Details About Princess Anne's Life And Duties

Princess Anne is arguably one of the most overlooked members of the royal family, yet one of the most hardworking. She had 387 official engagements in 2021 alone, per the Daily Mail. You might argue that it's perhaps easy to take on many responsibilities as a pampered princess, but Vanity Fair reported that Anne would have chosen a hands-on career even if she wasn't a part of the British royal family, as she once shared that she'd instead be an engineer.

Anne is also famously very private, so she hasn't revealed much about her life, but the late Princess Diana gave insight into her relationship with the royal in the book "Diana: Her True Story — in Her Own Words" (via Vanity Fair). "We get on incredibly well, but in our own way," Diana explained to Andrew Morton of Anne. "I wouldn't ring her up if I had a problem, nor would I go and have lunch with her, but when I see her it's very nice to see her. Her mind stimulates me, she fascinates me, she's very independent and she's gone her own way." 

Princess Anne's independence can also be observed in the way she distances herself from the chaos that comes with being born into royalty, while still stepping up to the plate as a working royal. These details about her life and duties reveal why she is such an important member of the royal family.

Princess Anne lost her spot in the line of succession

Princess Anne is the second child of the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, but she is 16th in the line of succession to the throne — far behind older brother King Charles III. You may be wondering why Anne is so far down in line. Well, it turns out that the princess grew up during a time when all male siblings born after her were placed ahead of her in the line of succession. This is why Anne's younger brothers, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, took her spot. 

In 2013, the Succession to the Crown Act changed the way the order of succession is determined. Gender is no longer a factor. The act reads: "In determining the succession to the Crown, the gender of a person born after 28 October 2011 does not give that person, or that person's descendants, precedence over any other person (whenever born)."

Unfortunately for Anne, this act only applies to royal family members born after 2011, so she remains in the 16th spot in the line of succession. When the Succession to the Crown Act went into place, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron spoke about why it was important to eradicate the outdated rules. "The idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he's a man ... this way of thinking is at odds with the modern countries that we've all become," he said during a speech (via CNN).

Many royal duties fall on the princess' shoulders

As previously mentioned, Princess Anne is often thought of as the hardest-working member of the royal family — but she took on even more responsibilities after the deaths of her mother and father, respectively in September 2022 and April 2021. According to The New York Times, Anne has since become an adviser to her brother, King Charles III. However, historian Edward Owens revealed that this was nothing new for the princess, who has been known to take pride in her royal duties. "Growing up when she did, Anne appreciated that the monarchy could only survive if it could justify its existence," Owens told The New York Times. "She's always recognized that the family can only enjoy the privileges of royal life if they work hard."

Anne's long list of responsibilities includes her involvement with over 300 organizations and military regiments, according to the royal family's website. She has also helped to create a number of charities, including Save the Children, Carers Trust, Transaid, and Riders for Health. When the princess' children opened up about her hard-working nature in the 2020 documentary "Anne: The Princess Royal at 70," daughter Zara Tindall said (via Yahoo! Life), "Age is not a thing to her. It's very much, the more she keeps doing, the younger she'll stay."

Her impressive equestrian career led her to the Olympics

Princess Anne's impressive equestrian career took her all the way to the becoming an Olympic competitor. Anne first began mastering horseback riding at 11 years old, and years later was named BBC's Sports Personality of the Year. Her skills led her to compete in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, according to the royal family's website, as well as the European Three-Day Event Championships twice. In addition to earning an individual gold medal during her debut appearance in 1971, she was also awarded silver medals for her skills in both the individual and team disciplines in 1975.

While Anne ultimately did not nab any Olympic medals, her brief competitive stint led to her continued affiliation with the Olympics years later, as both the President of the British Olympic Association and a Member of the International Olympic Committee, as of this writing. In her 2020 interview with Vanity Fair, she revealed why she was so passionate about her chosen sport. "I thought if I was going to do anything outside of the royal family, horses was likely to be the best way of doing it," Princess Anne said. 

The British royal also went on to explain the importance of choosing the right horse, saying, "The original horse I rode was bred as a polo pony and should never have been an event horse, but it worked, so that was very satisfying. But I always knew it was going to be limited time."

Princess Anne was almost kidnapped

An attempted kidnapping in 1974 put Princess Anne's courageousness on display. Per Smithsonian Magazine, she was in a limousine with then-husband Captain Mark Phillips, as well as her lady-in-waiting and a bodyguard, while traveling to Buckingham Palace when a Ford Escort stopped Anne's vehicle on the road. The armed would-be kidnapper, Ian Ball, then exited the Ford and shot the princess' bodyguard, Inspector Jim Beaton, as well as the royal's driver and a journalist named John Brian McConnell, who had attempted to help. Ball demanded that Anne get out of the car, but she refused. 

"I kept saying I didn't want to get out of the car, and I was not going to get out of the car," Anne recounted to authorities. When cleaning executive Ronald Russell jumped into the fray after driving by the scene, she was able to distract Ball long enough for Russell to attack him, explaining, "I thought that if I was out of the car that he might move." Following arrest, Ball was admitted to a mental health facility.

Anne later reflected on how her equestrian training came in handy during the incident. "Strangely, I had thought about it before that, 'What would you do if?'" she said in ITV's "Anne: The Princess Royal at 70" documentary (via the Mirror). "One thing about horses and sport is you have to prepare for the unexpected, and you've got to think your way through the problems that are likely to occur. I suppose that was the discipline which I suppose to some extent colored my thought processes."

She and Captain Mark Phillips had a rocky marriage

Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips met in 1968 at a horse-riding event, per People. While the pair likely connected over their shared love for horseback riding, Anne may have also been drawn to Phillips because of his impressive military background. After attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he became a second lieutenant while serving in the Army, according to Town & Country, before ultimately rising to the rank of captain. Though the two didn't immediately strike a romantic relationship, they ultimately tied the knot in 1973. 

Their royal nuptials were unsurprisingly lavish and star-studded, as well as the first to be televised. However, the heightened media attention and spectacle surrounding the seemingly loved-up couple, who later welcomed two children, unfortunately wouldn't translate into longtime marital bliss. Both Anne and Phillips were subjected to scandal surrounding alleged infidelity, per Harper's Bazaar, with the most shocking detail arguably being Phillips admittedly fathering a third child with Heather Tonkin, a teacher from New Zealand. However, by the time this came out in 1991, the couple had already been separated for two years: In 1989, it was reported that Anne had received romantic letters from Timothy Laurence, who was an equerry for Queen Elizabeth at the time, according to People.

Anne and Phillips finally divorced in 1992 — and Laurence, of course, would soon become to princess' second husband.

The princess' love life was dictated by her duties at times

As a member of the royal family, Princess Anne has always been expected to uphold a favorable public image. Even as a young adult, she still had to consider her relatives' opinions on her potential romantic partners. Take, for example, when the princess began dating Olympian Richard Meade, according to Express, around 1970. Prince Philip reportedly did not approve of the couple's 12-year age gap, and a 20-year-old Anne eventually complied and parted ways with her older boyfriend. 

"She wasn't spiteful, she wasn't bitter," royal journalist Angela Levin said in the 2021 documentary "Princess Anne: The 7 Loves of Her Life" (via Express). Around this time, Anne also had an alleged fling with Andrew Parker Bowles — the man who, at 11 years her senior, would later marry and divorce Queen Consort Camilla Parker Bowles. Per Elle, this fling was short-lived because Andrew was Catholic, and thus prohibited from marrying a royal in the line of succession.

After numerous short-lived romances and her ill-fated marriage to Captain Mark Phillips, Anne swiftly moved on with now-husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence. Their 1992 wedding in Scotland was a much smaller affair than Anne's 1973 nuptials, but luckily, these lovebirds have been able to find humor in their rocky past. "It's quite amusing that she married first an army officer and then a naval officer," Laurence quipped of his wife in the "Anne: The Princess Royal at 70" doc (via People). "So there must be something about the military that attracts her."

Princess Anne didn't give her children royal titles

It seems that Princess Anne aimed to provide her children with ex-husband Mark Phillips a sense of normalcy despite their heritage, because she decided not to give them royal titles. "I think it was probably easier for them, and I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles," she told Vanity Fair. "So I think that was probably the right thing to do." Some might say that Anne has been successful in keeping her two children out of the spotlight because they've gone on to live relatively quiet lives.

However, the princess' daughter, Zara Tindall, momentarily captured the world's attention when she competed in the 2012 Olympics. Anne herself suggested that Tindall may have inherited her athleticism from her parents. "Her father had been a successful equestrian and won a lot more medals [than I] so you do slightly wonder if having two parents who've been in that situation helped," she told Vanity Fair. "Zara was always a natural and it was really a question of whether she felt that was something she really wanted to do, and she did and she was very thorough and applied herself to it. So she was quite rightly very successful." 

Meanwhile, Anne's son, Peter Phillips, lives a private life as a businessman.

She carried on after the deaths of her parents

Princess Anne made history when she walked behind Prince Philip's casket during his royal funeral procession in 2021. As the daughter of the prince, some might argue that Anne had good reason to go against the years-old rule that only permits men to be part of funeral processions within the royal family. The princess also released a statement following her father's death that proved just how close she was with the late prince. "My father has been my teacher, my supporter and my critic, but mostly it is his example of a life well lived and service freely given that I most wanted to emulate," read her statement in part, which was later shared to the royal family's Instagram.

Nearly a year and a half later, Anne lost her mother, Queen Elizabeth II. In a statement shared on Twitter, she revealed that she was with the queen in her last hours: "I was fortunate to share the last 24 hours of my dearest Mother's life. It has been an honour and a privilege to accompany her on her final journeys. Witnessing the love and respect shown by so many on these journeys has been both humbling and uplifting." 

Despite spending those emotional last moments with her mother, Anne flew from London to Scotland to take care of her royal duties just one day after the queen's funeral, per The New York Times.

Princess Anne helps children through her charity work

According to the royal family's website, Princess Anne was the president of Save the Children from 1970 to 2017, at which point she became its patron. "I am proud of my long association with Save the Children," she said in a statement shared to the organization's website. "... It is an organization that embodies a spirit of compassion, openness and excellence. Its values are an inspiration; its achievements, a source of hope for millions of children."

Save the Children is a rather expansive organization that helps ensure children around the world have access to food, healthcare, education, and a safe environment. While highlighting some of the charity's many accomplishments, Anne continued her 2017 statement with, "From significantly reducing malnutrition in some of the poorest parts of Bangladesh, to sheltering, feeding and vaccinating the young people affected by the devastating winds and rain of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and ensuring children in the UK leave primary school reading competently and able to fulfil their potential, their efforts to ensure that every child survives to live a happy, healthy life are outstanding."

For her part, Anne has traveled to a number of countries as part of her work there, including China, Cambodia, Botswana, Madagascar, and The Philippines, and she even received a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 1990 — meaning that the princess herself has played no small role in the organization's philanthropic endeavors and successes.