants. Princess Anne was also part of the Buckingham Palace Girl Guide Group (founded in the Second World War and started again by Princess Margaret when Princess Anne was a small girl). The Girl Guide Group brought together the children of royals, courtiers and servants in outdoor adventure and fun. The young Princess was also engaged in a variety of country pursuits under the instruction of her father, Prince Philip. She was even able to drive a small boat at the age of nine!
In 1969, at the age of 18, Princess Anne started public work. Visiting Shropshire, she opened an educational centre, beginning a lifetime of public service.
The first charity with which Her Royal Highness became closely involved was Save the Children UK, and she has been its President since 1970. The Presidency of Save the Children UK gave Princess Anne a unique opportunity to understand the problems of developing nations and to help with education across the globe. Her charitable campaigning has seen The Princess Royal travel to China, Cambodia, Botswana, Madagascar and The Philippines. In addition to Save the Children UK, Her Royal Highness is involved with 300 other charities and organisations, helping to set up The Princess Royal’s Trust for Carers (now Carers Trust), Transaid and Riders for Health.
The Princess Royal is also an international sporting figure, having competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games as part of the British equestrian team. Her expertise in this area led the Princess to become a member of the International Olympic Committee, and she played a crucial role in the organisation of the London 2012 Olympic Games. In 1971, Her Royal Highness became the first member of the Royal Family to named BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.
On the 20th March 1974, The Princess Royal was involved in a kidnapping attempt in which four people were shot and wounded whilst trying to protect her. Her attacker, Ian Ball, demanded £2-3 million (sources vary in the exact amount) and told Princess Anne to get out of the car, to which she replied, “Not bloody likely!” The Princess Royal later spoke of how she had considered using force against Ball but decided not to because he had a firearm.
On Wednesday, 14th November 1973, Princess Anne married Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey to a television audience of 100 million across the world. In 1992, they divorced after a difficult couple of years during which they were effectively separated. Princess Anne had two children with Mark Phillips, Peter and Zara, and chose not to give them royal titles.
In December of 1992, The Princess Royal married Timothy Lawrence, an officer in the Royal Navy, in a Church of Scotland ceremony. The Church of Scotland does not hold marriage to be a sacrament and therefore permits divorced persons to remarry.