Was Timothy Laurence married before Princess Anne and how did they meet?

Sir Timothy Laurence has been married to Princess Anne for decades and here's all you need to know about their royal romance

Composite of a picture of Sir Timothy Laurence attending a Service of Thanksgiving to mark 200 years of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in March 2024 and Princess Anne at a reception with members of the regiment to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day on June 5, 2024
(Image credit: Image 1: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images// Image 2:Photo by Aaron Chown - Pool/Getty Images)

Sir Timothy Laurence has been married to Princess Anne for decades and many fans might be wondering if the retired naval officer had been married before.

He might not be an official working royal himself but Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence is a familiar face at so many royal occasions and events alongside Princess Anne. The Princess Royal’s husband regularly appears on the Buckingham Palace balcony at Trooping the Colour and attends the annual Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph and also often accompanies her on overseas visits. He is a vital member of the Royal Family, though a lot of royal fans might not know too much about him. Sir Timothy, often known as Tim, generally stays out of the spotlight, although he spoke directly to reporters and well-wishers outside Southmead Hospital after visiting his wife on 25th June. 

The Princess Royal is in hospital "as a precautionary measure for observation" after she sustained "minor injuries" and concussion at her Gatcombe Park home on 23rd June. Sir Timothy declared that his wife is doing "fine, slow but sure" and she’s expected to make a full recovery.

Princess Anne and her husband Sir Timothy Lawrence riding in a carriage as they attend the Order Of The Garter Service at Windsor Castle on June 17, 2024

(Image credit: Photo by Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

With the world’s attention focused on the couple at this challenging time, many people might be wondering whether Timothy Laurence was married before he met Princess Anne. Here we reveal all the details of their royal love story, including how the royal couple met and got together.

Was Timothy Laurence married before? 

It’s understood that Sir Timothy Laurence wasn’t married before, unlike Princess Anne who was previously married to Captain Mark Phillips. She and Mark separated in 1989 and, as per the BBC, at the time it was announced in a statement that they parted on "terms agreed between them". It was also stated that they had no plans for divorce, though they later did divorce in 1992.

Princess Anne, the Princess Royal and her husband Mark Phillips attend a garden fete at Great Somerford in 1975

(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

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

Exploring the role of Princess Royal throughout history, this fascinating account delves into the women who've held this title, including Princess Anne. It reflects upon Princess Anne's life, drawing on journals, royal letters and associated material.

This was a year that the late Queen Elizabeth described as her "annus horribilis" or "horrible year", when three of her children’s marriages ended in separation or divorce. At the time the BBC reported that there had been ongoing speculation about Princess Anne and Captain Mark’s relationship, claiming that they had "spent much of their time apart" recently. She later went on to marry Sir Timothy and Mark married fellow equestrian Sandy Pflueger.

How did Princess Anne meet Timothy Laurence? 

The precise date Princess Anne met Timothy Laurence isn’t known, but they had at least met each other by 1986 when he was Queen Elizabeth’s Equerry. Before taking on this prestigious role he had served in the Royal Navy and reportedly did so briefly on the Royal Yacht Britannia. According to People, in 1988 the Princess Royal made Tim one of her advisors to Charities Trust and in 1989 several personal letters were sent anonymously to The Sun.

The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence arrive at the Sovereign's Royal National Lifeboat Institution garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 23, 2024

(Image credit: Photo by Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

They were never published and the police launched an investigation, whilst Buckingham Palace issued a statement in response in which they refused to comment on the contents. 

"The stolen letters were addressed to the Princess Royal by Commander Timothy Laurence, the Queen’s Equerry. We have nothing to say about the contents of personal letters sent to Her Royal Highness by a friend which were stolen and which are the subject of a police investigation," they declared at the time. 

When did Princess Anne marry Timothy Laurence? 

Princess Anne and Sir Timothy Laurence got married on 12th December 1992 in Scotland at Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral Castle. At the time the couple were unable to get married in England as the Church of England didn’t permit the re-marriage of someone who’d already been divorced if their former spouse was still alive. 

The ceremony was a private one and Princess Anne and Tim are said to have only had around 30 guests at their wedding. After the service a reception was held at Craigowan Lodge on the Balmoral Estate and the bride wore a simple white midi dress with a jacket over the top.  

Timothy Laurence and Princess Anne are seen in their car after their wedding at Crathie Church 12 December 1992

(Image credit: EPA/AFP via Getty Images)

She added a few sprigs of white flowers in her hair and carried a bouquet of white heather. This December Princess Anne and Timothy will mark their 32nd wedding anniversary and will likely do so in private. The couple generally keep their relationship out of the royal spotlight, though Tim did open up in the 2020 ITV documentary, Anne: The Princess Royal at 70.

He described his wife as sharing the sense of "humour and fun" of Queen Elizabeth, which he feels is less talked about than her similarities with Prince Philip.

"The similarities with her father are much talked about, but what is less spoken about is the similarities with her mother, the Queen... the common theme is humour, fun," he said.

Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence and Anne, Princess Royal laughing during The Braemar Gathering 2023 at The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park on September 02, 2023

(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Elsewhere in the documentary Sir Timothy also jokingly referred to his wife’s first marriage when he declared, "It's quite amusing that she married first an army officer and then a naval officer. So there must be something about the military that attracts her."

Sir Tim later lamented that he didn’t share Princess Anne’s love of horses but the couple have plenty in common, including a passion for watching the Scottish rugby team play and for maps and charts.

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!