Strange Facts About Princess Anne

Those of you who consider yourselves big fans of the royal family are very familiar with Princess Anne. But for the stragglers among us who aren't as well versed in the British monarchy, Anne may seem like an elusive figure who has wafted in and out of public view throughout her time as a royal. Of course, Anne is the second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth, and her status as a princess has stayed with her throughout her entire life. But don't be fooled — Anne isn't all tiaras and ball gowns, but, rather, a bona fide force in her own right. From solidifying her status as a fashion icon in the 1970s and 1980s to making her passion for charity and advocacy well known, it's no wonder Anne is one of the most liked royals currently on the scene (via YouGov).

While her older brother, Prince Charles, has certainly captured the majority of press and popular attention, Anne has had a bit of a rollercoaster existence within the royal family. There's a lot to know about the Princess Royal, and so much of it consists of unusual facts no one saw coming. Here are strange facts about Princess Anne.

Anne did not bestow titles on her children

You would think that, as the only daughter of Britain's longest-reigning monarch, Princess Anne would bestow every title she could to her own children to carry on royal traditions. But, in an unusual move, Anne decided not to give either of her children royal titles, breaking with royal tradition as she did so. 

During an interview with Vanity Fair, Anne explained why she opted not to give them HRH (His/Her Royal Highness) titles even though her mother, Queen Elizabeth, could've offered HRH titles if so desired. "I think it was probably easier for them, and I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles," Anne explained. "So I think that was probably the right thing to do."

However, Anne didn't strip away all family traditions, and, like her father and brother, she sent her children to boarding school from an early age. She told Vanity Fair she's "a firm believer" in boarding school and its "benefits" — so don't think Anne is completely adverse to royal traditions. She just has her own opinions.

Anne isn't close to the British throne

Everyone and their mother knows Prince Charles is the first in line to the British throne, and a lot of us who aren't royal experts would naturally assume his younger sister — and second-born child of Queen Elizabeth — would be second in line. Well, a strange fact about Anne is that, not only is she not second, third, fourth, or even fifth in line for the British throne, she is, in fact, 17th in line. That's right, 16 royal family members are between Queen Elizabeth and Anne in the line of succession.

Let's break it down. Charles is followed by his eldest son, Prince William, in the line of succession, who is then followed by William's three children. Charles' youngest son, Prince Harry, is next, and then his children fall in line. So, naturally, you'd think that Anne would slip in here, as would her children. But that's not how it worked out for Anne, given that she's a woman. Until the Succession to the Crown Act passed in 2013, female members of the royal family were displaced by male siblings and relatives. Strange? Sexist? Yes, but true.

She technically has a criminal record

We were absolutely stunned by this fact, too, but Princess Anne technically has a criminal record. No, she's not accused of trying to steal crown jewels or anything of cinematic nature, but, rather, her legal battle includes a dispute involving her dog. As reported by The Washington Post in November 2002, Anne "stood in court like any commoner" when she was tried in criminal court for letting her dog run off leash — the dog, a bull terrier, ultimately attacked two children, whose family subsequently took the Princess Royal to court. 

As a result of the trial, Anne had to pay $785 to the family and was told her dog, Dotty, would have to stay on leash in all public places for the remainder of its life. Just the fact that a royal was in court for the first time in modern history was something else, but, that aside, the family of the two children attacked didn't think the princess paid enough for the incident. "We do not think justice has been done," the parents said in their statement. "The dog is still free and is a danger to society." In addition to the money paid to the family, Anne had to pay $390 worth of compensation and $230 in court fees.

Anne was the subject of an attempted kidnapping

We were absolutely floored when we learned Princess Anne is the survivor of an attempted kidnapping. As detailed by Smithsonian Magazine, Anne and her husband were on their way back to Buckingham Palace after attending an event on March 20, 1974. At about 8 p.m., they were joined by her bodyguard and the driver. As their car headed toward the palace, another vehicle forced Anne's driver to stop and pull over — then, all hell broke loose. 

A man wielding two handguns lunged toward the vehicle, shooting Anne's bodyguard. The assailant, Ian Ball, was said to be "targeting the celebrity royal of Britain's day." Once he disarmed the bodyguard, Ball tried to force the door open where the princess was seated, telling her, "Please come out. You've got to come." Anne, whose dress was subsequently ripped in the struggle, later recalled a "very irritating conversation," telling police, "I kept saying I didn't want to get out of the car, and I was not going to get out of the car." So what exactly did Anne say to Ball when he told her to get out of the car? "Not bloody likely."

The Princess Royal holds these designated military titles

When we think of princesses, some of us may envision Disney cartoons. From the beautiful gowns to the animal sidekicks, it's hard not to romanticize the status so many of us wanted to occupy when we were little. But, for Princess Anne, her life isn't all gorgeous jewels and banquets, and, in a strange and surprising twist, we found out Anne has been an active military member since 1974. As noted by Veranda, the Princess Royal occupied the role of Chief Commandant of the Women's Naval Service when she started her military career until it was folded into the rest of the Royal Navy and her position was renamed Chief Commandant of Women in the Royal Navy.

By 2012, Anne had assumed the rank of Admiral and has had five royal naval ships named for her since. As she is the princess of the Commonwealth countries, it makes sense that Anne's military roles extend beyond Britain. She is the colonel of a number of different regiments in Canada, the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Army Nursing Corps and the Corps of Signals in New Zealand, and the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Corps of Transport and the Royal Australian Corps of Signals. Given that her father and mother both served in the military, Anne's service makes a lot of sense, albeit not the typical you'd assume of a princess.

Anne was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize

Here's a fact about Princess Anne we definitely didn't expect to find — the president of Namibia once nominated her for the Nobel Peace Prize. As noted by Vogue, President Kaunda of Zambia nominated Anne for the peace prize in 1990 for her work with the organization Save the Children. Anne became the president of the advocacy group in 1970 and remained in her post all the way until 2017 (she is now the patron of the organization). 

For her contribution to children's rights throughout the world, President Kaunda said, "She loves people. She has extended that love to working for helpless children in many parts of the world. That is love in action" (via Express). As for her role in the organization, Anne shared with Vanity Fair that it took her a good deal of time before she felt as though she was making a positive difference. "It took me probably 10 years before I really felt confident enough to contribute to Save the Children's public debates, because you needed to understand how it works on the ground and that needed a very wide coverage," she said. "So my early trips were really important."

Anne is one of the most dedicated royals

It's hard to imagine dedicating yourself to an entire cause and way of life that you'll never get to grow within or lead yourself, and, while it may seem strange, that's exactly what Princess Anne has done. Despite her distance from the throne — as aforementioned, she is 17th in the line of succession — Anne is one of the hardest working royals

As noted by Wales Online, by September 2021, Anne had carried out more royal duties within the year than any other working member of the family. Specifically, she had seen through more than 110 royal engagements, which equated to about 106 days of work. In July 2021 alone, she carried out 25 days' worth of engagements alone. Her brother and direct heir to the throne, Prince Charles, was behind her with 101 engagements, as of September 2021.

So why is Anne so dedicated, even though she will never sit on the throne like Charles? For her, it's all about giving back. "It's not just about, 'Can I get a tick in the box for doing this?' No, it's about serving," she told Vanity Fair. "It comes from an example from both my parents' way of working and where they saw their role being."

Anne's personal letters were stolen and given to a tabloid

When it comes to privacy, many, if not all, of us want to feel entitled to keeping some things just that — private. And, in a strange and violating occurrence, private letters in Princess Anne's possession were stolen from her and sent to a tabloid in Britain, bringing the princess instantaneous judgment and pressure. As Honey noted, in 1989, Anne's private correspondence was taken from her personal briefcase. She was married to Captain Mark Phillips at the time and was already a mom to both Zara and Peter Phillips, and, despite having been married for 15 years, rumors were circulating that the royal marriage was cracking at the foundation. 

As it turned out, Anne was having an affair with Queen Elizabeth's equerry, Timothy Laurence, and the confirmation of said affair was only known to Anne's "inner circle." But in April 1989, letters between Anne and Laurence (who later became her second husband) were stolen from her possession and sent to The Sun in what can only be described as a purely exploitative move. The Sun later confirmed they had the letters in their possession, but decided not to print them due to their "steamy nature" and subsequently handed them over to police.

The royal is somewhat of a reckless driver

Raise your hand if you've seen the viral photos of Queen Elizabeth driving her Range Rover on the royal grounds — we have, and while she definitely looks like a badass doing so, she's not the only royal known for her behavior behind the wheel. In a surprising twist, we learned Princess Anne is a bit of a reckless driver with the rap sheet to prove it.

As noted by The Guardian, her documented driving faults date all the way back to 1972, when she was pulled over for going 90 miles per hour on the M1 highway. Five years later, she was ticketed for roughly $50 for again going above 96 miles per hour in a 70 miles per hour zone. The princess' driving habits certainly didn't cease, despite the tickets. In 1990, she was fined about $200 and was ultimately banned from driving for a month after acknowledging she was caught speeding on two separate occasions. And, yet again, in 2001, Anne was pulled over in her Bentley for driving 93 miles per hour, 23 miles above the speed limit. She was ultimately fined about $530 and suffered five penalty points on her driver's license.

Anne's wedding day is a national holiday

If you're anything of a celebrator, then you know there's a national holiday for just about everything — National Donut Day, National Best Friend Day, even a National Spaghetti Day, and a whole 24 hours dedicated to honoring Super Mario. But what if an important day in your personal life became a national holiday for everyone else? Talk about strange and slightly uncomfortable, but that's the case for Princess Anne.

As noted by Yahoo! News, November 13 is a national holiday in the U.K., as it marks the day Anne married Captain Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey — awkward now that the two are divorced, but it's a national holiday nevertheless. The day in question was a lavish affair watched by about 500 million people worldwide and thousands in the streets of London. The BBC aired about eight hours of news coverage as the couple tied the knot, as not only was it a royal wedding (which always garner attention), but it was a rather historic day. Yahoo! News noted that Anne's marriage to Mark was only the second occurrence in a 200-year history that a royal married a commoner.

Anne was the first royal to compete in the Olympics

While the royal family might catch a bit of flack for all the jewels and ballgowns and work that sometimes doesn't actually seem like work, it's safe to say that Princess Anne has defined herself outside the royal norm. In a slightly strange, but overall awesome, turn of events, Anne became the first member of the royal family to compete in the Olympic Games, making quite a name for herself in equestrian sports.

As noted by CBC, Anne competed as a member of the British equestrian team during the 1976 Olympic Games in Canada. At just 25 years of age, she took part in the cross country course watched by members of her family, including Queen Elizabeth. While it was the monarch's ninth visit to the Commonwealth country, it marked significant importance that year, and she watched alongside Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, and Captain Mark Phillips as Anne represented her country in more ways than one. While she didn't take home a medal during the Games, she certainly shone bright and brought the royal family onto a brand-new stage. Anne went on to join the International Olympic Committee in 1988.

She doesn't consider herself a feminist

It's safe to say that Princess Anne has set herself apart in the royal family. She didn't give her children royal titles, she's an Olympian, she's one of the hardest working members of the monarchy, and she has a real no-fuss attitude about her. But, despite her trailblazing approach to royalty and obvious displays of equality (one we will detail in just a bit), she told Vanity Fair she doesn't consider herself a feminist. While Vanity Fair detailed that the princess "decline[d] to identify herself as a feminist," she did express her desire "to see every young person achieve their full potential." 

We're all for the latter sentiment, but something seemed a little strange about the distinction, especially when you take into account some of the very feminist-inspired actions Anne has done throughout her royal career. For example, in 1994, Queen Elizabeth appointed Anne to the Order of the Garter — a historic order that makes up one of the hundreds of titles you hear attached to the royal family members. However, instead of being welcomed as a Lady, Anne insisted on being "installed as Royal Knight of the Order," according to the royal website.

Anne was the first royal to compete on a TV game show

Seeing a royal family member way out of their comfort zone is sort of like seeing your middle school teacher in the supermarket — you're not entirely sure how to take it, because it's always a little weird to see such designated people so clearly out of the environment where you recognize them best. That certainly was the case for Princess Anne, because, in a strange public relations stunt, she competed on the BBC panel quiz game "A Question of Sport" in 1987.

The move not only put the Princess Royal in a totally different environment than where people were typically used to seeing her, but it also made her the first member of the royal family to "appear as a contestant on a television quiz-show," according to the royal website. However strange, the move certainly garnered a lot of attention. Per The Guardian, an estimated 19 million people tuned in to watch Anne battle it out on the show's 200th episode. The appearance reportedly displayed a "mischievous sense of humor" on Anne's part, which no doubt assisted in boosting her public persona and popularity amongst viewers.

The royal was the BAFTA president for almost 30 years

When we think about royalty in the movie industry, our thoughts immediately go to the early 2000s classic "The Princess Diaries," starring the lovely Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews. We never actually thought, for whatever odd reason, that real royal family members would get involved in the movie business, but, in a strange and ultimately career-defining move, Princess Anne turned her attention to the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), serving as president from 1972 until 2001, according to the royal website. Today, Prince William serves as president of the organization, a position he's held since 2010.

If you're not super well versed in film, the BAFTA award is essentially the British equivalent of an Academy Award in the U.S., and being in such a tremendous position of influence was quite unique for the Princess Royal. As BAFTA noted, Anne helped "increase the stature of the organi[z]ation" both in the U.K. and throughout the world during her time as president, even traveling to the U.S. as a representative during the Royal Day of Film and Television in 1985. When she stepped down from the role, the BAFTA headquarters was renamed the Princess Anne Theatre, an ode to her time serving the organization.