Princess Anne’s wedding heartbreak as life-changing announcement came days before her big day

Three days before Princess Anne's wedding to Sir Timothy Laurence in 1992 a sad family announcement was made known to the world...

Princess Anne’s wedding heartbreak revealed. Seen here as she arrives for the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
(Image credit: GARETH FULLER/AFP via Getty Images)

Princess Anne’s wedding might have been tinged with heartbreak as a life-changing announcement came just before her big day. 

On December 12 2022, the Princess Royal and her second husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence marked their 30th wedding anniversary. Unlike Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding at Westminster Abbey in 2011, Princess Anne and Sir Timothy’s big day was a far more low-key occasion. The ceremony took place at Crathie Kirk in Scotland as there was a bizarre rule that banned Princess Anne and Sir Timothy’s marriage from taking place in England. Amongst the guests were the late Queen and Prince Philip as well as the bride’s brothers.

But despite the happiness of this special occasion, Princess Anne’s wedding was likely also tinged with heartbreak. Just three days earlier an announcement was made that changed everything for the Royal Family and it's understood Princess Diana didn’t attend the big day. 

Commander Tim Laurence and Princess Anne are seen in their car after their wedding

(Image credit: EPA/AFP via Getty Images)

After 11 years of marriage, Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s separation was announced by Prime Minister Sir John Major on December 9, 1992. He delivered the sad news to the assembled MPs in the House of Commons, relaying a statement from Buckingham Palace.

“It is announced from Buckingham Palace that, with regret, the Prince and Princess of Wales have decided to separate,” it began, before going on to add, “This decision has been reached amicably, and they will both continue to participate fully in the upbringing of their children. Their Royal Highnesses will continue to carry out full and separate programmes of public engagements, and will from time to time attend family occasions and national events together.”

Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales at Seville Expo '92

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

The statement continued, “The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, though saddened, understand and sympathise with the difficulties that have led to this decision.”

As the couple were set to be King and Queen one day, this announcement changed the course of history forever. The sad announcement came amid the Queen’s Annus Horribilis or Horrible Year which had already seen a Windsor Castle fire break out and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson announce their own separation. 

Although the statement said that from “time to time” the former couple would still attend family events together, Princess Diana is said to have not been present at Princess Anne’s wedding three days later to Sir Timothy Laurence, perhaps due to this announcement and preferring privacy as she went through its aftermath.

Diana, Princess of Wales with Prince Harry and Prince William, and Princess Anne and Zara Phillips outside St George's Chapel

(Image credit: Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

And though Princess Anne was likely swept away by her own joy that day, it’s possible that the recent announcement and her brother and sister-in-law’s unhappiness could have even in a small way played on her mind at her nuptials. The Princess Royal was also perhaps sympathetic to what they were going through as she was no stranger to marital heartbreak herself.

Princess Anne had finalized her divorce from her first husband Captain Mark Phillips earlier in 1992 after they separated in 1989. Their children Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall were also present at Princess Anne’s wedding in Scotland. Both of them now reside on the Gatcombe Park estate where the Princess Royal and Sir Timothy live. 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!