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Princess Anne's most challenging times - sporting injuries, kidnap attempt and more

The Princess Royal is the royal family's stalwart, but there has been some difficult times

Princess Anne's challenging times
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
June 26, 2024
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The Princess Royal is often referred to as a national treasure, with a deep rooted sense of duty and an unflappable demeanor.

But the King's sister, 73, has experienced challenging and difficult periods throughout her life, both professionally and personally.

Princess Anne is currently receiving treatment after suffering minor injuries and concussion after a horse-related incident on her Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire. 

Her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, has been among her family members to visit her at Southmead Hospital in Bristol...

WATCH: Sir Tim visits Princess Anne in hospital

It's not the first time that the royal has been involved in an accident, having been an accomplished horsewoman and Olympian.

HELLO! takes a look back at the most challenging moments in Princess Anne's life.


Princess Anne with her arm in a sling© Getty

Broken finger, 1964

At the age of 14, Princess Anne cracked a bone in the little finger of her right hand after she had caught it in the rein of her pony while riding near her school, Benenden in Kent. She was treated at a London hospital and was pictured at the time leaving with her arm in a sling.


Princess Anne's Rolls-Royce and a white Ford Escort car used by would-be kidnapper Ian Ball to force the royal car to stop© Getty

Kidnapping attempt, 1974

The princess survived an attempted kidnapping when a gunman tried to abduct her and then-husband Captain Mark Phillips as they were driven along The Mall to Buckingham Palace.

She kept her cool, and when the gunman, Ian Ball, told her to "Come with me for a day or two" because he wanted £2 million, she replied it was not "bloody likely, and I haven't got £2 million".


Princess Anne riding horse before accident in 1976© Getty

Fractured vertebrae, 1976

Anne was knocked unconscious when a horse fell on her at the Portman Horse Trials in Dorset, suffering bruises, concussion and a hairline fracture in her vertebrae. The then 25-year-old royal was treated in hospital for four days and thankfully the injury wasn't serious enough to stop her from competing in the Montreal Olympics that summer.


Anne And Mark Phillips© Getty

Divorce, 1992

The Princess Royal's marriage to Captain Mark Phillips ended in divorce after reported affairs on both sides, with the pair having separated in 1989. 

It was also confirmed in 1991 that Captain Phillips had fathered a daughter, Felicity Tonkin, born in August 1985 in New Zealand to art teacher Heather Tonkin, while he was still married to Anne.


Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence sitting at a dinner table © Getty

Stolen love letters, 1989

While Princess Anne has largely avoided any scandals, there was controversy when personal letters written to the late Queen's then-equerry, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, were stolen and anonymously delivered to The Sun newspaper. While the contents of the letter was never published, they fuelled much speculation.

Buckingham Palace addressed the incident at the time, saying in a statement: "The stolen letters were addressed to the Princess Royal by Commander Timothy Laurence, the Queen’s Equerry. We have nothing to say about the contents of personal letters sent to Her Royal Highness by a friend which were stolen and which are the subject of a police investigation."

Anne went to on to marry Sir Tim at Crathie Kirk in Scotland in December 1992.


Princess Anne at magistrates court in 2002© Getty

Criminal conviction, 2002

The Princess Royal became the first member of the royal family to have been convicted of a criminal offence, having pleaded guilty to one charge of having a dog dangerously out of control under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and was fined £500.


Princess Anne at Prince Philip's funeral© Getty

The Duke of Edinburgh's death, 2021

The Princess Royal had a close bond with her father, sharing his love of equestrian sports and dry sense of humour. Prince Philip died at the age of 99 at Windsor Castle on 9 April 2021.

Anne said of her father in a statement at the time: "You know it’s going to happen but you are never really ready. My father has been my teacher, my supporter and my critic, but mostly it is his example of a life well lived and service freely given that I most wanted to emulate.

"His ability to treat every person as an individual in their own right with their own skills comes through all the organisations with which he was involved. I regard it as an honour and a privilege to have been asked to follow in his footsteps and it has been a pleasure to have kept him in touch with their activities. I know how much he meant to them, in the UK, across the Commonwealth and in the wider world.

"I would like to emphasise how much the family appreciate the messages and memories of so many people whose lives he also touched. We will miss him but he leaves a legacy which can inspire us all."


Princess Anne looks on as Queen Elizabeth II's coffin is moved to London© Getty

Queen Elizabeth II's death, 2022

There was further heartache when Queen Elizabeth II, passed away at the 96 at Balmoral on 8 September 2022. The Princess Royal was by her mother's side in her final hours and accompanied her coffin back to London from Scotland.

In a moving statement, Anne paid tribute to the late Queen, writing in a statement: "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. We will all share unique memories. I offer my thanks to each and every one who share our sense of loss.

"We may have been reminded how much of her presence and contribution to our national identity we took for granted. I am also so grateful for the support and understanding offered to my dear brother Charles as he accepts the added responsibilities of the monarch. To my mother, The Queen, thank you."

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