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Who is Princess Anne and did she serve in the military?

Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter is known for a lifetime of charitable work and will likely be prominent in King Charles III’s reign

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Princess Anne and Prince Harry follow the hearse with the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II moving towards St. George’s Chapel at the Windsor Castle in Windsor, England.

Princess Anne and Prince Harry, left, follow the hearse with the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II moving towards St. George’s Chapel at the Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Monday Sept. 19, 2022. The queen, who died aged 96 on Sept. 8, will be buried at Windsor alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.

Jon Super, Associated Press

Princess Anne was at her mother’s bedside when the late Queen Elizabeth II died on Sept. 8. And she has been extremely visible during the ceremonies and processions marking her mother’s passing.

The princess royal — that’s her formal title — is among the best-known royals inside the United Kingdom, largely for her charitable work and long decades representing the crown. The late queen’s only daughter long ago earned the sobriquet “the royal workhorse.”

As USA Today writer Maria Puente noted of the princess royal: “She does her job with a minimum of fuss, showing up month after month, year after year, cutting ribbons, visiting charities, opening hospitals, attending meetings, unveiling plaques. Anne is one of those royals who takes her great-grandmother Queen Mary’s famous dictum seriously.

The queen consort famously told George V, “We’re never tired, and we all love hospitals.”

Her mother adored Anne — and the feeling was clearly mutual. She is, after all, the only daughter of the late queen, who was a princess herself at the time of Anne’s birth in 1950. The sibling group includes Charles, 73; Anne, 72; Andrew, 62; and Edward, 58.

“I was fortunate to share the last 24 hours of my dearest Mother’s life,” Anne said of her mother’s passing in a statement released by Buckingham Palace on Tuesday. “It has been an honour and a privilege to accompany her on her final journeys.”

Princess Anne is a woman of royal firsts:

  • First royal woman to march in the funeral processions.
  • First female royal to take part in the symbolic watch over the casket as her mother lay in state, a ritual called the Vigil of the Princes.
  • She is also the first royal to participate in the Olympics.

A military look

During the funeral procession, Anne wore a military uniform. KARE11.com reported that “members of the royal family who are granted titles and duties on behalf of the crown are permitted to wear their military uniforms during ceremonial events, such as state funerals.” It noted that “for some who served in the military, such as the newly coronated King Charles III, the uniform is a traditional choice.”

The king is “able to bestow and remove privileges to other royals, including the right to wear military uniforms,” as the article reported.

Anne’s military titles are honorary, starting with being granted the title rear admiral in the Royal Navy back in 1993. She was made vice admiral in 2009 and admiral in 2012. In the British Army, she holds the rank of general and is an air chief marshal in the Royal Air Force.

During the funeral, Manchester Evening News reported that “the Princess Royal wore a Royal Navy full ceremonial uniform in the rank of Admiral. She wore full-size medals including the Queen’s Service Order, Coronation Medal, the Silver, Gold, Diamond and Platinum Jubilee medals, Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (Royal Navy), Canadian Forces Decoration, Order of St John Service Medal and New Zealand 1990 Medal.”

A charitable outlook

The princess royal is predicted to be more visible now that her older brother, King Charles III, reigns. But she’s been representing the crown since she was 18 years old, at the opening of an education and training center in Shropshire.

She’s been the president of Save the Children UK for a half-century, and had visited many of their programs in diverse countries, from Botswana to China, Cambodia to Madagascar, according to her official profile at royal.uk. She’s also helped start charities, including The Princess Royal’s Trust for Carers, Transaid and Riders for Health.

The riders part harkens to one of her passions. Anne is a skilled equestrian who competed in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal as part of the British equestrian team. That experience likely helps her as a member of the International Olympic Committee. She was also a member of the London Organizing Committee for their 2012 Games and served as president of the British Olympic Association.

Like the new king, the princess royal has been married twice. As Town and Country reported, in 1992, she married Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, who had served as an assistant — the formal title is equerry — to the royal family. Prior to that, she was married to Capt. Mark Phillips, with whom she had two children, Zara and Peter.