Princess Anne ‘let guard drop’ claims expert
Anne’s first marriage to fellow equestrian Mark Phillips surprised royal watchers, as they had both denied any romance between the two of them to the speculative press. Despite high hopes that their shared hobby would bind their marriage together, they separated after 16 years. The couple divorced in 1992, amid allegations that tensions had started to rise behind closed doors and claims that they were both being unfaithful.
Both have since remarried and Anne often brings her second husband, Sir Timothy Laurence, to large royal gatherings.
Little is known about Anne’s private life, because the Princess Royal usually operates in line with the unofficial royal mantra of ‘never complain, never explain’.
However, according to an unearthed biography by author Nicholas Courtney, ‘Princess Anne’, the royal has previously provided some comments from before her divorce which now cast a light on the breakdown of her first marriage.
Mr Courtney claimed Anne once said: “When you’re married, you are not living on your own.
“You’re living with another person, and you have to adapt to some degree.
“It’s the same when you have children, the whole structure of your life changes….”
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Anne with her first husband Mark Phillips
Anne has two children with her first husband, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips.
She continued: “Really, if you didn’t change as you went along you’d be a bit of a disaster; that’s what life is all about really — adapting to experiences.”
But, she also admitted that the problems she and Mark experienced in the first two years of their marriage were “not the same kind, I’d have thought, that many couples of our age have”.
After their 1973 wedding, Anne and Mark lived at Oak Grove House on the grounds of the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst.
But, with such an active military career, Mark later complained they spent very little time together – Anne was also occupied by the demands of being a working senior royal.
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Mark and Anne wed in 1973
He said that at the end of 1976, “we never seemed to be at home together” but just “sort of met in passing”.
According to Mr Courtney, Mark said: “We certainly don’t spend as much time together as we would like.”
The biography also claimed that Mark suffered from a short temper when tired, and “found official visits tiring and hard standing around for hours”.
Mr Courtney continued: “In those early days when he accompanied Princess Anne on some of her engagements, she sometimes found it difficult having him ‘tagging along at functions and things’.”
The biographer claimed: “It is the house monitor syndrome from her [Anne’s] school days when, being so good herself at her job, she could not see how others could not grasp the situation and shine like her.”
The couple reportedly developed a routine and managed to squeeze in breakfast together each day, but it was not long before cracks began to develop.
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Mark and Anne had marital issues from early in their marriage
The couple were fellow equestrians
Anne later admitted they “did not come into contact with many other young marrieds the way other people do”, which may have impacted how they adjusted into their new married life.
She was 23 when they tied the knot while Mark was 25, meaning the couple were still in their youth and had to cope with the pressure of having a very public marriage.
Anne later implied she felt removed from her peers.
She explained: “There are one or two couple here either one or other of us have known previously but very few.
“Most of my friends — girls I was at school with — are married and living in London, or Scotland, or scattered about so there’s not much chance of competition.”
Anne and Mark with their children Zara and Peter
The couple’s split in 1989 is thought to have been accelerated by claims Anne had four love letters from equerry Timothy Laurence.
Then, in 1991, DNA results proved that Mark had fathered a child while married to Anne, despite his initial denials.
The following year, their divorce was finalised — Anne remarried just months later in a church in Scotland, as the Church of England forbade remarriage at the time.
‘Princess Anne: A Biography’ by Nicholas Courtney was published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in 1986, and is available here.