Regarded as one of the hardest working and most popular members of the Royal Family, Princess Anne is the second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She was born at Clarence House on August 15, 1950, joining her older brother Prince Charles. Initially educated at Buckingham Palace by her private tutor, Catherine Peebles, she went on to attend Benenden School in Kent.
To those of a certain vintage, Princess Anne is inextricably linked with equestrian sports. Being Queen Elizabeth’s daughter, it is no surprise that Anne shared her mother’s affinity with horses from an early age. She shared a pony named William with her brother before entering the public competition at age 11.
Despite being expected to take up public duties after leaving school, Anne continued to train under the guidance of Alison Oliver with a view to becoming a professional rider. Her proficiency quickly became apparent, becoming the first British royal to win the prestigious European Eventing Championships in 1971. As a result, another royal first followed after she was named BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year. After a series of injuries and near misses, Anne’s ultimate dream of Olympic participation came to fruition when she was selected for the 1976 games in Montreal. While her performance proved anticlimactic, her trademark no-nonsense attitude was evident as she shrugged off a fall-induced concussion to complete her round.
The world of equestrianism led to Anne’s first marriage to Captain Mark Philips. An Olympic gold medalist himself, the pair married in 1973 and went on to have two children, Peter and Zara, neither of whom were given royal titles as Anne thought they would “be better off” without them. [Following her parents’ lead, Zara is an Olympic silver medallist and former Eventing World Champion.] After a period of separation from 1989, Anne and Mark Philips divorced in 1992. Princess Royal married her second husband, Sir Timothy Laurence, in the same year at Crathie Kirk near Balmoral Castle. They met on board the Royal Yacht Britannia while Laurance was serving as a commander in the Royal Navy.
In the style of her mother, Princess Anne has displayed a relentless work ethic since first representing the monarchy at 18 years of age. She is officially involved with over 200 charities and organisations and is said to have carried out over 20,000 engagements throughout her life. Referred to as the Royal Family’s “trustiest anchor”, she is perhaps best known for her work as president of Save the Children from 1970 to 2017. Her genuine immersion in the intricacies of the organisation led to a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 1990 by the President of Zambia.
Public fondness for Princess Anne has rarely wavered due to her dedication, rapier-like wit and low-maintenance approach to royal life. She insists on doing her own hair and make-up and regularly drives herself to engagements. Perhaps more than any other member of the Royal Family, she has retained her streak of individuality while remaining a vital cog in the machinery of a monarchy.