Was Princess Anne an Olympian and did she win a gold medal? All you need to know about the Princess Royal's Olympic career

Princess Anne made her Olympic debut back in 1976 in Canada

Princess Anne at the Olympics 1976, aboard Goodwill during the Mixed Three-Day Event Team Cross-Country
(Image credit: Photo by Getty Images)

Princess Anne’s Olympic appearances consistently delight royal fans as she shows her support as President of the British Olympic Association—but did she compete in the Olympics herself and did she win a medal for Team GB?

Princess Anne is often seen as one of the most down-to-earth members of the Royal Family by fans and was even found to be the royal who worked the hardest in 2020. Her commitment to her royal duties has also seen her associated with the ever-exciting Olympic Games for many years. Ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Princess Royal spoke out in her role as President of the British Olympic Association to wish the Team GB athletes good luck as they seek to secure a prestigious Olympic medal. 

'"I and the whole nation will be cheering for you...you have all worked incredibly hard for this moment, during the most challenging of times,” she declared, before going on to reflect on her Olympic past in the heartfelt video

But did Princess Anne compete in the Olympics herself and did she ever win her own Olympic medal? 

Did Princess Anne compete in the Olympics? 

Though it might come as a surprise to some royal fans, Princess Anne did indeed compete in the Olympics. The Princess Royal was part of the Equestrian Team that represented Great Britain at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and she was then just 25 years old. And not only that, her history-making appearance even paid sweet tribute to her mother, the Queen. 

Princess Anne at the 1976 Olympics

(Image credit: Photo by Gilbert UZAN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Taking to the saddle in the three-day equestrian event at the Olympics, Princess Anne rode Her Majesty’s own beloved horse, Goodwill. However, it seems that the Games didn’t go quite as smoothly as the Princess Royal might have hoped.

As reported by Express.co.uk, Anne’s former lady-in-waiting, Jane Holderness-Roddham, who was a fellow event rider, recalled a dangerous turn of events that took place during the Olympics. Speaking on the ITV documentary, Anne: The Princess Royal at 70, she revealed that Princess Anne suffered a bad fall during the competition.

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"What I didn’t know at the time was she had this awful fall, but she got back on and competed,” Jane claimed. “She was that concussed that she couldn’t remember - and still to this day I believe can’t remember - the rest of the course."

Concussion is not uncommon in the sport of horse riding and it is for this reason that equestrians wear helmets in case they find themselves being thrown from their horse.

Whilst it’s certainly shocking that Princess Anne’s Olympic debut saw her suffer such a fall, her professionalism as a competitor shone through in her determination to carry on.

Did Princess Anne win an Olympic medal? 

Sadly for British fans and the Royal Family, Princess Anne did not go on to win an Olympic medal riding the Queen’s horse. And in an even more disappointing twist of fate, she was not alone, as none of the British team won any Olympic medals that year. Instead, they were forced to pull out of the equestrian competition midway after two of their horses were injured. 

The British equestrian team at the Montreal Olympics. From left: Lucinda Prior-Palmer, Princess Anne, Richard Meade, Hugh Thomas and Captain Mark Phillips

(Image credit: Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Despite the likely disappointment at not being able to bring home a medal, the Princess Royal placed a respectable 24th place in the individual eventing. Having made her mark on Olympic history forever, this was also to be the last Olympic result for Princess Anne.

Her love of horses and riding has prevailed to this day and earlier this year, she made a “devastating” admission during a rare podcast appearance as she talked about her mother’s beloved horses. Though after Montreal, Princess Anne’s Olympic career came to an end and she never competed again at the Games.

Did Princess Anne compete outside of the Olympics?

Whilst Princess Anne’s Olympics appearance might have been brief, that wasn’t her only competition and she found great success elsewhere throughout her riding career. The Princess Royal also competed in multiple European three-day event championships and won a gold medal in the 1971 individual discipline at Burghley, as well as silver in both the individual and team disciplines in 1975 at Luhmuhlen. 

During a rare interview with Vanity Fair in 2020, Princess Anne revealed that her horse riding career helped her make a name for herself outside the Royal Family. 

Princess Anne, Princess Royal seen horse riding in the grounds of Windsor Castle on April 22, 2006 in Windsor, England

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

“I thought if I was going to do anything outside of the royal family, horses were likely to be the best way of doing it,” she is understood to have said.

“But then you have to find the right horse at the right time. The original horse I rode was bred as a polo pony and should never have been an event horse, but it worked, so that was very satisfying. But I always knew it was going to be limited time,” she continued.

Princess Anne is believed to still ride for fun, though she retired from professional horse riding in the 1980s.

Was Princess Anne the first royal to compete in the Olympics?

Princess Anne was the first member of the British Royal Family to have competed in the Olympic Games when she made her debut in 1976. And it was an occasion her royal relatives wouldn’t have missed for the world. The Queen, Prince Philip and their other three children, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward all traveled to Montreal with Anne as she set out to win a highly-coveted medal. 

Queen Elizabeth II walks with Prince Edward to watch Princess Anne compete in the Equestrian event at the 1976 Summer Olympics on July 23, 1976 in Montreal, Canada

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Her Majesty was even pictured walking calmly with the then-12-year-old Prince Edward, a pair of binoculars hanging around her neck, as they went to watch Princess Anne compete. The entire Royal Family were likely delighted to see the Princess riding Goodwill on the world stage.

Princess Anne helped bring the Olympics to London

The Princess Royal was appointed a Member of the International Olympic Committee in 1988 and often visits the games in this official capacity, as well as to support Team GB as President of the British Olympic Association. 

And the Princess’ sporting commitments don’t stop there as she was involved in helping to bring the 2012 Olympics to the UK’s capital. 

Princess Anne (L) and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence at the Show Jumping Eventing Equestrian on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games

(Image credit: Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

As Director of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Princess Anne was involved in the successful bid to host.

Meanwhile, she was also the one to formally accept the Olympic flame in Athens on behalf of London and was responsible for bringing it back to Britain for it’s unforgettable 8,000 mile tour.

Zara Tindall followed in Princess Anne’s Olympics footsteps  

Princess Anne’s Olympic appearance and that of her ex-husband Captain Mark Phillips seems to have inspired their daughter Zara Tindall. Whilst Princess Anne’s 1976 Olympic competition ended without medal glory, Mark won a team gold medal in the eventing at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and a team silver medal in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Taking inspiration from both of her parents, Zara went on to compete at the London 2012 Olympics. 

The Great Britain team celebrate on the podium after winning the Silver medal in the Eventing Team Jumping Final Equestrian event on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games

(Image credit: Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

This was something perhaps made all the more significant given her mother’s involvement in helping to secure London’s position as Olympic host city. Entering with the British equestrian team, Zara Tindall won a silver medal, making her the first British royal to win an Olympic medal.

Princess Anne was the one to present her daughter and the rest of the winning team with their medals. She was no doubt incredibly proud to see Zara following in her footsteps. 

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!