How Princess Anne's first marriage may have been marred by this pre-wedding day interview

Princess Anne's first marriage to Captain Mark Phillips ended after 19 years and produced their two children Zara and Peter

Anne, the Princess Royal and Mark Phillips pose on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London, UK, after their wedding, 14th November 1973. Also pictured are Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother.
(Image credit: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Princess Anne's first marriage was heralded with a fairytale wedding day fit for a real-life Princess. However, this particular fairytale didn't see her living happily ever after with her Prince Charming.


Princess Anne's engagement rings broke royal protocol before she even walked down the aisle. Choosing to marry a 'commoner' was an untraditional choice and, despite being offered an Earldom by Queen Elizabeth II, Mark chose to maintain his Captain title. Despite this title, reports the Express (opens in new tab), it appears that he wasn't top dog at home.

The Real Princess Anne, a Channel 4 documentary from 2002, made claims that there was an, "uneasy balance of power,” within their partnership from the get-go. "On the day they looked like an archetypal fairy princess enthralled with a dashing military officer," said the documentary's narrator. "But a pre-wedding interview suggested that in reality there was an uneasy balance of power.” 

The interview took place after they'd announced their engagement in May 1973, ahead of their November nuptials at Westminster Abbey the same year.

Princess Anne With Her Husband, Mark Phillips, Weeks Before The Arrival Of Their Daughter, Attending The Wedding Of Her Sister-in-law. (exact Day Date Not Certain)

(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images)

During the interview in question, the couple was asked about their upcoming nuptials, what their relationship was really like, and whether they thought they could endure the ravages of public life. When asked, “Do you think the marriage can withstand the enormous pressures of public duty and publicity that you have to endure?”

In response, Mark said, “I think we’ve withstood a great deal already this year.” Afterward, Princess Anne added, "can? It’s got to, hasn’t it?” 

The interviewer pressed further, asking the Princess Royal, “but as far as the home is concerned, you’re boss?” Although she didn't respond with anything more than an uncomfortable smile, Mark laughed and answered a resounding 'yes' which made for a cringe-worthy interaction.

Unfortunately for the former couple, rumors of infidelities on both sides marred their relationship, and in 1985 Mark fathered a child with another woman. After separating in 1989, Princess Anne and her first husband divorced in 1992.

Princess Anne, Princess Royal talks with husband Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence and ex-husband Mark Phillips as they attend the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park on August 4, 2007 in Stroud, England.

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images))

Later that year, she married her second husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy James Hamilton Laurence. Their wedding was on December 12, 1992, in a small ceremony in Crathie Kirk church, Scotland and the couple resides at the stunning Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire.

Despite Princess Anne's first marriage ending, she remains friendly with her ex-husband and is often seen at equestrian events together alongside their children, grandchildren, and current partners.

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.