32 things you might not know about Princess Anne

The reliable Royal is one of the most beloved figures in the Royal Family. Here we share some fun and interesting facts about the Princess Royal...

32 fun facts about Princess Anne, from the time she was almost kidnapped to her Olympic achievements
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Princess Anne is one of the most popular members of the Royal Family, regularly pulling out huge crowds hoping to capture a sight of her signature and ahead-of-her-time style. 

While she’s famous for her tireless work ethic, people still love her daring fashion choices – even if some of them got her in some trouble in the past. 

From her blunt responses and sharp attitude, which she inherited from her father, Prince Philip, to her track record of being the royal rebel, we list some of our favourite facts about Princess Royal.

The Princess Royal: From Princess Mary to Princess Anne by Helen Cathcart | £11.99 at Amazon

The Princess Royal: From Princess Mary to Princess Anne by Helen Cathcart | £11.99 at Amazon

This insightful biography focuses on the role of Princess Royal throughout history, including Princess Anne who currently holds this prestigious title. It explores Princess Anne's life, drawing on journals, royal letters and associated material, and how the six Princess Royals before her helped to shape this position.

32 surprising facts about Princess Anne

1. Princess Anne was born at Clarence House on August 15, 1950

Princess Anne was born at Clarence House in 1950

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This makes the Princess Royal a Leo. She's one of several Leos in the family, including Meghan Markle, Princess Beatrice and the Queen Mother. While we don't know if the Princess Royal checks her horoscopes each morning, it was one of her own family members who helped invent the daily star sign reading

2. Princess Anne’s birthday is important for another historical reason

Princess Anne's birthday falls on an important historic date

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August 15 marks VJ Day, the day Japan surrendered and the Second World War effectively ended. Of course, the Princess Royal couldn't control the day she was born, but it does seem fitting that it would have such military significance, as Princess Anne has followed in her mother's footsteps in regularly honouring those who serve or served.

3. Princess Anne was the seventh Princess Royal in the British Monarchy

Princess Anne was given the title of Princess Royal in 1987

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Princess Anne was given the Princess Royal title in June 1987. Princess Charlotte will be the eighth and only after Princess Anne’s death. The title is held for life and given only to the monarch’s eldest daughter.

4. Princess Anne is the proud owner of a number of firsts - and it started young

Princess Anne at Benenden boarding school in Kent

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Her long history of trailblazing started from a very young age, after she chose to become the first Princess to be educated at a ‘regular’ school. Princess Anne swapped education at the Palace for attending Benenden School.

5. Princess Anne was in the first generation of The Royal Family to take these popular tests

Princess Anne at school

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Princess Anne was among the first of the royals to take (and pass!) A Level examinations. She took History and Geography.  In 2005, her nephew Prince William graduated with a Masters in Geography too, so it's a passion that is shared within the family. 

6. She was the first royal to compete in the Olympic Games

Princess Anne took part in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal

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Princess Anne became the first member of The British Royal Family to compete in an Olympic Games, competing at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games as part of the British Equestrian team. She rode the late Queen's horse, Goodwill, in the event. 

7. In 1971, she was the first royal presented with a special honour

Princess Anne receiving Sports Personality of the Year in 1971

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In 1971, the Princess Royal became the first royal to be named Sports Personality of the Year. In 2006, her daughter, Zara, was the recipient of the same award. Not only was this a special moment for the royals, it marked the first (and to date, only) time two members of the same family have won the award. 

8. The Olympics weren't her only sporting achievements

Princess Anne riding a horse

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Other sporting achievements accomplished by Princess Anne include winning gold at the European Eventing Championships in 1971 and winning Silver in both team and individual disciplines at the 1975 European Eventing Championship.

10. Princess Anne was the first royal to take part in a TV quiz

Princess Anne in 1987

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In February 1987, she became the first royal to appear as a contestant on a TV quiz show when she competed on the BBC’s A Question of Sport. She proved how down-to-earth she was, letting the fellow contestants call her informal names like "mate" and hugging them.

10. Princess Anne's first wedding included another royal first

Princess Anne's wedding to Captain Mark Phillips

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Princess Anne’s first wedding – to Captain Mark Phillips – was the first time the surname Mountbatten-Windsor appeared  on an official document (signing the marriage register with this name).

11. Princess Anne has her own Coat of Arms and other personal standards

Princess Anne's Canadian Flag

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As well as her own Coat of Arms, the Princess Royal has a personal flag for use in Canada. 

The wreath of maple leaves in the centre is a further indication of Canada. It encloses the cypher of Her Royal Highness the Princess Anne, composed of the letter “A” with a coronet above it that indicates that she is a child of the sovereign. The three-point white label charged with a red heart and two red crosses is taken from her coat of arms.

12. Princess Anne is a Knight

Princess Anne was made a Knight of the Order of the Garter

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In classic Princess Anne style, when she was appointed to the Order of the Garter in 1994, she requested to be installed as a Royal Knight of the Order, and not a Lady. The Order is the oldest and most senior Order of Chivalry in Britain. Each year, it is celebrated with a procession and special service. 

13. The Princess Royal has hit a huge travel milestone

Princess Anne has travelled extensively, visiting every continent

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Princess Anne has visited every continent – and her first overseas visit was to Malta in 1953, when she was only four years old (no wonder she had a desire to study Geography at school).

14. Among her travels, she was the first Royal to visit this historical union

Princess Anne visiting the USSR in 1990

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Princess Anne became the first member of the Royal Family to make an official visit to the then USSR in 1990, as a guest of the Soviet government. The Princess Royal stayed in Moscow for three days before travelling to Siberia, Turkmenia and Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine. 

15. She famously faced down a kidnapper - and uttered a now iconic line

Princess Anne had a classic no-nonsense reply to a kidnap attempt

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In 1974, the then 23-year-old Princess Anne was travelling back to Buckingham Palace after attending a charity event with her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips. Terrifyingly, Ian Ball shot Anne’s chauffeur and security offer and demanded Anne get out of her car, the Princess Royal replied with a classic, “Not bloody likely.” He was planning to kidnap the Princess for a £2 million ransom.

16. She lives on a working farm and hosts a horse event each year

Princess Anne opens Gatcombe Park to visitors each year

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Her Royal Highness’s home, Gatcombe Park, is a working farm and has some 230 Wiltshire horn ewes, 14 white park cows, 6 Highland cows, and 2 Gloucester old spot sows.

Each year, the estate hosts the Festival of British Eventing. 

17. Princess Anne has 11 Ladies-in-Waiting

Princess Anne has 11 Ladies-in-Waiting - and the loyal bunch have stuck with the Princess Royal for decades

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The Princess Royal has 11 Ladies-in-Waiting, one of whom accompanies her on official engagements.  Two of them have worked for HRH for over 50 years, three for over forty years, and five of them for over thirty years.

18. Princess Anne has been married twice

Princess Anne married Timothy Laurence in 1992

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Her first marriage to Captain Mark Phillips was only the second time in 200 years that a royal had married a “commoner” – an archaic description for someone who had no title to inherit from their father. 500 million people worldwide watched her wedding to Captain Phillips on November 13, 1973.

19. Her first marriage produced her two children

Princess Anne with her two children, Peter Phillips and Zara Phillips (now Tindall)

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Peter Phillips (born November 15, 1977) and Zara Phillips - now Tindall - (born May 15, 1981). She also has two step-children from her second marriage to Sir Timothy Laurence, Tom and Amy Laurence.

20. She chose not to give her children titles

Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall

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Unlike her three siblings, the Princess Royal is the only royal who chose not to give her children titles. “I think it was probably easier for them,” she told Vanity Fair in 2020. “And I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles.”

21. Princess Anne divorced and got remarried in the same year

Princess Anne married Timothy Laurence the same year she divorced Mark Phillips

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Princess Anne divorced Mark Phillips in 1992 and went on to marry Timothy Laurence in December of the same year. Now a Vice Admiral, Timothy was a former naval officer and an equerry to the late Queen Elizabeth.

22. She has five grandchildren

Princess Anne with Mia Tindall

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A doting grandmother regularly seen hanging out with her grandchildren at Gatcombe Park, Anne's grandchildren are Savannah and Isla Phillips (Peter's daughters), and Mia, Lena and Lucas Tindall (children of Mike and Zara Tindall). 

23. She became the first member of the British royal family with a criminal record

Princess Anne appearing in court

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Princess Anne became the first royal with a record... at least in the modern age. 

In 2002, Princess Anne and her husband took their bull terrier, Dotty, out for a walk in Windsor Great Park. Dotty got loose and attacked two children, leaving them with bites and scratches. She later admitted to violating the Dangerous Dogs Act.

24. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize

Princess Anne has been patron of Save the Children for decades

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President Kaunda of Zambia nominated the princess for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for her extensive work with Save the Children for over two decades. With her work at the time, she had travelled to over 26 countries and overseen lifechanging projects. 

25. Her favourite meal is… unusual

Princess Anne keeps active thanks to some strange diet tips

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For her 70th birthday, Anne guest edited an edition of Country Life. In it, she revealed her favourite game recipe: devilled pheasant. Fancy trying it? Here's what you need to know. 

Grab your pheasants. Poach. Shred the meat in the poaching juice. Cover the pheasant with whipped cream mixed with mango chutney and Worcestershire sauce. Heat and eat, if you dare.

26. That’s not her only strange food habit

Princess Anne's got some unusual food habits

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Princess Anne's unusual breakfast habits were revealed by a royal chef - and it's stomach churning. Former royal chef Darren McGrady, who worked with the royals for over 15 years, told TODAY, "Princess Anne almost always preferred her bananas almost black - overripe - because they digest easier."

27. She also loves this healthy snack so much she wrote the company a letter

Princess Anne

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The Princess Royal's fondness for kippers - a protein rich snack which could be one of the secrets to her energy - was revealed by a complimentary letter she previously sent to Fortune Kippers, a 140-year-old company based in Whitby, Yorkshire.

28. Princess Anne is bilingual

Princess Anne

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The Princess Royal is said to be fluent in French, having studied the language extensively during her education. As it turns out, she isn't the only one. The late Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles and Prince William were all fluent. 

29. Her unique style is a trademark

Princess Anne wearing her signature sunglasses

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Even before the Kardashians started wearing futuristic looking sunglasses, they’ve been a style staple of the Princess Royal. She almost famously wears clothes that are decades old, embracing sustainable fashion long before it became a trend.

30. Princess Anne is considered the hardest working royal

Princess Anne continues to work hard, as King Charles slims down the monarchy

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She regularly tops the list of the hardest working royals, attending more public engagements on the Royal Circular than any of her family members. For context, in 2022, she attended 214 public engagements, far surpassing King Charles who came in second with 181.

31. Despite being a hard-working royal, she's always had a humble backup plan

Princess Anne would be a farmer, if royal life came to an end

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Showcasing that signature no-nonsense cool, Anne sat down for a TV interview in the past where she simply stated she'd have to “work even harder on the farm" should she stop being a royal. 

She then reveals that “out of necessity” she qualified as a “heavy goods vehicle driver." So many skills! 

32. After the death of her mother, Princess Anne made history

Princess Anne at the Vigil of the Princes

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Princess Anne was the first woman to ever participate in what is known as the Vigil of the Princes following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022. 

The Vigil of the Princes has only taken place twice before - following the death of King George V, and following the death of the Queen Mother in 2002. It is called the Vigil of the Princes because George V's four children - then-King Edward VIII, and Princes Albert, Henry and George - stood guard at their father's coffin on January 28, 1936 at Westminster Hall. For the Queen Mother, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Viscount Linley stood vigil.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.