Catching up on previous seasons of The Crown before diving into season five? If you're curious about the real life Captain Mark Phillips, read on for our story from 2020:
The Crown's fourth introduces a number of new faces. And while the main love story is, of course, the triangle between Prince Charles, Diana Spencer, and Camilla Parker-Bowles, Princess Anne also gets a love interest: the Princess Royal's first husband, Captain Mark Phillips.
Anne and Mark were married in November 1973, after meeting on the equestrian circuit. A "commoner," Phillips comes from a British military family and served in the Army (hence the Captain).
Keep reading for everything you need to know.
Mark Phillips is an Army Captain and Olympic equestrian.
Born in 1948 in Gloucestershire, Phillips comes from a long line of military personnel. Once he was of age, Phillips attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He then went on to serve in the Army as a Second Lieutenant. By the time he married Princess Anne in 1973, Phillips was an acting Captain. He was promoted to Captain in July 1975, and eventually retired from the Army in 1978.
Concurrently with his military career, Phillips became a champion equestrian. In 1972, he was part of the British event team that won Olympic gold medals. Though, individually, Phillips came in 35th place. At the 1988 Olympics, Phillips won a silver medal with the British team, though never actually competed, as his horse pulled a muscle.
Phillips married Princess Anne in 1973.
The couple met through the equestrian circuit—Anne is also a champion horseback rider. They announced their engagement in May 1973, and were married that November at Westminster Abbey. The lavish wedding was watched by an estimated global audience of 500 million people. The Princess wore a high-necked gown by Maureen Baker of London-based label Susan Small. She also chose to wear Queen Mary's Fringe tiara, which was also worn by Queen Elizabeth on her own wedding day. It is thought that Phillips was offered a royal title by the Queen, but he denied the honor, preferring to keep his "Captain" title.
Four years after their wedding, the couple had their son, Peter Phillips. Then, in 1981, Princess Anne gave birth to the couple's only daughter and youngest child, Zara. Now, Zara and Peter both have two children each.
The couple had a rocky marriage and eventually divorced.
After Zara's birth, the Princess Anne and Phillips were rumored to have marital troubles. The pair were rarely seen together and both were thought to be involved in extramarital affairs. These problems came to a head, and entered the public eye, when, in 1985, Phillips fathered a love child with New Zealand art teacher, Heather Tonkin. (The paternity tests were confirmed in 1991.)
The couple separated in 1989 and, eventually, divorced in 1992 after years of marital strain. That year, Princess Anne remarried to Commander Timothy Laurence, with whom she had been involved for years.
Phillips moved on as well, marrying Sandy Pflueger, a fellow equestrian, in 1997. The couple had a daughter, Stephanie, that year. However, after fifteen years together, they divorced due to Phillips's infidelity—Phillips moved in with a woman 28 years his junior. He is still dating Lauren Hough, who is a showjumper.
Phillips is still very involved in the equestrian world.
Now, Phillips is a cross-country course designer for equestrian events. He also chairs horseback riding competitions, including the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe. Additionally, Phillips is a renowned equestrian coach, who worked with the U.S. event team for 20 years, and retired after the 2012 Olympics. Phillips's daughter, Zara Tindall, since became a champion rider. As a member of the Great Britain Eventing Team, she won a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Phillips is also a regular columnist for Horse & Hound, which, surprisingly, was not a fictional publication for the movie, Notting Hill. He is the magazine's longest standing columnist, having written there for over 30 years.
Phillips and Princess Anne still come together for their children.
Though both Anne and Mark have remarried (and, in the latter case, remarried and re-divorced), the couple still maintains a sense of civility. The pair, on occasion, need to reunite for their children. Anne and Mark have been spotted together at many of their daughter's equestrian events, looking perfectly composed. Sometimes, their son Peter Phillips attends, as well, making the whole encounter a true family affair.
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