Princess Anne: The real reason why she divorced Captain Mark Phillips

Explore the tumultuous divorce of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, filled with infidelity, secrets, and royal drama

princess Anne divorce Captain Mark Phillips
© Tim Graham / GETTY IMAGES
princess Anne divorce Captain Mark Phillips

Princess Anne’s divorce wasn’t nearly as high-profile as Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s, but it was no less overflowing with drama, conflict, and infidelity.

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How Princess Anne met Mark Phillips

According to People, Princess Anne met her first husband at a horse-riding event in Mexico City in 1968. They reportedly bonded over their shared love of horses and equestrianism. Mark Phillips competed in the 1972 Olympics, winning a gold medal in the equestrian team event.

In 1973, the pair announced their engagement and were questioned by the press about whether they believed the relationship would last. The supposed question asked was:

Do you think the marriage can withstand the enormous pressures of public duty and publicity that you have to endure?

To which Princess Anne replied:

Can? It’s got to, hasn’t it?

The fairytale beginning

In November 1973, Princess Anne became the first of Queen Elizabeth’s children to tie the knot. The ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey, as is the tradition, with millions of people watching from the comforts of their homes.

However, cracks began to show as the couple settled into married life and started a family. It is reported that the birth of Peter in 1977 and then Zara in 1981 marked a drastic shift in Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips’ relationship.

Express noted that after the birth of Zara, the pair began spending more time apart, and Mark’s presence at Royal outings was more pronounced. It is even claimed that the pair opted for separate hotel rooms when travelling abroad together.

According to The List, their relationship was once described as a ‘loveless union just drifting along’.

The rumoured affairs of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips

Back when Mark and Princess Anne were still married, rumours floated around that both the Princess Royal and the Captain had extramarital relationships.

Captain Mark Phillips reportedly had affairs with several women, including Pamella Bordes, a Canadian PR executive and an anchorwoman.

Princess Anne also reportedly had affairs with actor Anthony Andrews, her bodyguard Peter Cross, who later described them as being ‘extremely close friends’, and her now-husband Sir Timothy Laurence.

However, the infidelity that was unsurmountable for the couple was that Captain Mark Phillips fathered a child with another woman in 1985 and sneakily paid child support behind Princess Anne’s back.

The List reports that the child’s mother came forward in 1991 because Mark faltered on his payments. She allegedly threatened to ‘make life a bloody misery’ for the Captain before going to press. In 1992, a DNA test proved Captain Mark Phillips was indeed the father.

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Sources used:

- The List: The Real Reason Why Princess Anne Got Divorced

- Express: Princess Anne husband: Why did Princess Anne and first husband split, what happened?

- People: Princess Anne Married Mark Phillips 47 Years Ago Today (in Her Mom the Queen's Wedding Tiara!)

- Brides: All the Details About Princess Anne's Husband and Past Relationships

Peter Phillips: Princess Anne's son spotted with new girlfriend Harriet Sperling Peter Phillips: Princess Anne's son spotted with new girlfriend Harriet Sperling