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Princess Anne and Family

Anne at 70: 70 facts about the Princess Royal

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The Princess Royal marks her 70th birthday on August 15th 2020 and she’s got plenty to celebrate. Princess Anne has a royal career spanning over half a century and is widely admired as one of the hardest working and most dedicated members of the House of Windsor. In recent times, she’s won a whole new range of fans. As she celebrates this big birthday, Royal Central marks the moment with 70 facts about the Princess Royal.

  1. Anne was born at 11.50am on August 15th 1950 at Clarence House, the London home of her parents, Philip and Elizabeth, then Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.
  2. She was given the names Anne, Elizabeth, Alice and Louise.
  3. Her first title was HRH Princess Anne of Edinburgh.
  4. Like all babies born at the time, Anne was given a ration book and identity card when her birth was registered.
  5. Princess Anne was christened in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace on October 21st 1950 by the then Archbishop of York, Cyril Garbett.
  6. Her godparents included both her grandmothers – the Queen Mother and Princess Alice. She had a third godmother, her paternal aunt, Princess Margarita as well as two godfathers, the Earl of Mountbatten and Andrew Elphinstone.
  7. She was third in line to the throne at birth but moved up to second on February 6th 1952 when her mother succeeded as Elizabeth II.
  8. The princess and her brother, Charles, famously hid under the Queen’s train when she got back to Buckingham Palace after the Coronation. Mama was far from amused.
  9. Princess Anne had her tonsils out in 1958 with the operation taking place at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. She was the first royal to undergo surgery at a public hospital.
  10. Anne’s earliest education took place at Buckingham Palace under the guidance of Catherine Peebles, her governess.
  11. A special Girl Guides company was re-formed in 1959 to provide Anne with the chance to be a Brownie and meet other children her own age.
  12. The Princess said she asked to leave home to go to school and became a boarder at Beneden in Kent in 1963.
  13. She gained 6 O-Levels and 2 A-Levels before leaving Beneden in 1968.
  14. The princess passed her driving test on her first attempt in 1968.
  15. Anne carried out her firsts public engagement in 1969 at the age of 18 when she opened an education centre in Shropshire.
  16. She gave her first public speech in May 1969.
  17. Princess Anne accompanied her parents on a famous trip to the White House in 1970.
  18. Her love of horses has been a major part of her life since her earliest years with her passion underlined by her father, the Duke of Edinburgh, who said of his only daughter “If it doesn’t fart or eat hay, she’s not interested.”
  19. The princess won gold at the Individual European Three Day Event Championship in 1971 and silver in the same competition in 1975.
  20. Princess Anne was the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for  1971. Her daughter, Zara, matched her achievement in 2006.
  21. Anne competed in the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976.
  22. The horse she rode at the Olympics, Goodwill, belonged to her mother, the Queen.
  23. The princess is also an accomplished flat jockey, taking part in her first race at Epsom in 1985 and landing her first winner in 1986 at Redcar.
  24. Anne famously enjoyed a romance with Andrew Parker Bowles in the early 1970s – he later married Camilla Shand who would one day become Anne’s sister-in-law as Duchess of Cornwall.
  25. Princess Anne married Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey on November 14th 1973, the 25th birthday of her older brother, the Prince of Wales.
  26. Anne chose Maureen Baker, head designer at ready to wear fashion line Susan Small, to create her wedding gown which was described as being inspired by Tudor style.
  27. The princess wore the fringe tiara used by her mother for her own wedding in 1947. It would later be worn by Princess Beatrice on her wedding day in 2020.
  28. Anne was the subject of a kidnap attempt in 1974 when her car was intercepted by an armed assailant on its way back to Buckingham Palace. When the attacker, Ian Ball, told the princess he was going to kidnap her, she replied ‘’not bloody likely’’.
  29. Four people were injured in the kidnap attempt on Princess Anne. Ian Ball pleaded guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping and was detained under the Mental Health Act.
  30. Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, declined the offer of an earldom from the Queen on their marriage to allow their future family to grow up without titles.
  31. Anne gave birth to a son, Peter Mark Andrew, on November 15th 1977, making the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh grandparents for the first time.
  32. The Princess’ second child, Zara Anne Elizabeth, was born on May 15th 1981. Both children were delivered at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.
  33. Anne and Mark Phillips confirmed their separation on August 31st 1989 and divorced on April 23rd 1992.
  34. The Princess Royal married Commander Timothy Laurence on December 12th 1992 at Crathie Church near Balmoral.
  35. Their wedding took place in Scotland as divorced people weren’t allowed to remarry in the Church of England at the time.
  36. Both Princess Anne’s engagement rings have featured sapphires.
  37. Anne was made Princess Royal in 1987 by her mother.
  38. She is the seventh woman to be styled Princess Royal and the second of them to be called Anne.
  39. She received her first official honour in 1953 when she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal.
  40. Anne received the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II in 1974.
  41. She was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in 1974 and became a Grand Master in 2007.
  42. The Princess became a Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter in 1994 and an Extra Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Thistle in 2000.
  43. Anne has also received several overseas honours including the Grand Cross of the Order of the House of Orange (1972) and the Order of Isabella the Catholic (received from Spain in 2017).
  44. Princess Anne is involved with nearly 300 charities, organisations and military regiments across the world.
  45. The Princess Royal has helped set up several charities over the past decades including the Carers Trust, Transaid and Riders for Health.
  46. The Princess Royal has been President of Save the Children since 1970.
  47. As President of Save the Children, Anne has travelled extensively to see their work in action with trips to China, Botswana and the Philippines among many others.
  48. In 1990, Anne became the first member of the Royal Family to make an official visit to the Soviet Union.
  49. Anne was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with Save the Children.
  50. The Princess Royal has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1988.
  51. Anne was a member of the Organising Committee for the 2012 London Olympics.
  52. The princess is patron of Scottish Rugby Union and is a regular at their major matches including the Six Nations Championships every year.
  53. Anne’s other sporting associations including Patron of the Royal Yachting Association and Honorary President of the British Olympic Association.
  54. The Princess Royal took part in the BBC TV game show, A Question of Sport, in 1987 as part of Emlyn Hughes’ team.
  55. The princess has a keen interest in lighthouses and has visited several around the British coast in her role as Master of the Corporation of Trinity House.
  56. She is the Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers.
  57. The Princess Royal is Chancellor of the University of London and the University of Edinburgh.
  58. In 2007, Princess Anne became a Grand Master of the Royal Victorian Order.
  59. The princess is the first royal Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
  60. Anne is also a Fellow of the Royal Society.
  61. The Princess Royal rides as a Colonel during Trooping the Colour.
  62. The Princess Royal became the first member of the Royal Family to be given a conviction when she pleaded guilty to an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act in 2002 after one of her bull terriers, Dotty, bit two children in Windsor Great Park that year.
  63. The princess has appeared several times on the cover of British Vogue.
  64. The princess is famous for wearing her clothes for decades and even wore a recycled suit to present a prize at London Fashion Week in 2020.
  65. Anne acknowledged her own public reputation with the aside ‘’ When I appear in public people expect me to neigh, grind my teeth, paw the ground and swish my tail – none of which is easy.’’
  66. Princess Anne doesn’t shake hands, explaining “The theory was you couldn’t shake hands with everybody, so don’t start.” 
  67. Princess Anne says she hates selfies
  68. The princess has said more than once that she’s glad she’s not learning to be a royal in the 21st century as she thinks the younger generation have a tougher task ahead of them.
  69. The Princess Royal became a grandmother in 2010 and has four granddaughters – Savannah Phillips (9), Isla Phillips (7), Mia Tindal (6) and Lena Tindall (2).
  70. Princess Anne’s favourite meal is devilled pheasant.

Happy Birthday!

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.