The Truth About Princess Anne's Ex-Husband

Captain Mark Phillips is known by many royal watchers as the first husband of Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth. As shared by Town & Country magazine, Phillips and Anne were married in 1973 after the two, who are both competitive horseback riders, met in the equestrian world. They're mom and dad to their son, Peter, and their daughter, Zara. Their marriage ultimately came to an end in 1992.

Phillips has certainly kept things interesting since his royal split. Per Town & Country, the demise of his marriage was partly due to his own infidelity; while there were rumors that both he and Anne were unfaithful, a DNA test revealed in 1991 that Phillips fathered a child outside of his marriage back in 1985. He wed once again after his first marriage, but that marriage also ended in divorce. Despite those lows, Phillips has also experienced a number of highs, particularly in his professional life.

Mark Phillips comes from a 'long line' of military men

If you've been wondering where the "captain" in Captain Mark Phillips comes from, you don't have to wonder much longer. While it might be cooler if he were a seafaring man, it turns out that, like many a royal before and after, Phillips earned the rank through his time in the military. Town & Country magazine pointed out that Phillips is hardly the first in his family to be in the military; he reportedly comes from a "long line of military personnel."

The publication also noted that Phillips dove into the military as early as he could, enrolling in the Royal Military Academy once he was "of age." After graduating from the school, Phillips joined the Royal Dragoon Guards and was eventually named Second Lieutenant before becoming Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (per United States Eventing Association).

He was a member of the 1972 Olympics equestrian team

Like his ex-wife Princess Anne, Mark Phillips has been a passionate equestrian, both personally and professionally, for most of his life. As shared by the official Olympics website, he qualified for the British Olympic team as a reserve in 1968, and in 1970, he was part of the team that won the World Championships in Chicago, Illinois. Phillips made it to the Olympic team for the 1972 games in Germany where he won a gold medal, and he returned to the Olympics in 1988, earning a silver medal.

Despite that perceived success, Country Life has written that Phillips' two Olympic performances were a bit disappointing, even to the man himself. His medals were each earned through the team competition, and the score Phillips earned each time was a "discard score," meaning it was one of the lowest scores earned by a team member. Phillips told the publication that when it comes to his Olympics experience, hindsight is 20/20, explaining, "You have to make your own luck. I didn't perform to expectations at championships and I see that clearly now."

Phillips also added that, in the end, being in the Olympics is about walking away knowing you've given it everything you could have.

There are a lot of rumors that Mark Phillips cheated on Princess Anne

Captain Mark Phillips and Princess Anne had a marriage that has been described as troubled; there were rumors throughout their marriage that both had engaged in affairs, particularly Phillips. The Chicago Tribune later reported that Phillips' extra-martial partners included a woman from the British news, a PR executive from Canada, and an Indian "call girl" named Pamella Bordes. 

Town & Country backed these claims of marital distress up quite well, explaining that many believed Phillips and Anne began having troubles after the birth of their only daughter, Zara Tindall, in 1981. These rumors leapt from a possibility to a reality in 1985, when Phillips fathered a daughter, Felicity, outside of his marriage; a subsequent DNA test confirmed his paternity in 1991. As the Express reported, Princess Anne began divorce proceedings upon learning about the child in 1985.

Mark Phillips initially tried to deny paternity of his daughter Felicity

As reported by the Express, Mark Phillips put quite a bit of effort into denying that he was daughter Felicity's father for the first few years of her life. Despite all that outward effort, Phillips was also making regular payments of £6,000, or about $8,100 in today's numbers, to Felicity's mother, Heather Tonkin. In fact, Heather only brought her child's paternity to light in 1991 after Phillips stopped sending the payments on time; the New Zealand art teacher later told the Express that she was also motivated because she wanted Phillips to claim his daughter. She said, "My ambition is to get Mark's public acceptance of her and to be able to enter his name on her birth certificate."

While Phillips was finally forced into claiming paternity after that 1991 paternity test (per Express), more recent reports indicate he never really made a point of keeping Felicity, now known as Felicity Wade, close in his life. In 2017, the Daily Mail revealed that Felicity and her husband, Tristan, had welcomed a child of their own, but the publication also noted that it was unlikely the baby would be welcomed by anyone in the Phillips family.

In 1994, Mark Phillips started working for the U.S. equestrian team

Since much has been made about Mark Phillips' time as an equestrian in the United Kingdom, it might come as a surprise to learn that Phillips actually took over the role of Chef d'equipe for the American equestrian team in 1994. Country Life magazine revealed that Phillips' contract with the United States expired after the 2012 Olympic Games, which took place in London, England.

In addition to being held in a city so near to his life and heart, Phillips had an additional factor to wrestle with in 2012: his oldest daughter, Zara Tindall, competed in the games for Team Britain. However, Phillips told Country Life that he didn't think there was a conflict of interest; after all, he was there as a coach before being there as a father. Phillips said, "I am 110% committed to helping the USA win a medal. But if that's not good enough, then I hope the British and Zara will be on top."

Mark Phillips married Sandy Pflueger in 1997 and they have one daughter

Mark Phillips married his second wife, Sandy Pflueger, in 1997. The two share one daughter, Stephanie Phillips. Gloucester Live noted that Pflueger is also a talented equestrian; she was part of the 1984 Olympic team for the United States, and Hello! magazine shared that Pflueger also coached with Mark Phillips.

Phillips and Pflueger got married at her father's home in Hawaii. The wedding was fairly large, with 100 guests attending (mostly from the United States, Australia, and Britain). At the time of their wedding, Pflueger had already been living in Britain for over two decades.

From what it sounds like, Stephanie Phillips is just as fond of horses as the rest of the family. Bristol Live reported that Stephanie was raised near her older brother and sister, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, on the Gatcombe Park compound. The home was originally a wedding gift to Princess Anne and Mark Phillips. 

Mark Phillips has made sure daughter Stephanie is close with his children Zara and Peter

While it seems Captain Mark Phillips has gone of out of his way to avoid bringing his daughter Felicity Wade into his life (per Express), quite the opposite can be said about his other daughter Stephanie Phillips. Good Housekeeping noted that Stephanie served as a flower girl in both Peter Phillips' 2008 wedding and Zara Tindall's 2011 wedding, and the closeness between the three was likely nurtured by the fact that Stephanie grew up only "a stone's throw" from her older siblings (per Tatler).

Stephanie is also reportedly close to Peter and Tindall's respective children. Peter and his ex-wife Autumn Phillips are mom and dad to Savannah and Isla, and Zara shares Mia and Lena with husband Mike Tindall. All the children also live on the same estate where Stephanie grew up (per Gloucester Live).

He reportedly divorced his second wife in 2012 to be with someone else

The ever-tangled love life of Mark Phillips was back in the news again in 2012 when it was reported that he intended to divorce his second wife, Sandy Pflueger, to be in a relationship with Lauren Hough, a woman nearly 30 years his junior who is also heavily involved in the equestrian world (per Hello! magazine). The relationship between Hough and Phillips sparked additional controversy when it was revealed that Hough began working for Phillips after the two were involved; the fact that Hough came on board as an assistant coach for the U.S. equestrian team drew some ire from fellow professional equestrians.

Hough also has Olympian heritage. She competed for the United States at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and helped Phillips coach the team at the 2012 Games. Her father, Charles, was in the 1952 Olympics, and her mother, Linda, owned her own jumping stable.

These days, Mark Phillips is an equestrian consultant

Mark Phillips stopped working for the United States equestrian team following the 2012 Olympic Games after reportedly being faced with encouragement to retire from the role following the news that he had reportedly cheated on his second wife with Lauren Hough (per the Daily Mail).

Since then, Phillips has gone on to continue to work in the equestrian world, albeit in different roles. Horsetalk NZ shared that Phillips has taken up consulting in a number of ways that pertain to owning and riding horses and designing competitive courses. In August 2021, he explained to Horse & Hound magazine that designing courses isn't quite as easy as one might think. Phillips noted that there are numerous elements to consider, such as giving horses ample time to "catch their breath."

Phillips has an additional relationship with Horse & Hound, as he is also a contributor to the site.