Iconic weddings: Princess Anne and Mark Phillips

A royal romance in its early stages: the couple pictured together at the Crookham Horse Trials in October 1972
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Zara Phillips' wedding to Mike Tindall
How they met
Princess Anne – the only daughter of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – met her future husband through their shared love of all things equestrian.

Dapper Mark Phillips was a keen horseman at the very top of his game, winning the gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games as a member of the British three-day eventing team.

Anne was equally competitive in equine pursuits – at the age of 21 she had won the individual title at the European Eventing Championship and was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1971.

On May 29, 1973, Anne announced her engagement to Mark – then a lieutenant in the 1st Queen's Dragoon Guards. It was reported that the fiercely private princess had been betrothed for some six weeks before sharing the happy news with the rest of the world.

Mark proposed to his regal bride-to-be with a beautiful sapphire and diamond engagement ring designed by Garrard Jewellers.

The wedding
Less than six months later, on November 14, the happy couple were pronounced husband and wife in Westminster Abbey – the historical London landmark which 26 years earlier had seen the nuptials of the bride's mother and father.

The ceremony was watched by an estimated 500 million television viewers around the world. And on the streets of London, crowds of people lined the streets to share in the big day, which had been declared a national holiday.

Anne arrived at the Abbey in a horse drawn carriage, escorted by her proud father, the Duke of Edinburgh.

She chose as her bridesmaid nine-year-old Lady Armstrong Jones, the daughter of her aunt, Princess Margaret. Her youngest brother, nine-year-old Prince Edward acted as page boy. 

Anne and Mark's union marked only the second time in more than 200 years that a member of the British royal family had married a commoner, following King George VI and Elizabeth Bowes Lyon's marriage in 1923.

In keeping with royal tradition, the Queen is said to have offered Mark an earldom on his wedding day, but he declined, making the couple's children, Peter and Zara, the first grandchildren of the sovereign to have no title.

The dress
The 23-year-old bride looked beautiful in an embroidered Tudor-style silk wedding dress featuring a high collar and medieval sleeves.

It was designed for the glamorous royal by unknown seamstress Maureen Baker, who had worked as chief designer of ready-to-wear label Susan Small for 30 years before securing the commission of the year.

Anne wore her hair in a slightly parted up-do, with beehive volume, that was decorated with her grandmother's diamond tiara and a veil.

Lieutenant Phillips, 25, was in the full scarlet and blue uniform of his regiment.

After the wedding ceremony, husband and wife travelled back to Buckingham Palace in a horse-drawn carriage, waving to the cheering public as they passed by. In keeping with tradition, they later appeared on the balcony of the royal residence to greet to the crowd gathered below.

After their wedding lunch, the couple spent the night at the White House Lodge in Richmond Park before heading to Barbados for an 18-day cruise of the Atlantic and Pacific on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Almost four years to the day after tying the knot, Anne and Mark – by now living at Gatcombe Park – welcomed their first child; Peter Mark Andrew Phillips. The little boy was born on November 15, 1977, at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington and was the first grandchild for the Queen and Prince Philip.

His younger sister Zara Anne Elizabeth Phillips arrived at the same hospital less than four years later, on May 15, 1981.

Sadly, the marriage did not go the distance. In 1989, the couple announced their intention to separate and their union was dissolved on April 23, 1992.

Since then both have gone on to find love again; the hard-working Princess Royal married Royal Navy Commander Timothy Laurence at Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral Castle, on December 12, 1992. They currently reside together at Gatcombe Park.

Mark married American dressage rider Sandy Pflueger on February 1, 1997. They have a daughter, Stephanie, together, who was born on October 2, 1997, and Mark is also father to Felicity, born in August 1985.

Anne and Mark remain on very good terms and are often seen supporting Zara together in her equestrian endeavours.


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