With a dazzling smile and an unmistakable twinkle in her eye, the Princess Royal celebrates turning 70 with the release of three striking new official portraits.
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Princess Anne, who is spending her birthday sailing along the West Coast of Scotland with her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, posed for John Swannell, the renowned photographer who has documented her milestone birthdays for the past four decades.
They were shot at Gatcombe Park - the private Gloucestershire home where she lives surrounded by her children, grandchildren and beloved horses. There is barely a hint of grey visible in her trademark chignon, which she styled herself for the photoshoot.
Anne wears a dress by Maureen Baker. Credit: John Swannell / Camera Press
And once again displaying her fondness for sustainable fashion, she is seen in a flowing pale-yellow dress by Maureen Baker, the same designer who created her wedding dress in 1973 and who retired in the 1990s. The matching bolero is by a local designer Sue Palmer, who also created the emerald green outfit she wears in another of the new birthday portraits
A third shows her in off-duty country attire, posing in the woods on her estate, the first shoots of spring just visible in the background.
The photographs were taken on a single morning in late February before the world was plunged into lockdown by the coronavirus pandemic and when the Princess had a half-day window in her relentless schedule of royal engagements.
Anne notched up a remarkable 506 official engagements in 2019, making her the hardest-working member of the royal family after her brother the Prince of Wales. But she took a break from duty to head north of the border last week before spending her big day at sea off the west coast of Scotland with her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim.
The Princess will spend her birthday in Scotland. Credit: John Swannell / Camera Press
Appearing in an ITV documentary last month ahead of his wife’s milestone, he revealed: "Our ideal break, if we have a break, is to go up to our boat on the west coast of Scotland and spend a few days sometimes getting wet and cold. I navigate. I know how to get from A to B. But she’s a better sailor of the boat, better at setting the sails."
The Princess’s children Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall both joked about her taking charge on board. "I'm sure she tells the Admiral what to do," laughed Zara. "I'm sure they tell each other. You wouldn't go on a boat with them."
Peter also paid tribute to his mother’s dedication to her work, saying: "She's got so much more energy than anyone that I know that’s 70, well, apart from various members of our family! She certainly doesn't act it. She always says she doesn't have very good role models for slowing down."
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The photos were taken at Gatcombe Park. Credit: John Swannell / Camera Press
Plans for a big family celebration this summer have been hampered by the Covid-19 outbreak, as Zara's husband Mike Tindall revealed earlier this week. But he told the BBC: "I'm sure we'll do something as a family to celebrate her 70 amazing years. She's just an incredible woman in terms of how much work she can get through in the year. We will be doing something. As yet, I don’t know whether she knows, so my lips are sealed."
To mark her big day, the Ministry of Defence announced honorary Army and RAF promotions for the Princess in recognition of her "invaluable contribution and commitment to the military". Anne has been made a General in the British Army and Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Air Force, bringing her rank in each of the services in line with her existing role as Admiral and Chief Commandant of Women in the Royal Navy.
Until now her ranks within the Army and RAF were linked to her existing appointments as Colonel-in-Chief and Colonel of certain Regiments, and Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Brize Norton. A palace spokeswoman said the move had been “approved by the Queen in line with longstanding convention covering military promotions for members of the royal family.”
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