Autumn Phillips - Biography

Described by one friend as "the nicest and most down-to-earth person", Canadian businesswoman Autumn has been accepted into the fold of the British royal family after capturing the heart of Princess Anne's son Peter Phillips.

Montreal, Canada

Horoscope : Taurus

Blessed with both brains and beauty, the attractive young blonde caught the eye of the Princess Royal's handsome son during the 2003 Montreal Grand Prix, where Peter was working in a marketing capacity for the Williams Formula One team and she was working in the BMW hospitality tent.

Six weeks later, and their romance was beginning to take off. They'd spoken on the phone every day and Autumn had been across to England to visit, having already accepted a job offer which would soon have her based in the country. There was only one problem though - Peter hadn't told her he was a member of the British royal family.

Autumn discovered the truth when she was watching a TV programme with her mother about Prince William's 21st birthday celebrations, and a picture of Peter flashed on the screen. "Mum said 'Oh Autumn! What have you gotten yourself into?'," she remembers.

Once she'd got over the shock, Autumn decided to go ahead with the relocation, taking up a position as PA to Sir Michael Parkinson, and adjusting to life in the UK at Peter's side. Unlike other royals and their partners, the couple were left to build their romance out of the public eye and have made determined efforts to remain out of the limelight. They stress they are very normal people who "work full time, enjoy our weekends and get on with our lives like anybody else".

Sporty Autumn quickly settled into traditional rural life in her adopted land, throwing herself wholeheartedly into the country pursuits so loved by the royals. And she and her hunky beau are a regular sight at equestrian events, often supporting Peter's champion rider sister Zara, who has become close to the Canadian beauty.

Zara is not the only royal relative with whom Autumn has found favour. The Queen also indicated her approval by inviting her grandson's girlfriend to join her and other senior members of the royal family on a nine-day cruise around the Western Isles in the summer of 2006. The pretty Canadian was also present for the Queen's intimate 80th birthday celebration at The Ritz in London.

The pair, who divide their time between London and their cottage on Peter's father's farm adjoining Princess Anne's Gatcombe Estate in Gloucestershire, became engaged in July 2007, and tied the knot during a lavish ceremony at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle in May the following year.

A move to Hong Kong followed, and in 2010 there was yet more good news for the couple. The Palace announced they were "delighted" to be expecting their first child together - the Queen's first great-grandchild.