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Before they were royal: The life of Autumn Phillips

Autumn Phillips is the wife of Peter Phillips, son of Princess Anne and eldest grandchild of HM Queen Elizabeth II. She was born Autumn Patricia Kelly on the 3rd May 1978 in Montreal, Canada and has a twin brother, Chris and elder brother, Kevin. She grew up in a Catholic home and went to church schools until she went to McGill University; whilst at university, she also appeared in the film Rainbow and television series Sirens. Her close friend from school was the actress Casey McKinnon.

She graduated from McGill in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in East Asian studies and began work as a management consultant. Just a year later in 2003, she happened to be at the Canadian Grand Prix working as an event organiser for BMW, and she was in the Williams BMW Hospitality suite when she met Peter Phillips. She had no idea who this attractive lad was. He, very quickly, got her mobile number and e-mail address and invited her and her friends to the post-race party but she still accepted the invite and the subsequent messages by e-mail and text.

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There were two extraordinary twists of fate; earlier in the day, Autumn had accepted a post working for a computer company which would mean her moving to England. Perhaps even more astonishing, was the fact that the one vital piece of information Peter had not got was her name. One of his colleagues in error said of all names Megan – it would be some time later his cousin Prince Harry would fall for a Meghan who was living in Toronto!

But there were identity mix-ups on both sides of the relationship; Peter just did not happen to mention the august family he was related to. It was only after staying with Peter in Oxford for a week, and then when watching television with her mother and seeing the handsome lad she had been staying with standing next to Prince William at his eighteenth birthday that the penny dropped. When Autumn moved to the UK, she met more of his family including his younger sister, Zara and Lady Helen Chatto, daughter of the late Princess Margaret.

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Slowly she was introduced to more of the Royal Family, and after a period of living together, they were engaged and later married at St George’s Chapel in Windsor on 17th May 2008. Peter was first of The Queen’s grandchildren to marry.

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