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The estranged husband of Britain's Princess Anne said he is contesting a claim that he fathered a 5-year-old girl in New Zealand.

In his first public comment on the paternity suit filed by New Zealand art teacher Heather Tonkin, Capt. Mark Phillips said he was worried about his family."I am sure that it will be understood that I am extremely concerned at the distressing effect on my family caused by the intense press speculation and publicity over the past few days," Phillips said in a statement Friday, released by his attorney.

Princess Anne, the queen's daughter, was returning to London from Japan on Saturday. Phillips and Princess Anne separated 18 months ago.

Tonkin's attorney, Kevin Ryan, said the suit was filed in New Zealand.

Phillips said if the case proceeds, "the issues involved will be dealt with in the context of these proceedings, and any claims made, contested."

Tonkin, 37, said Phillips fathered her daughter, Felicity, on a visit to New Zealand.