The princess was 2 when her mother assumed the throne, but the England native said she had plenty of bonding time with her parents. “The holiday times were pretty well kept, actually, from our perspective,” she revealed in the BBC’s September 2022 program, A Tribute To Her Majesty The Queen, noting that Elizabeth and Philip were “nearly always around.”
The family vacations — which also included older brother King Charles III and, later, younger brothers Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — allowed her to spend time doing her favorite activity, riding horses. The princess became a competitive rider, even competing in the 1976 Olympics. In addition to getting her plenty of accolades, her equestrian hobby also introduced her to her first husband.
Anne married British army Captain Mark Phillips in 1973 in a lavish royal wedding with 2,000 guests and millions watching the televised broadcast. The following year, the newlyweds had a fright when an attempt was made to kidnap the princess.
A man forced the car to stop about 200 yards from Buckingham Palace and shot at Anne’s Rolls-Royce with two handguns. Ian Ball planned to hold her for a ransom of millions of dollars.
After confronting her bodyguard and chauffeur, Ball tried to pull Anne out of the car while Phillips kept his arms around her waist, trying to stop her assailant. According to police reports, Anne insisted she was calm during “a very irritating conversation” with her assailant until her dress was ripped, which made her “lose my rag,” she said.
“I kept saying I didn’t want to get out of the car, and I was not going to get out of the car,” she told police at the time.
As she lost her patience, Anne responded to one of Ball’s pleas: “Bloody likely.”
She was able to jump out of the car long enough to distract Ball and lock her and Phillips in the vehicle as the police arrived. Ball was arrested after trying to escape on foot.
Princess Anne has been known for breaking the rules. She is even one of the few royals to get divorced and remarry. She and Phillips finalized their divorce in April 1992, and she remarried Sir Timothy Laurence, a naval officer and former aide to the queen, the following December.
However, her rebellious side has gotten her in trouble with the law. She was banned from driving for a month after repeatedly speeding. She is the only royal to have a criminal conviction after her English bull terrier attacked two children in a park in 2002. The princess pleaded guilty to being in charge of a dog that was out of control in a public area.
Later in life, Anne settled into her role as a grandmother. Her son Peter and ex-wife Autumn Kelly share daughters Savannah and Isla. Her daughter Zara shares daughters Mia and Lena as well as son Lucas with Mike Tindall. None of her children or grandchildren have titles, a break from tradition that Anne hoped would result in her kids having normal lives.
“I think it was probably easier for them, and I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles,” she told Vanity Fair in April 2020. “So I think that was probably the right thing to do.”
Her royal title means she has duties to the crown, which included accompanying her mother’s casket from Scotland to England. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in September 2022 at age 96 with Anne by her side.
“I was fortunate to share the last 24 hours of my dearest Mother’s life. It has been an honour and a privilege to accompany her on her final journeys. Witnessing the love and respect shown by so many on these journeys has been both humbling and uplifting,” the Princess Royal wrote in a statement shared via the royal family’s Instagram account days after her mother’s passing. “We will all share unique memories. I offer my thanks to each and every one who share our sense of loss.”
Anne was spotted greeting her mother’s coffin with a deep curtsy to show respect in Edinburgh. She also made history as the first female member of the British royal family to “stand guard” during the traditional Vigil of the Princes, wearing her Royal Navy uniform for the occasion.
See photos of Princess Anne through the years: