Princess Anne never lived an enchanted life, but unlike her peers in the royal family, she was initially unlucky in love. She finally found her prince charming after a scandal that shocked the whole of Britain.
Today, Princess Anne leads a happy marriage with the love of her life, Sir Timothy Lawrence. However, the road to marital bliss is one of rough terrain. She had several unsuccessful teenage romances with polo player Sandy Harper and Prince Harry’s godfather, Gerald Ward.
In her late teens and early twenties, the Princess fell in love with Richard Meade, a passionate and skilled horseman. However, their relationship hit a wall. According to some reports, Prince Philip was behind the split, as the twelve-year age difference between Meade and Anne did not sit well with his tenure.
Princess Anne, Princess Royal attends the Epsom Derby at Epsom Racecourse on June 4, 2022 in Epsom, England. | Source: Getty Images
In 1970, the Princess dated Andrew Parker Bowles, who would become Camilla’s husband. The relationship ended because Bowles was Catholic and technically could not marry the princess.
ANNE’S FIRST MARRIAGE BEGAN LIKE A FAIRY TALE
The Princess’s failed romance with Bowles may have seemed the end of the road for her love life, but in 1973 she married Captain Mark Phillips. The couple met over their love of horses after being introduced at an event in Mexico City.
Princess Anne with Captain Mark Phillips before their wedding on July 22, 1973. | Source: Getty Images
On May 29, 1973, Phillips proposed to the princess with a diamond and sapphire ring. After announcing the engagement, they were asked:
¨Do you think that marriage can withstand the great pressures of public office and publicity that you have to bear?¨
can ? You have to, don’t you?¨ replied Anne. They married six months later, in November, at Westminster Abbey, in a televised ceremony that drew 500 million viewers. 1500 guests attended.
Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips wave to cheering crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace November 14 after their wedding at Westminster Abbey. | Source: Getty Images
The happy couple welcomed their first son Peter Phillips in 1977, followed by daughter Zara Phillips Tindall in 1981. After the birth of their children, the couple enjoyed another three years of marriage without the destruction has yet to begin.
By 1984, their marriage had deteriorated so much that the couple moved to different hotels every time they traveled.
ANNE’S SECRET AFFAIR WITH HER MOTHER’S SERVANT WAS REVEALED BY THE THIEF
In 1989, while she was still married to Phillip, Anne became the center of a scandal that shook the whole of Great Britain. It all started when Sun revealed to have received, anonymously, letters written by the princess.
Princess Anne and Tim Laurence worship on Easter Sunday at Windsor Castle in April 2009 | Source: Getty Images
Stolen from the Palace, all the letters were written in the same handwriting in black ink. While the publication did not reveal the identity of the mysterious author or the content of the stolen letters, the Palace released a statement saying:
¨The stolen letters were addressed to the Princess Royal by Commander Timothy Laurence, the Queen’s Esquire¨.
Princess Anne, Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence attend a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force from the balcony of Buckingham Palace on July 10, 2018 in London, England | Source: Getty Images
Friends and neighbors attest to the new relationship between Anne and Laurence, with one claiming that the latter has been thinking about Anne since they first met in 1968. On the other hand, Anne treats Laurence as his confidant. A friend said:
¨ Obviously, Tim and the princess are physically attracted to each other, but their friendship goes beyond that. Tim fills the princess’ loneliness and gives her a shoulder to cry on when she needs someone to talk to about her problems.
“She understands her tantrums and the bad publicity she gets. But most of all, she cares about him like her husband doesn’t.” they added. Anne’s romance is called ‘The Real Princess Anne’
Princess Anne at the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Mr Thomas Kingston at St George’s Chapel on May 18, 2019 in Windsor, England | Source: Getty Images
After these letters were made public, Phillips and Anne soon separated but promised not to divorce. However, in 1991 their marriage suffered another blow when new evidence emerged that Phillips had an illegitimate 5-year-old daughter, Felicity.
The revelations came after Heather Tonkin, an art teacher from New Zealand, told the Daily Express that although Phillips did not deny her son, she did not acknowledge him and put his name on his birth certificate.
Phillips initially denied the charges but soon after further revelations claimed he had paid a total of £6,000 a year to Tonkin under the guise of hiring him as a consultant for “equestrian matters”.
Mark Phillips attends the first day of the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park on August 7, 2015 in Stroud, England. | Source: Getty Images
Tonkin also recounted that Phillips asked her to terminate her pregnancy and only left after the payments were made.
In a shocking turn of events, it also emerged that Phillips’ agent John Erskine had threatened her, saying he would make her life miserable. Despite their promise not to divorce, Anne and Phillips’ marriage officially ended in 1992 after 20 years together.
ANNE HAD TO LEAVE ENGLAND TO MARRY THE MAN SHE LOVES
Freed from her unhappy marriage to Phillips, Anne and Laurence began officially dating but chose to keep a low profile. They rarely appear together in photos or in public.
Princess Anne, Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence attend the third day of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 17, 2021 in Ascot, England. | Source: Getty Images
The very year of Anne’s divorce, Laurence offered her a sapphire and diamond ring.
They married later that year, but had to leave England and marry in Scotland, as the Church of England did not allow divorcees to remarry. Only members of the royal family attended the event, where Anne’s daughter, Zara, served as a bridesmaid.
Despite their differences in interests – Anne is a fan of horses, while Laurence is not – they are united by their shared love of rugby. They have been married for 29 years and are excited to celebrate their 30th anniversary this year.
Timothy Laurence and Princess Anne, Princess Royal, at the Flag Parade on June 2, 2022 in London, England | Source: Getty Images
Sometimes referred to as Anne’s “invisible man”, Laurence never does royal business alone, unlike other royal consorts such as Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
However, he supported his wife during the royal engagements and became the princess’s rock for the past three decades. If they hadn’t revealed the secret of such a long and happy marriage, many would have suspected that their shared sense of humor would have topped the list.
At an event to mark Founder’s Day at Chelsea Royal Hospital, Laurence joked that he and Anne were both supporters of Tottenham Hotspur football club. “I know it’s a dangerous thing to say here in Chelsea, so I need an escort when I leave.” he added, leaving the audience speechless.
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