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Happy Birthday Princess Anne! 21 Interesting Facts About The Princess Royal

Her Royal Highness Anne, the Princess Royal turns 72 years old today, August 15. She was born Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise on August 15, 1950, at Clarence House, during the reign of her grandfather, King George VI. 

Christening of Princess Anne, October 21, 1950. Standing from left were her godparents: Lord Louis Mountbatten, Princess Margarita of Hohenlohe-Langeburg, The Hon. Andrew Elphinstone. Seated from left: Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone (representing Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh holding Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth. In front is Prince Charles. Photo from The Royal Collection Trust

Her godparents were: Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl of Burma (maternal uncle of Prince Philip), Princess Margarita of Hohenlohe-Langeburg (older sister of Prince Philip), The Honorable Andrew Elphinstone (nephew of her maternal grandmother, Queen Elizabeth), and her paternal grandmother, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark (she was represented by Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone during the christening).

Princess Anne is the second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Between August 15, 1950, and February 6, 1952, she was known as Her Royal Highness Princess Anne of Edinburgh.

The young family of Prince Philip before Princess Elizabeth's accession to the throne
Princess Anne accompanied her mother during a state visit to Austria in 1972

On her 18th birthday, her mother gifted her a tiara, the Greek Meander Tiara (worn by Princess Anne in the above photo), which was a gift of Prince Philip to Princess Elizabeth on the occasion of their royal wedding on November 20, 1947. 

Prince Charles, Prince Philip, Princess Anne, and The Queen

The Greek Meander Tiara was a family heirloom that previously belonged to Prince Philip's mother, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark (born Princess Alice of Battenberg). And believed to be a gift of Queen Olga to Princess Alice.

Princess Anne is a working royal and performs official duties, representing her mother. She also holds more than 300 patronages in the United Kingdom

She is often called the hardest working member of the British royal family due to the number of royal engagements she performed in a year, which often surpassed her nephew, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.

Princess Anne held by her mother, then Princess Elizabeth, Prince Charles held by his father, Prince Philip

The Queen, Prince Philip, and their four young children

The Queen and Prince Philip's 60th wedding anniversary portrait with their four children

Here are 21 interesting facts about Princess Anne:

  • She was third in the line of succession to the British throne when she was born in 1950. She became second-in-line to the throne in 1952 when her mother ascended the British throne
  • In February 1960, Princess Anne became third in line of succession to the throne when her younger brother, Prince Andrew, was born. Today, she is 17th in the line of succession, behind her niece, Lady Louise Windsor.
  • At the age of 21, she won the individual European Three-Day Event at Burghley and was voted BBC's Sports Personality of the Year in 1971. 
  • For over five years she competed with the British eventing team, winning a silver medal in both individual and team disciplines in the 1975 European Three-Day Event Championships held in Germany.
  • She represented the United Kingdom as part of Team Great Britain in the equestrian event during the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
  • On November 14, 1973, on the 25th birthday of Prince Charles, she married fellow eventing champion who also served the army, Mark Phillips. They have two children, Peter and Zara. 
  • She was the first member of the House of Windsor to use the surname, Mountbatten-Windsor, when she registered her marriage to Mark Phillips in 1973.
  • In 1989, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips' marriage fell apart. Their legal separation was announced, and their divorce was finalized in March 1992. 
  • She remarried Timothy Laurence, a Commodore of the Royal Navy, in December 1992, in Scotland. They have no children.

Princess Anne and her father, Prince Philip, taking charge of a family barbeque one summer in Balmoral.
Princess Anne and Prince Philip at the top of his Land Rover. At their back: the young Prince Andrew
  • Prince Philip once said that among his four children, it's Princess Anne who inherited his personality and behavior.
  • She often helped her father do barbeques during their summer holiday in Balmoral. She revealed during an interview in 2021 that Prince Philip had a Land Rover in Balmoral with a specially-designed barbeque kit at the back. "The trailer was designed specifically for that role", she said.
  • Her permanent residence is at Gatcombe Park, a country estate in Gloucestershire, which was a wedding gift from her parents when she married Mark Phillips in 1973.
  • It was believed her first husband, Mark Phillips, was offered by her mother an Earldom but both Princess Anne and Mark Phillips refused to accept the title.
  • In March 1974, she was nearly kidnapped when a man named Ian Ball, attacked the car she and her husband, Mark Phillips, were riding, wounding her bodyguard and driver. The attempted kidnapping was reportedly the inspiration for Tom Clancy's novel, Patriot Games, published in 1987, and was made into a movie in 1992, starring Harrison Ford.
  • By bloodline, she is a Glucksburg princess. Her father, Prince Philip, was a male line descendant of King George I of Greece and King Christian IX of Denmark who both reigned under the House of Glucksburg. Today, Denmark and Norway are the royal houses in Europe that reigned under the House name of Glucksburg.
The Princess Royal and her two children, Peter and Zara
  • Her mother conferred her the ancient title of Princess Royal in 1987. It is the traditional title of the eldest daughter of the British monarch but it is not automatically acquired. It needed to be conferred to the title holder by the monarch.
  • She is the 7th Princess Royal in British history. The first Princess Royal was Princess Mary, the eldest daughter of King Charles I (Stuart), who married William II, Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of Holland.
  • Her direct predecessor as Princess Royal was her great-aunt, Princess Mary. Countess of Harewood. Her mother, the Queen, was not conferred with the title during the reign of King George VI because the Princess Royal title holder, the Countess of Harewood, was still alive during that time. 
  • She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize Award in 1990 for her works in the Save the Children Foundation.
  • In 1988, she became a member of the International Olympic Committee.
  • On April 23, 1994, she was honored by her mother as Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.
The young Princess Anne

Princess Anne and her mother, then Princess Elizabeth

Princess Anne's 70th birthday portrait in 2020

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