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Princess Anne and Family

Princess Anne, a central figure at the heart of the reign of King Charles III

As the newly crowned King Charles made his way back to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey, he was surrounded by the biggest military parade London had seen in seven decades. And riding at its head was his sister, The Princess Royal. It was a striking moment, the first time a woman had taken such a role in almost 1000 years of royal history. And it was a very public demonstration of the place Princess Anne holds in this new era. For since Charles III took the throne, she has played an increasingly central role in the Royal Family.

The pride of a Princess – Anne watches Charles emerge from Buckingham Palace after she had ridden at the head of the military parade at his Coronation (BBC still/ fair use)

The Princess was with The King at Balmoral at the moment his reign began. The two siblings had been with their mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in the final hours of her life. When Her Late Majesty died, at 3.10pm on September 8th 2022, the Princess Royal was at her brother’s side. And as he left for London the following day, now Monarch, Anne was left to accompany their ‘darling mama’ on her final journey. She never left her side. Her devotion, including straight backed curtsies to the coffin on more than one occasion, was unmistakable.

Her Royal Highness was also at her brother’s side as they stood vigil for Elizabeth II, first in St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh and then at Westminster Hall in London. And as King Charles III walked behind the funeral procession on the final journey of the longest reigning Monarch in British history, it was Anne who stood with him.

Once official mourning was over, the Princess Royal returned to her hectic diary of royal duties but the focus of the family increasingly fell on her work. While Anne has long turned in several hundred engagements a year, often under the royal radar, there was more interest in what she was doing.

Just weeks after her mother’s death, Princess Anne was back to her high level of royal engagements (British Horse Society)

Furthermore, her brother was intent on placing more responsibilities on her shoulders. In the early part of his reign, he named her Senior Colonel of the Household Division while she also took on the role of  Deputy Colonel-in-Chief of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, a few months later. The King took on the role of Colonel-in-Chief.

Sgt Donald C Todd/ UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023 Sgt Donald C Todd/ UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

The Princess rode alongside The King at Trooping the Colour and took her place at the Order of the Garter ceremony as Charles III oversaw it as Sovereign for the first time. And as summer arrived and the Royal Family headed back to Balmoral, it was Anne who accompanied The King and Queen.

Stephen Lock / i-Images

Princess Anne has never sought the limelight, carrying out her duties in a way that has won praise from many for her hard work and deep interest in the roles she performs. However, there’s little doubt that in the reign of her older brother, she is increasingly centre stage. And there’s little doubt, too, that His Majesty relies on and trusts his sister implicitly. She is a vital part of the court of King Charles III.

Hugo Burnand

After leading the military parade at the Coronation, she took her place on the Buckingham Palace balcony to greet the crowds before joining the official photos. While his consort stood to one side, as is traditional, the position on the other side was reserved for Anne, cementing her position at the heart of this reign. On her birthday, August 15th, the Royal Family chose to celebrate with a special image taken on the day Charles III was crowned showing the strong bond between brother and sister.

It’s a bond that’s lasted over seventy years and which, as a new reign begins, has proved to be more important than ever.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and 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 who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. 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.