Very much courted in the 1970s, Princess Anne was the first to impose a commoner within the royal family. A high-level rider, it was in 1972, when she was only 22, that she met Mark Phillips at the Olympic Games in Munich. While the duo shared the same passion for riding, it was on November 14, 1973 that they said ‘yes’ to Westminster Abbey. Upon joining the royal family, Mark Phillips was appointed Commander in the Royal Order of Victoria. Four years after their union, the couple welcomed their first child, Peter, before little Zara joined the family in 1981. Unfortunately, more and more tensions were felt in the couple, who were sleeping apart eleven years after their marriage. union. And for good reason, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips both had lovers!
In 1985, Mark Phillips became the father of a baby girl, Felicity, resulting from his extramarital affair with a New Zealand art teacher named Heather Tonkin. While the news had made the headlines six years later, the latter had denied the words of the young woman before DNA tests did indeed confirm her paternity. A year later, that is to say three years after their separation, the cavalier and Princess Anne finally divorced on April 23, 1992. If the former stepson of Elizabeth II gave alimony to Heather Tonkin, he never again posted with it. On February 1, 1997, he married Sandy Pflueger, an American Olympic dressage rider. By his side, Mark Phillips became a father for the fourth time with the birth of little Stéphanie on October 2, 1997. After fifteen years of love, it was on May 3, 2012 that Princess Anne’s ex-husband divorced for the second time.
A remarkable journey
A former officer in the British Army, Mark Phillips is first and foremost an eventing rider. At 71, the latter has indeed a career that would make more than one dream. A reserve member of the British equestrian team for the 196 Olympics, he was part of the British teams which won a world title in 1970, a European title in 1971 and Olympic gold medals in 1972. In 1998, Phillips designed the cross-country venue for the Red Hills Horse Trials, an Olympic qualifying event located in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He is now a regular columnist for Horse & Hound magazine. He also remains a prominent figure in British equestrian circles and serves as the team leader of the US eventing team.
Princess Anne and Mark Phillips © ALPHA AGENCY