Princess Anne was recently portrayed in Netflix’s season three of The Crown as arguably the most down-to-earth royal. The messy love debacle between Princess Anne, Andrew Parker Bowles, Camilla Shand, and Prince Charles is sufficiently covered, and yet, viewers do not get a glimpse of Princess Anne’s attempted kidnapping, Olympic competition, or wedding day in 1973, even though the season spans through 1977.
To make up for this, we’re delving into all of the details of Princess Anne’s first wedding. She was the first of the Queen’s children to get married—and to a commoner, so it was a big deal!
Princess Anne met Captain Mark Phillips in 1968, but the public didn’t find out about their courtship until they announced their engagement five years later. In fact, her own press office and the Queen didn’t even know about the couple’s engagement plans. Princess Anne kept her relationship with Captain Phillips so clandestine that she would hide him in her tack box. This hiding spot is incredibly fitting as they met at a horse enthusiast event in Mexico City.
On May 29, 1973, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips made their engagement official, and they made an appearance the following morning on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. She flashed a sapphire and diamond engagement ring, from Garrard Jewelers, which is notably smaller than the sapphire and diamond ring Diana would later wear. Her more modest jewels were likely chosen in recognition of the tough British economic climate at the time.
THE WEDDING DRESS
Six months after their engagement, Princess Anne wore a gown designed by Maureen Baker, chief designer of the Susan Small label. The silk dress was Tudor-style with medieval trumpet sleeves (just look at them!) and a seven-foot train.
She wore Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara, the same one her mother wore on her wedding day. Apparently, Queen Victoria gave Queen Mary a necklace for her wedding gift, and Queen Mary turned it into a tiara! That’s what we do with the extra jewels we have just lying around, too. LOL. Queen Mary would later bequeath the crown to Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), who would loan the tiara to both her daughter (Queen Elizabeth) and her granddaughter (Princess Anne).
More than 2,000 guests were present, while a reported 500 million viewers watched the televised coverage of the wedding. Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco were among the invited guests. Royals from Spain, Norway, and Greece were also in attendance.
THE WEDDING CEREMONY
On November 14, 1973, in the hallowed halls of Westminster Abbey, Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips. (It is worth noting that this was also Prince Charles’s 25th birthday.) She walked down the aisle with her father, The Duke of Edinburgh, as the song “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” played.
The gold in her ring was the same Welsh gold used in her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her aunt’s wedding bands. Her bouquet included flowers from a myrtle bush that was grown from a sprig from Queen Victoria’s bouquet.
After signing the wedding registry, the royal family walked out to an assortment of music, including Captain Phillips’s regiment’s march “Radetzky March” by Johann Strauss.
Wedding guests enjoyed partridge, lobster, and ice cream. The wedding cake was five-tiers and the same height as Princess Anne (five-feet and six inches). The royal newlyweds honeymooned in Barbados on the Royal Yacht Britannia.
AFTER THE WEDDING
Like most newly-inducted royals, Captain Phillips was offered an earldom after his wedding but declined. He instead became the Personal Aide-de-Camp to the Queen.
Princess Anne’s wedding, while historically significant, may not have even been the most intriguing event for her in the 1970s. As we mentioned, she would go on survive an attempted kidnapping in 1974, and she joined the British Equestrian team in the 1976 Olympics. She and Captain Phillips had two children: Peter, born in 1977, and Zara, born in 1981. Princess Anne chose to decline royal titles for her children, which they believe she “quite rightly” chose.
The couple remained together until their separation in 1989, divorcing three years later. Both went on to remarry. Princess Anne married Timothy Laurence in 1992. Her second wedding was drastically smaller and more private than her first wedding—only 30 guests were in attendance. The couple married in Scotland, as the Church of England would not let divorcées remarry if a former spouse was still alive. The press was not allowed to enter the Scottish church. If The Crown’s depiction is any indication, she probably loved having a more intimate affair.