Princess Anne made history this week by participating in the Vigil of Princes, following the death of her mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
On Friday (September 16), the Princess Royal took part in a second 15-minute vigil at Westminster Hall, as Elizabeth’s children – led by King Charles III – stood solemnly around the coffin of Britain’s longest reigning monarch.
Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter, who died on September 8, was with the Queen in her final hours at Balmoral and also accompanied Scotland’s hearse to Buckingham Palace – calling the journey “an honor and a privilege”.
“I was lucky enough to share the last 24 hours of my dearest mother’s life,” Anne said, staying by the side of the late monarch in death, as she has almost all her life.
The birth of a princess
The second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise, was born on August 15, 1950 at Clarence House.
Both she and Charles, who was born on November 14, 1948, were quite young when Elizabeth ascended the British throne 70 years ago, on February 6, 1952, her whole life changing in the process.
Queen Elizabeth II was often away for royal duties during their early years. In 1953, when Anne was only three, the Queen undertook an extensive tour of the Commonwealth, visiting 13 countries for six months, including Australia, Jamaica and Uganda.
The early years
However, the Queen’s family life was marked by moments of frivolity, in the same way that memories of her unwavering devotion to the throne are etched on it.
Ahead of the platinum anniversary celebrations commemorating Elizabeth’s 70th reign, the Queen opened her home video library – including hundreds of homemade recordings privately kept by the Royal Collection in the vaults of the British Film Institute (BFI) to the TBEN.
Introducing the 75-minute program, the Queen said: “Private photos can often show the fun behind the formality.
“I expect just about every family to have a collection of photos or movies that were once looked at regularly to remember precious moments, but over time are replaced by newer images and more recent memories,” she continued, adding: “ You always hope that future generations will find them interesting, and maybe be surprised that you too were once young.”
Among the rare moments captured on film, Princess Anne can giggle, throw her rattle aside and try to eat pebbles on the shore of a lake.
In pictures, the Queen’s outspoken and quick-witted daughter has been captured on holiday in Balmoral with the Queen when she was two. The royal mother-daughter duo can be seen at the Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershir when Elizabeth was 10. They attended the wedding of the Marquess of Hamilton and Sacha Phillips when Anne was 16.
Anne’s physical resemblance to her mother was widely noted during a state visit to Austria, when Queen Elizabeth and Anne were photographed side by side at the Hotel Imperial in Vienna on May 7, 1969.
Princess Anne also shared the Queen’s love for dogs. As a young child, she was often photographed alongside the monarch’s beloved corgis in the 1950s and 1960s.
From the 70s
As she grew older, Princess Anne began accompanying the Queen on her royal travels. In 1970 she traveled with Elizabeth to New Zealand and Australia for a two-month visit.
The princess and late monarch of Britain shared common leisure interests, including a passion for horses and the outdoors. After Anne won the three-day horse trials at Burghley on September 5, 1971, Queen Elizabeth proudly presented her trophy to her daughter.
The “famous outdoor and no-nonsense royal” became the first member of the British Royal Family to compete in the Olympics. According to a statement on the Royal Family’s website, she rode the Queen’s Horse Goodwill in the three-day equestrian event during the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
When Princess Anne married her first husband, fellow Olympic rider Mark Phillips, in 1973, her radiant mother was photographed next to the couple in the official royal portrait.
Anne was the first of the Queen’s children to start her own family. At the coronation of Anne and Mark’s son Peter, Elizabeth was photographed smiling at her grandson, lying on Anne’s lap.
Queen Elizabeth grants Anne the title of Princess Royal
Princess Anne was given the title Princess Royal by Elizabeth in 1987, shortly before her 37th birthday. The title is usually reserved for the eldest daughter of the monarch, and is the highest honorary title for a female member of the royal family.
It was arguably the low point of her reign, a year of royal scandal and turmoil that is now forever known as the year the Queen named her. annu horribilis.
In 1992, Prince Charles (now King Charles) went to war with his wife, Princess Diana. The Duke and Duchess of York broke up, Princess Anne divorced her husband, Windsor Castle went up in flames and suffered great damage, and public opinion turned against the royal family.
Recognizing that the monarchy should not be above criticism, the Queen effectively advocated a fairer hearing from the press and public with the promise to work for change, while preserving the stability and continuity of the institution.
From 2002 to present
The Princess Royal strongly supported the Queen due to the public perception that Elizabeth was an indifferent mother.
In an interview with the TBEN two decades ago, the outspoken princess confirmed that Her Majesty loved and cared for her children “like any other mother”.
“I just don’t believe there’s any evidence that she didn’t care. It’s just unbelievable,” said Anne, adding: “We as children may not have been too demanding in the sense of understanding the limitations of time and the responsibilities imposed on her as a monarch in the things that she had to do and the journeys she had to make.
“But I don’t believe either of us for a second that she didn’t care about us in exactly the same way as every other mother.”
Princess Anne, often referred to as the “hardest-working royal”, carried her devotion to her position as sincerely as her late mother, juggling her royal obligations with various charitable activities.
As the whole world transitioned from face-to-face meetings to Zoom and FaceTime calls amid Covid-induced lockdowns in 2020, a clip of Princess Anne teaching the Queen to video calling was shared online.
The clip was part of ITV’s documentary Anne: The Princess Royalwhich was released in 2020 in honor of her 70th birthday.
“Ah. Good morning in Windsor,” Princess Anne addressed her mother during the Queen’s first public video call.
Elizabeth replied, “Good morning. I am very happy that I was able to join you.”
Anne then asked Her Majesty: “Can you see everyone? You should have six people on your screen.”
‘Yes, I can see four,’ replied the Queen, before the Princess joked, ‘Actually you don’t need me. You know what I look like!”
Royal fans were quick to praise Princess Anne for her wit after the video was posted on social media. Several others resonated with the recognizable video, sharing their own experiences of having to help elderly family members get to grips with modern technology during the lockdown.
The following year, Anne and Elizabeth were photographed visiting an open-air children’s center in Glasgow.
Following the Queen’s death on September 8, the TBEN released a tribute video to Elizabeth, which featured her children.
During the touching program, the Princess Royal honored the Queen by saying, “She was always the Queen, because that was very important to all of us, but she was always my mother, so that’s how you would remember her.”
She also said her mother’s definition of service to the nation was “a lifetime, literally 24/7, 365 days a year – it was never something you could turn on or off”.
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