Princess Anne may have been the first child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to walk down the aisle, per Tatler, but her marriage to Captain Mark Phillips didn’t last. After it was revealed that Phillips had an extramarital affair, the two separated and Anne moved on to Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.
Laurence was a commander in the Royal Navy when he met Anne, serving on the Royal Yacht Britannia. The beginning of their romance was unexpectedly made public when private letters proving their relationship were stolen and published by British tabloids in 1989, as People reported at the time. Anne hadn’t formally divorced her first husband yet, so the secret correspondence caused quite a scandal.
“The stolen letters were addressed to the Princess Royal by Commander Timothy Laurence, the Queen’s Equerry,” the royal family confirmed in a statement addressing the incident. “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.”
In 1992, after Phillips and Anne’s divorce had been finalized, she married Laurence in a small wedding of 30 people, per Tatler. The ceremony had to take place in Scotland as the Church of England still frowned on remarrying after divorce.
Laurence is currently chairman of the English Heritage Trust and shares the Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire with his wife, according to Hello! magazine.
Sir Tim has praised the royal family's sense of humor
In a 2020 ITV documentary called Anne: The Princess Royal at 70, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence opened up about what it’s like to be part of the royal family.
“One of the great surprises for me, when I first went to Balmoral and to Sandringham and Windsor was that these places are full of laughter,” he commented, per Tatler, claiming that Anne and Queen Elizabeth are very alike. “The similarities with her (Princess Anne’s) father are much talked about, but what is less spoken about is the similarities with her mother, the Queen… the common theme is humor, fun.”
Laurence also spoke about what similarities he had in common with his wife, declaring that they are both “map and chart” people. “We like to know where we are and see where we are going,” he continued. “We both follow, with great enthusiasm, the Scottish rugby team… as you may have noticed they don’t always win.”
He admitted, however, that there was one big difference between him and Anne when it came to animals. “She grew up with horses, horses have been part of her life, it’s not something I share with her. Sadly I’ve never been bitten by the horse bug.”
Laurence also proved that he could joke about Anne’s first marriage, quipping: “It’s quite amusing that she married first an army officer and then a naval officer. So there must be something about the military that attracts her” (via the Daily Express).
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