Happy Birthday, Princess Anne! 5 Things You Don't Know about the Queen's Tough-as-Nails Only Daughter
Her response to a would-be kidnapper is legendary
Having just spent the last 10 days at the Olympic Games in Rio, where she was stunningly saluted by the Fiji rugby team, Queen Elizabeth‘s second child and only daughter, Princess Anne was back on home soil on Monday to celebrate her 66th birthday.
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Here are some surprising facts about the flinty, athletic and impressively thrifty royal mom of two (and grandmother of three!), born on August 15, 1950 – and the only one of Elizabeth’s four children to be singled out for her own portrait with the monarch mom back in April.
1. She Was the Target of a Kidnapping Attempt
Returning to Buckingham Palace in 1974 from a charity event with her first husband, Mark Phillips – the father of her kids Peter and Zara – the then 23-year-old princess was almost kidnapped and held for ransom. After swerving in front of her chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, would-be kidnapper Ian Ball fired six shots, injuring four men before being captured. According to documented evidence, Ball told Anne to get out, to which her response was: “Not bloody likely!” Ball was caught by police and sentenced to life in prison.
2. She’s an Olympian
In 1976, Princess Anne became the first British royal to make it to the Games, which were held in Montreal, Canada. Competing in the equestrian competition both individually and as part of a team, she placed 24th overall, while Britain came in 9th. In a rare exception to the rules, she was the only female competitor not to have to take a gender identification test.
Nearly 30 years later in the 2012 London Games, Anne’s daughter Zara made her own Olympic debut, also as an equestrian.
3. She Was a Royal Recycler Long Before Princess Kate
Known for her thrifty fashion sense as much as she is for her signature (and unchanging!) “cottage loaf” hairstyle, Anne was recycling outfits way before Princess Kate took a page from her frugal playbook. In 2008, Anne wore the same ruffled-hem floral outfit to Lady Rose Windsor’s wedding that she had worn 27 years earlier to her older brother Prince Charles‘s nuptials to Lady Diana. (She even topped off the vintage outfit with the same canary yellow hat!) Just last year, she recycled a 35-year-old outfit to Royal Ascot – and pulled it off.
4. She’s No Slacker
Carrying out 544 engagements in 2015 – an average of 10 per week – Anne, who is 11th in line to the throne, “has one of the busiest working schedules of any member of the Royal Family” states the official website of the British Monarchy. Involved with more than 300 charities, including her role as president of Save the Children, which she has supported since 1970, she even beats future king Prince Charles, who attended 17 fewer events in the same year.
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5. She Shares an Ex with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
The often imposing-looking royal has had no shortage of romantic suitors. In 1970, she dated Andrew Parker Bowles, the first husband of Prince Charles’s current wife, Camilla. After reportedly having her heart broken, Anne went onto marry Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey in 1973. Amid reports of an affair with her personal bodyguard, Sergeant Peter Cross, and the discovery of love letters from naval officer Sir Timothy Laurence, the couple split in 1989 and divorced in 1992. Just months later, she married Laurence in a small church ceremony. Earlier this year, it was revealed that a screenplay has been penned about Anne’s love life, titled Anne: The Frisky Princess.