The Truth About Princess Anne's Son, Peter Phillips

On November 15, 1977, The New York Times announced the birth of the first child of Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, now The Princess Royal. The birth of Master Peter Mark Phillips was a momentous occasion not only for the proud parents, Princess Anne and her then-husband, Captain Mark Phillips but also for the people of the United Kingdom, not to mention royal-family watchers everywhere because his particular birth represented several significant firsts for the royal family. 

In addition to being Princess Anne's first child and the first of many royal babies born at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital (via Town & Country). Peter Phillips is also the first-born grandchild of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Because Phillips was born when the British royal family still adhered to male primogeniture in determining the order of succession to the crown, at the time of his birth, Phillips stood to retain his relatively high place in said order (5th in line to the throne) until one of the male heirs to the crown produced a male heir, per Nevertheless, Phillips was also the first grandchild of a monarch — possibly in the history of the British monarchy, to be born without a peerage (peerage is a legal construct that divides the world into those with noble titles and those without), according to The New York Times. Let's unpack the truth about Princess Anne's son, Peter Phillips, shall we?

How Peter Phillips went from 5th in line to the throne to ... 18th

At birth, Peter Phillips was fifth in line to the British throne, right after his mother, Princess Anne, who came after her three male siblings. These were HRH Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, and HRH Prince Edward, in that order — despite that Anne was the second oldest. At the time, the order of succession to the British throne was determined by male primogeniture, whereby any generation's males were entitled to the throne before its females, via Woman & Home. Although the Succession to the Crown Act abolished male primogeniture in 2011, the Act only applied prospectively to future-born babies, including Peter Phillips' first cousin-once-removed, Princess Charlotte, who retained her place even after her younger brother, Prince Louis, was born.

Not that any of this would have made a difference in terms of Phillip's place in the order, which was usurped the moment then-HRH Princess Diana gave birth to HRH Prince William in 1982. And besides, Peter's parents never seemed to want all of that for him, as we'll also get into below. The birth of Prince Harry in 1984 bumped Peter Phillips further, as did, one-by-one, all of the children and grandchildren of Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward that have been born thus far. Today, Peter Phillips stands at 18th in the order of succession, but his place stands to be further usurped by any future-born great-grandchildren of the queen via Princess Anne's siblings' grandchildren.

Despite being a direct descendant of the queen, Peter Phillips was born a commoner

You don't have to be a member of the British royal family to give birth in the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital, according to Town & Country. But the wing is now considered a royal-friendly birthing center, and it has been since Princess Anne gave birth to her first child, Peter Phillips, there in November 1977. Although Princess Anne was the first royal family member to avail herself of this high-end maternity ward's top-notch medical care, she was also the first to decline a peerage for her newborn baby upon being offered one by the reigning monarch, according to The New York Times and

And that's what it would have taken for Peter Phillips to have been styled as HRH Prince. The reason is that the birthright to the title of HRH Prince/Princess lies only with the children of the crown and the children of the male heirs to the crown, via Tatler. This has been the case since 1917, thanks to Parliamentary legislation sponsored by King George V — the grandson of Queen Victoria and the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II (it's also why Prince Harry's children were born without royal title). One born without a royal crown in the U.K. is considered a commoner. That makes Peter Phillips "the first [legitimate] royal baby to be born a commoner for more than 500 years," according to the BBC.

Here's what Princess Anne has said over the years about Peter Phillips not having a title

When Peter Phillips was born, The New York Times reported that many Brits were surprised the queen's first grandchild was neither born with nor granted by the queen a royal title. "It was speculated that the young parents, both of whom are known as freewheeling and independent, did not want peerages for themselves or their children," the paper wrote back then. Princess Anne later acknowledged this was essentially accurate, according to The Washington Post.

Nevertheless, those who weren't paying attention to the royal titles at the time of Princess Anne and Captain Phillips' wedding were probably not surprised. On her wedding day, the Princess Royal "signed the marriage register at Westminster Abbey using the surname of Mountbatten-Windsor," according to the official website of the Royal Family. It was an unusual state of affairs for the child of a monarch to refer to themselves by their surname, and it was, in fact, the first time the Mountbatten-Windsor name appeared on any official document in history. 

Perhaps more tellingly, the queen offered the groom earldom (via Had Phillips accepted, his children with Princess Anne would have been born with hereditary titles, per Britannica. The offer was declined, however. So too was the queen's offer to grant a courtesy title to Peter (the same is true about Peter's young sister Zara Phillips Tindall, born in 1981).

Peter Phillips is said to be the Queen's favorite

The question of which of the queen's grandchildren is her favorite is one royal watchers seem to ponder frequently. One top contender has been Lady Louise Windsor, the youngest child and only daughter of HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and his wife, HRH Countess Sophie, per the South China Morning Post. Another is HRH Princess Eugenie, the second daughter of Prince Andrew.

But the one that comes up most often and consistently is Peter Phillips, son of the queen's only daughter, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal. His younger and only sibling, Zara Phillips Tindall, appears to run a close second. According to New Idea Magazine, which notes that "in 2019, royal editor Ingrid Seward spoke of Her Majesty's relationship with Zara and her husband Mike Tindall, 42, claiming that the 94-year-old has a 'tighter bond with them than she does with Kate and William.'"

It seems unlikely that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, known for having adopted the motto, "never complain, never explain," via Marie Claire, will come forward to shed light on her true preferences. Nevertheless, published a 2016 essay by Peter Phillips about the celebratory events scheduled for the queen's 90th birthday, in which Phillips states, 'I've always been very close to my grandmother, and we speak often." The published article's title refers to Phillips as "the Queen's favourite grandson."

How Peter Phillips met the mother of his children

At first, McGill-educated Canadian businesswoman Autumn Kelly didn't realize the man she met at the 2003 Grand Prix and began dating soon after was a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, let alone the first-born grandchild of Her Majesty, according to Town & Country. It would take six weeks before Autumn finally made the connection and realized that — aha, so this Peter Phillips is "that" Peter Phillips, you know, the one standing only 11 spots away from the throne (that was his place in the order of succession at the time, via Hello! Magazine). But love is blind, they say, and this was a case of "love at first sight," Hello reports.

"Oh Autumn! What have you gotten yourself into?'" Autumn's mum asked when Autumn broke the news. But by the time Peter proposed in 2007, the two had already spent several years together, so Autumn may have had some sense of what being in a relationship with a minor royal family member was all about. Nevertheless, something Autumn Kelly didn't see coming was the proposal. Not that she didn't immediately say yes, she told Telegraph. On July 30, 2007, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips announced the engagement, per the official website of The Royal Family. On May 17, 2008, the two were wed at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, which is where Phillips' cousins HRH Princess Beatrice and the Duke of Sussex would each hold their nuptials.

Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly have two daughters

Peter and Autumn Phillips had their first child in December 2010, according to the announcement that remains live on the official website of The Royal Family. "Mrs. Peter Phillips was yesterday safely delivered of a baby girl at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. The weight of the baby was 8lbs 8oz. Mr. Peter Phillips was present at the birth. The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Princess Royal, Captain Mark Phillips, and Autumn's family have been informed and are delighted with the news," the announcement read. The announcement went on to say that the as-yet-unnamed baby stood "twelfth in line to the Throne." Savannah Phillips' name reveal occurred at Sandringham church service when the clergyman offered a prayer for "Peter and Autumn Phillips and their daughter Savannah," via Town & Country.

Fifteen months later, on March 29, 2012, Buckingham Palace announced the birth of the second Phillips child, another girl, one who was named Isla Elizabeth. According to another story that appeared in Town & Country, although it certainly seems safe to speculate that Isla's middle name was given to her in honor of her great-grandmother, the queen, neither Peter nor Autumn has ever officially confirmed that is the case. Notwithstanding their direct blood relationship to the queen, however, Peter Phillips' daughters, like Peter Phillips himself, have no peerage and are therefore members of the commoner class. 

Peter Phillips became the first royal family member of his generation to divorce

On February 11, 2020, Peter and Autumn Phillips announced they were separating after 12 years of marriage. Or, more accurately, they announced that they had already separated during the prior year, according to Town & Country. "After informing HM The Queen and members of both families last year, Peter and Autumn jointly agreed to separate. They had reached the conclusion that this was the best course of action for their two children and ongoing friendship." The announcement went on to say that although the decision is sad, their parting is nevertheless amicable. 

Amicable, yes, but apparently, that wasn't enough to inspire a reconciliation. On July 14, 2021, People announced that the divorce had been finalized but remained friendly, and the now-former spouses were putting their children "first and foremost." But good parenting doesn't preclude a new relationship, of course. By March 2022, Autumn had a new boyfriend: 52-year-old Irish real estate mogul Donal Mulryan, in March 2022, whom she debuted as her beaux at a horse race in Cirencester, per Tatler. Two months later, Peter Phillips introduced the world to his new girlfriend, 40-year-old Lindsay Wallace, who had once been a schoolmate of Phillips' sister, Zara, at Gordonstoun, per Vanity Fair. Not that it's a competition, but if it were, we'd have to say Peter and Lindsay won this round because the occasion was none other than The Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

Peter Phillips isn't a working royal, but don't say he doesn't work

Peter Phillips is a member of the royal family who works. And yet he is not a working royal, according to the Evening Standard. The phrase "working royal" is a term of art that is understood to refer to a member of the royal family who makes official appearances at royal engagements, particularly those listed on the official event calendar of the royal family and who is delegated official governmental duties. In each case, on behalf of the monarch, according to

After graduating from Exeter University (per Tatler), Phillips immediately pursued a career in motorsports, according to Sports & Entertainment Ltd, spending more than a decade with the Formula One racing team, Stewart Grand Prix, which later became Jaguar Racing. After Jaguar Racing, Phillips became the senior account manager of the Formula One team, Williams, where he was responsible for sponsor relationships for three years before moving over to Royal Bank of Scotland, where he spent seven years helping to "design and implement their first ever global Formula One sponsorship program." Since June 2012, Phillips has been heading up with his long-time friend and mentor, James Erskine, SEL UK, a sports management company focused on "delivering world-class events to London." Perhaps, not surprisingly, one of Phillips's clients at SEL is his sister, Zara Tindall, a highly accomplished equestrian, according to People.

Peter Phillips wanted to bring horse racing to the streets

Although he is clearly passionate about motorsports, Peter Phillips also shares a love of horseracing with his mother, HRH Princess Anne, and his sister, Zara Phillips Tindall. However, whereas The Princess Royal and her daughter are accomplished equestrians themselves (Olympic-level, no less, via People), Peter Phillips apparently preferred playing rugby in his youth, per The Herald. In recent years, however, Peter Phillips introduced parts of Europe, including France and England, to street racing (via Thoroughbred Daily News). And by street racing, we mean horseracing on city streets. 

Starting in 2016, Phillips, via SEL UK, his sports management company, began putting considerable effort into founding and nurturing City Racing, which "brings horse racing to the [streets of] the world's greatest cities," per LinkedIn. Philipps was joined in the venture by The Jockey Club, among others. "From 2022, landmark roads in cities around the globe will be transformed to bring horse racing to the masses through these innovative and first-of-their-kind events," the venture's LinkedIn profile promises. Unfortunately, that hasn't exactly come to fruition. Although France approved of City Racing's concept, the city of London gave it one shot, per The Guardian, only to ultimately pass on account of safety concerns, according to The Sun, whose May 2022 story on City Racing states that there've been no "official updates" from City Racing since March 2021. Now, whoever said that everything is about who you know?

About his having made a commercial recently for some Chinese company

"This what I drink," says Peter Phillips, hoisting a glass of milk filled, presumably, with the milk of England's Jersey cows, in a television commercial for a Chinese-state-owned dairy farm (via The Evening Standard). It's what Phillips was brought up drinking, the viewer learns during a brief but utterly resplendent tour of the exterior and interior of a huge English estate that purportedly overlooks a cheerful-looking herd of Jersey cows, presumably, the from the "Windsor herd."

In a vacuum, the ad would appear to be a win, with its admirable production values and breathtaking setting, not to mention a rather handsome non-working member of the royal family who, now that we're focusing on it, we think bears a strong family resemblance to his first cousin and future king of the U.K., HR Prince William Duke of Cambridge. As it turns out, however, the advert wasn't uniformly well-received. First, the glorious estate? Not actually Peter Phillips' residence. In fact, Longleat House did not even give its permission to be featured in the ad, according to the Daily Mail. Second, it's been speculated that the queen probably isn't thrilled that her eldest grandson is trading on his royal ties to make bank, per Cosmopolitan. That being said, Cosmo also points out, quite astutely at that, that Peter Phillips isn't a working member of the royal family, so he can "do whatever TF he wants."