On a regular basis I will profile a member of the royal family, past or present, which may not necessarily receive as much notice as the higher profile, glamorous, members. Despite her hard work and tireless efforts, Princess Anne could certainly fit into that description. In the past her caustic attitude, mainly towards the media, has overshadowed her charity work. However, as the years have passed, some now regard her as the monarchy's most valuable asset, after the Queen.
Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise was born on August 15, 1950 at Clarence House. On the day of her birth, her father, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy. At the time, her mother was Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh and heiress presumptive to the throne.
When she was 18 months old, her mother became Queen and the family moved to Buckingham Palace. Here she grew up with her older brother, Prince Charles, now the Prince of Wales. The popular images of her as a child show a little girl with blonde curls, blue eyes and gentle looks that belied the reality she was a tomboy, preferring to climb trees than playing with dolls. As she grew older, although the public expected it, she could not fill the role of fairytale princess, preferring to maintain her individuality and regarding clothes as simply a requirement to her position.
She was educated first at home in the palace, then at the age of thirteen she was sent to a girl's boarding school, Benenden, in Kent. She started official duties when she was 18 years old and in 1969 joined her parent in Austria for her first State visit.
At the age of two she was taught to ride by her mother and horses have played a very important part of her life. Through her own ability she is internationally known as an accomplished sportswoman. She herself has admitted, 'It's the one thing I can do well and can be seen to do well.' As a teenager she started to complete in show jumping and dressage events. She has won a number of trophies for her skill as a horsewoman, including the Individual Woman's European Championship in 1971. In 1973 she competed in the European Championships in Kiev and again in West Germany in 1975, where she won silver medals both as an individual and as a member of the British team. She competed in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal on Great Britain's riding team.
In 1973 she married Captain Mark Philips in Westminster Abbey. They had two children, Peter in 1977 and Zara in 1981. In her desire for them to have as normal a life as possible, neither of her children holds royal titles. Her marriage to Captain Mark Philips ended in 1992 and she married Commander Timothy Laurence the same year.
In June 1987 she received the title of Princess Royal from the Queen. She is the seventh holder of this title. In 1994 The Queen appointed The Princess a Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter and in 2000, in recognition of her work for charities and to mark her 50th birthday, she was appointed to the Order of the Thistle.
In 2004 the Princess Royal carried out some 599 engagements both in the UK and overseas. She has visited over 70 countries. Much of her travel abroad has been in her capacity as President of Save the Children fund, of which she has been president since 1970. She is associated with over 200 organizations in an official capacity and she also holds honorary rank and appointments in a number of regiments of the Armed Services.
Princess Anne has garnered a few 'firsts'; along with being the first daughter of a Sovereign to attend boarding school, she is also the first to compete in the Olympics, and the first member of the royal family since King Charles I (for treason), to face criminal charges. Her charges, however, were much less serious; speeding and a fine for when her dog attacked two children.
© Marilyn Braun 2005
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