PRINCESS ANNE married Army officer Mark Phillips in 1973 and the huge ceremony at Westminster Abbey was like a fairy tale – but a very awkward pre-wedding interview showed another side to their relationship.
For one thing, Mark admitted that Anne was “the boss” at home, and the Princess Royal made a very blunt remark about how their marriage has “got to” withstand the pressures on them. In the end, the pair were married for 19 years before finally divorcing in 1992 and marrying other people. According to a 2002 Channel 4 documentary ‘The Real Princess Anne’, there was an “uneasy balance of power” from the beginning.
Anne was the only daughter of the monarch, whereas Mark was a commoner, who declined an opportunity of being given an earldom by the Queen.
The documentary narrator said: “On the day they looked like an archetypal fairy princess enthralled with a dashing military officer, but a pre-wedding interview suggested that in reality there was an uneasy balance of power.”
The engaged couple were asked: “Do you think the marriage can withstand the enormous pressures of public duty and publicity that you have to endure?”
Mark smirked and replied: “I think we’ve withstood a great deal already this year.”
Anne quipped: “Can? It’s got to, hasn’t it?”
Later, the interviewer asked Anne: “But as far as the home is concerned, you’re boss?”
Anne just smiled awkwardly, while Mark laughed and said “yes”.
According to the documentary, “Mark knew his place”.
Anne, known to be sharp, stubborn and opinionated, had apparently chosen a husband who was far more submissive.
In fact, Anne’s brother Prince Charles allegedly coined the nickname “Fog” for Mark because he was “thick and wet”.
Daily Mirror royal reporter James Whitaker told Channel 4 that the nickname “did not help” Mark in terms of his standing in the Royal Family.
At the time, the public knew very little about Princess Anne’s fiancé, because they had kept their relationship a secret until their surprise engagement announcement.
Anne would even go so far as to drive around with Mark in the back of her horse box.
Determined to keep the timing of the engagement announcement in her own hands, she did not even tell her own press office – or even, reportedly, the Queen.
Eventually, it was announced that she was getting engaged, infuriating the press who felt like they had been “lied to”.
Harry Arnold, royal reporter at The Sun, said: “The romance was denied on a daily basis by Buckingham Palace.
“And I remember one particular press officer saying ‘No, Princess Anne’s not getting engaged today, she’s not getting engaged tomorrow and she’s not getting engaged next week either’ – and two days later the engagement was announced.
“And that makes the press pretty cross because they’re simply being lied to, and it makes them, in effect, go for her.”
The couple married on November 14, 1973, and went on to have two children – Peter, born in 1977, and Zara, born in 1981.
They decided not to give their children royal titles, which allowed them to have more freedom than the Queen’s other grandchildren.
Anne and Mark had a shared love of horses, which they passed on to Zara, who followed in their footsteps in becoming a competitive eventing champion.
After their divorce in 1992, Anne married Timothy Laurence just a few months later, while Mark went on to marry Sandy Pflueger in 1997 – although they later divorced in 2012.