Princess Anne's secret obsession: Royal discusses 'deep and long-held interest' and it has a poignant link to her late father

Princess Anne's obsession is one we'll bet you didn't know about, although fans of The Crown may remember it featuring in an episode

Princess Anne, Princess Royal unveils a plaque during a visit to the Riding for the Disabled Association on February 16, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, The Princess Royal travelled to New Zealand at the request of the NZ Army's Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals, of which she is Colonel in Chief, to attend its 100th anniversary celebrations. The Princess Royal last visited New Zealand in 2010.
(Image credit: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Princess Anne's obsession with lighthouses may be a surprise to her fans. However, as the royal opens up in a brand new foreword of an important book on these maritime properties, her passion is clear to see.

Mere months ago, Princess Anne wore comfy walking boots while visiting penguins on the Falkland Islands and it was crystal clear that HRH was very at ease by the sea. 

The hardworking royal also has great respect for the potential dangers of the seven seas, paying tribute to the organizations, communities, and monuments built to keep those at sea safe from harm.

No wonder, as the daughter of a former naval officer with her own naval titles, that Princess Anne's obsession with lighthouses is ingrained. Although she didn't serve in the military, she holds a number of military honors and titles - including the naval title of Admiral.

Princess Anne, Princess Royal walks behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II

(Image credit: Photo by Martin Meissner - Pool/Getty Images)

As patron of Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) since 1993, the Queen's only daughter's devotion is clear. In fact, back in 2008 The Evening Standard reported that Roger Lockwood, chief executive of NLB revealed that she was set on visiting every single lighthouse along the Scottish coast.

"It will be a remarkable feat if the Princess ticks them all off," said Roger at the time. "Other than some of our technicians I doubt if anybody else has been to all of them."

We're unsure how many she's hit yet, but it appears her expertise has stretched far enough that she was deemed suitable to write a foreword for the new edition of Rock Lighthouses of Britain & Ireland.

"Lighthouses are an enduring symbol of man's tenacity, ingenuity, and altruism in the face of the unrelenting power and destructive force of nature," begins the foreword. "Over the centuries they have enabled many lives to be saved, and in so doing have become part of our history, folklore, and engineering achievements."

Princess Anne, Princess Royal looks through a porthole window during her visit to view the D-Day landing craft on April 21, 2022 in Southsea, England. As the patron of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal will inaugurate LCT 7074 and thank the organisations and individuals who have worked together with this prestigious award-winning heritage project. LCT 7074 is the only surviving Landing Craft (Tank) that participated in Operation Neptune, the naval dimension of Operation Overlord, the allied invasion of German-occupied Western Europe in 1944 known as D-Day. A six-year long project to raise, conserve and interpret the 200-foot-long vessel concluded with opening of the ship to the public at the D-Day Story, Southsea.

(Image credit: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

The Princess adds, "from first construction to modern-day automation, our lighthouses have been upgraded and modified to make use of advancing technology, but they still remain beacons of light in the dark."

"Built by men of courage and vision they have become symbols of our determination to co-exist with nature," she adds, "and even though they are no longer under the care of the lighthouse keeper, they still evoke feelings of security and reliability."

The Princess Royal explains that her association with all of the British lighthouse authorities is born of her own, "deep and long-held interest," in the UK's lighthouses. It's not just the UK's shores that hold her interest though.

Back in October 2022, during a visit to the US, Princess Anne took the ferry to Staten Island, one of the boroughs of New York City, so she could pay a visit to the National Lighthouse Museum. 

Pharology, which is the scientific study of lighthouses, is perhaps a little left of field for some but for absolute lighthouse obsessives, this book sounds like a dream come true and it clearly was for Anne. 

"The accounts you will read in this book are a fascinating record of a bygone era," she adds, "dogged determination, and humane achievement, so it is a book that I found thoroughly absorbing."

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly woman&home's junior news editor and a contributing writer at Bustle, her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica and EVOKE.

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.