13 Royal Rules Princess Anne Has Been Caught Breaking

While it may look pretty exciting from the outside, life within the British royal family is anything but easy. As every documentary tells us, the royals are constantly on display. Every move they make is scrutinized and analyzed by the tabloids. And whenever any of the royals veer too far away from royal traditions, they are accused of breaking the rules. 


Princess Anne, the late Queen Elizabeth II's only daughter, is famous for bending and breaking some of the royal family's most outdated rules. From ignoring ancient fashion protocol to speaking out on political subjects and fighting for gender equality, Anne has shown us that some rules are meant to be broken. Even though she may not be the most traditional royal, she has certainly helped to bring some sense of modernity to the family.

Here are 14 times the rebellious royal broke royal rules — and what happened after she did.

1. Princess Anne didn't give herself or her children titles

It is a royal tradition that the sons and daughters of British princes and princesses should receive their own titles. However, when Anne had her children, Zara and Peter Phillips, she decided not to give them any titles. "I think it was probably easier for them, and I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles. So I think that was probably the right thing to do," she told Vanity Fair in 2020.


It's likely the queen would have offered titles to Anne for her two children at the time of their birth. For instance, Anne's siblings' children all have titles of their own. In fact, Peter was offered an earldom by the queen upon his marriage, but he allegedly declined the offer. While this may not be a very big rule break, it's definitely an example of Anne breaking with tradition and forging her own path.

2. Princess Anne tried to break the royal rules as a child

It seems that Princess Anne's rule-breaking habits go all the way back to her childhood. Traditionally, royal children led very sheltered, quiet lives. They were expected to stay inside the palace unless they were going to a royal event. Apparently, Anne wasn't too happy about this cloistered existence. 


In Channel 5's "Princess Anne, the Daughter Who Should be Queen," a documentary about the royal, commentators explained that Anne was desperate to live a more normal life, even as a child. After her older brother, Prince Charles, left for boarding school, Anne was stuck at home with her governess. However, as expert Katie Nicholl explained, she eventually convinced her parents to allow her to go to a real school. She explains, "I think growing up as a young girl, Anne did have quite a different childhood to previous royal children. Initially, she was homeschooled, as all royal children were. But she was desperate to go to school and she wanted to get out and discover life beyond the palace walls, she had a brain, she wanted to go out and learn." 


As the first princess to go to "ordinary school," as Nicholl put it, Anne was a real rule breaker who paved the way for generations to come. After all, Prince William and Kate Middleton's children now all attend in-person schools, too.

3. Princess Anne broke the rules as a teenager to help bridge the gender divide in the palace

Every teenager has a rebellious streak, but for Princess Anne, her teen rebellion was a little more dramatic. As the royal revealed to The Australian Women's Weekly her first big battle with royal protocol came when she was still a teenager. Apparently, during a royal visit to Australia, the princess noticed that women were treated very differently to men in relation to the queen. She recalls, "...when I first went to Australia I found a difference, the men went down one end of the room and the women went up the other. I didn't think that was entirely appropriate."


How did Anne fight these outdated, gendered traditions? Well, apparently, she simply crossed the room and "annoyed" the men at their end of the room. We have to say, we love to imagine a young Anne striding across the room to begin to bridge the royal gender gap!

4. As a young woman, Princess Anne broke the rules with her fashion

Princess Anne's desire for a normal life extended to every part of her life — including her wardrobe. As a young woman, the princess used her fashion to make bold statements about her approach to the monarchy — even if it meant breaking a few age-old royal rules.


Her early outfits included tailored trousers, mini skirts, and even pantsuits, all of which were considered inappropriate outfits for a princess. As personal image consultant Georgia Michalopopoulou told Express, "The traditional fashion and style protocols suggest that the female members of the Royal Family shouldn't wear revealing cuts, shouldn't reveal their knees and shouldn't wear black outside a funeral...Princess Anne was not afraid to wear mini skirts and dresses in the 1970s, which went against those traditional royal fashion rules." In fact, according to Michalopoloulou, Anne was far more daring with her fashion choices than Kate Middleton is today.

In another Express interview, wedding dress designer Cynthia Grafton-Holt said that Anne's "overly simple" wedding dress was another example of how she "opted to redefine" royal tradition. If it's true that we are what we wear, Anne was nothing short of a forward-thinking rebel.


5. Princess Anne broke a royal rule in an interview after Prince Philip's death

In 2021, Princess Anne appeared on ITV after her father, Prince Phillip's death, to discuss his life and passing. However, during the interview, some fans noticed that she broke a famous royal rule — she sat with her legs crossed. We all remember that scene in "The Princess Diaries" when Julie Andrew's Clarice tries to teach Anne Hathaway's Mia to sit like a princess — in other words, with one ankle tucked delicately behind the other. "Princesses never cross their legs in public," she says firmly. 


Well, it turns out, this is a real royal rule! As etiquette expert Myka Meier told People in 2018, crossing your legs is one of the "biggest etiquette mistakes a lady can make." It seems that Anne doesn't really care about leg-crossing etiquette. And who can blame her? After all, maybe it's time we let the royals sit however they want to!

6. Princess Anne broke a royal rule when she spoke out about Brexit

One important royal rule is to never speak out about political matters. In fact, the royal family's firm political neutrality goes back for generations. However, in 2021, Princess Anne made the bold move to break from tradition and take an apparent political stance on the UK's departure from the European Union — also known as Brexit. 


On the "Oxford Farming Conference" podcast, the princess spoke up about how Brexit was affecting farmers. "Some are much better prepared than others. I have to say there are two major issues — Brexit, and how people cope with that, if anybody has any idea how it's going to impact them," she said. "For some it will be an opportunity."

While her comment wasn't overtly political, when Anne suggested that Brexit might be positive for some farmers, some royal experts were quick to note that the comment broke protocol.

7. Princess Anne's engagement rings broke royal tradition

Did you know that even royal engagement rings are subject to strict rules? Well, according to Max Stone, a jewelry expert, they are — and Princess Anne, who has been engaged twice, broke with tradition both times. "It's interesting that Princess Anne received sapphire engagement rings rather than traditional diamond rings," Stone said to Crisscut Magazine


But even though Anne's sapphire rings may not have been traditional, they were perfect for her. "Blue sapphires are often linked to people who are respectful, loyal, hardworking and honest, which only makes these rings even more special, and this perhaps could have meant something to Princess Anne," Stone went on.

Funnily enough, other royals went on to break the rules with their engagement rings, too. Princess Diana also received a blue sapphire engagement ring. Then, years later, Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with the very same ring.

8. Princess Anne had an extramarital affair with her bodyguard

It should come as no great surprise that having an affair is something of a faux pas in the royal family — just as it is in most other families, too! As fans of "The Crown" may know, Princess Anne did have a pretty scandalous affair back in the 1980s. While she was still married to Captain Mark Phillips, Anne allegedly had an affair with Peter Cross, her personal bodyguard. Anne has never admitted to the affair, but Cross has spoken up about what happened. According to Daily Mail, the bodyguard said, "It was very affectionate. We got on fantastically, basically because we're both straight-talking people who like to be down to earth." 


The publication spoke to Cross' ex-wife, Gillian Nicholls, about the alleged affair. She claimed, "His affair with her always overshadowed our relationship. It always felt like she was there in the background."

While we may never know exactly what transpired between Anne and Cross, but it sounds like some major royal rules might have been broken when it comes to her relationship with her former bodyguard.

9. Princess Anne broke a royal rule at the Queen's funeral

When it comes to royal funerals, there are quite a few rules and traditions that the family is expected to follow. But, as always, Princess Anne loves to break rules that feel just a little too dated. When Queen Elizabeth II died in 2022, Anne decided to forgo tradition by wearing her military uniform rather than dressing in black, which is traditional for royal women. 


She also broke protocol by marching in the funeral procession alongside her brothers and the other men in the family. Again, royal funeral processions usually exclude women. In fact, she was the first woman to ever march behind the coffin of a British monarch. Prior to the funeral march, Anne stayed with the coffin as it traveled from Balmoral to London. Although she was considered an unusual choice as a woman, the queen selected her personally. According to Daily Mail, the princess released a statement saying, "I was fortunate to share the last 24 hours of my dearest mother's life. It has been an honor and a privilege to accompany her on her final journeys. Witnessing the love and respect shown by so many on these journeys has been both humbling and uplifting."


We love to see Anne breaking the royal traditions that separate women from men, one rule at a time.

10. Princess Anne wore red lipstick, breaking royal protocol

While it probably comes as no great shock to hear that the royals are very particular about clothes, you may not have realized that makeup is also subject to quite a few royal rules, too. In fact, Anne's statement bright red lip is actually a breach of protocol. Apparently, bright lipstick is considered inappropriate by the royals — instead, the Queen prefers subtler colors. It was tradition for the Queen to wear her own unique shade of pink lipstick — and everyone else in the palace tried to opt for a more subtle color. 


However, Anne has broken this unspoken lipstick rule on numerous occasions by donning a bright red lip.Once again, we can only sing the praises of Anne for her bold lipstick choices. After all, even if the royal family traditionally prefers muted lip shades, it's great to see Anne branching out and using makeup to express her vibrant personality. 

11. Princess Anne's controversial divorce broke the rules

Divorce hasn't always been allowed for the royals. In fact, until Henry VIII divorced his wife Catherine in 1533, it was unheard of. Of course, that was a pretty long time ago. Since then, there are been many royal divorces. Nevertheless, within the royal family, divorce isn't exactly encouraged. While divorces are permitted, remarrying after a divorce was not actually permitted by the Church of England until 2002. Then, the church decided that under "exceptional circumstances," a divorced person could remarry.


Princess Anne, however, managed to break this rule. After she and Mark Phillips divorced in 1992, she fell in love with Timothy Laurence. Because of her divorce, the pair ended up marrying in a Presbyterian church in Scotland where the rule didn't apply.

Anne's bold decision to remarry after her divorce may have helped to pave the way for other future divorced royals to tie the knot. Her brother, Prince Charles, remarried after his divorce from Princess Diana, when he tied the knot with Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005, and Prince Harry married the divorced Meghan Markle in 2018.

12. Princess Anne broke with royal tradition at Philip's funeral

Princess Anne's father, Prince Philip, died in 2021 at the age of 99. At his funeral, Anne ignored royal protocol and walked behind his coffin in the funeral procession — an honor typically reserved for men. Then, after the funeral, she sent monogrammed cards to thank those that had paid their condolences. 


It wasn't the first or the last time Anne would break this particular royal rule. She first took part in a royal funeral march in 2002 when she walked behind her grandmother, the Queen Mother's coffin. She later appeared in Queen Elizabeth II's funeral procession in 2022.

At the time of Philip's funeral, Anne wrote in a statement, "I regard it as an honor and a privilege to have been asked to follow in his footsteps and it has been a pleasure to have kept him in touch with their activities. I know how much he meant to them."

13. Princess Anne broke royal rules (and UK rules) by speeding in 2001

It goes without saying that the royals are expected to abide by the law. In fact, breaking the law as a royal is the same as breaking one of the most important royal rules. In 2001, Anne had her own small brush with the law. While driving in Gloucestershire near her home, she was fined $570 for driving 93 mph, far exceeding the speed limit of 70 mph. She also lost five points on her license after she plead guilty to the charges. As Graham Sacker, Chairman of the Bench at Anne's trial noted, "This was an offense of average seriousness by a person of high means."


The princess didn't immediately realize she was in trouble when getting pulled over. Kim Edge, a court clerk told ABC News, "She saw the police car and believed it was waiting to escort her on her journey. She accelerated from behind the slow-moving traffic, to a clear part of the road where the officers could see her."

The palace released a statement at the time, which read, "The princess was keeping to a tight schedule ... she has admitted that she was speeding at the time and she accepts that she is subject to the normal rule of the law and will be paying the fine." Later, in the documentary "The Real Princess Anne," the narrator blamed her speeding incident on her "free spirit."