Like father, like daughter: Prince Philip and Princess Anne's bond was unrivalled
In wild west jeans and a plaid shirt, Princess Anne has a joke with Prince Philip between chukkas in Smith's Lawn, Windsor Great Park
The Duke of Edinburgh and his daughter Anne, the Princess Royal, were members of an exclusive two-person admiration society. It was a relationship that was totally unqualified and neither father nor daughter could see anything wrong in the other; Indeed, one way to annoy one of the two was to criticize the other.
They shared many of the same traits of being open, aggressive, tenacious, strong-willed, and sarcastic, and also the same sense of humor that was often at the expense of others. Neither would like to - or ever - suffer fools, and both were impatient with those who didn't understand things as quickly as they did.
From Prince Philip, Anne inherited her complete honesty and her unwillingness to compromise on matters she believes in.
It all started when Anne was a young girl. She quickly realized that she had to take second place after her brother, Prince Charles. As she once told me: "I got used to being a 'tail-end Charlie' from an early age."
Philip, who was also forced to assume a subordinate role from the moment his wife ascended to the throne, immediately began teaching his only daughter how to deal with the frustrations and difficulties of a court life in which all the attention was focused on her brother .
People always said Anne was their father's girl and she never contradicted anyone who had such an opinion. She has the same outlook on life and very similar clear opinions - especially through the media. Both tended to be abrupt with photographers, especially when attending a sporting event, and neither was ever afraid to be offended, occasionally with the associated four-letter word.
There is a strong physical resemblance and some similar mannerisms. Anne loves sports and growing up she was constantly with her father playing polo. It was Philip who taught Anne to sail on Loch Muick on the Balmoral Estate, and it was he who turned her enthusiasm towards athletic rather than academic achievement.
Prince Philip and Princess Anne occupy Owen Aisher's Class 1 yacht, Yeoman XVI, which the Prince used in the Britannia Challenge Cup race in Cowes - Ken Mason
In fact, no one was happier or prouder than her father when Anne won the three-day European Equestrian Championship in 1971 and then represented Great Britain at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Both were extremely competitive and neither believed second place was a goal. Princess Anne often tops the unofficial ranking for the number of public engagements she does in a year. Under normal circumstances, it's usually around the 500 mark, and even during the Covid-19 restrictions, it still managed to do over 300. She says she sees no reason to have a day off; Neither does Prince Philip.
Both had a deep sense of duty and I once asked them (independently) if they found some of the tasks they were supposed to perform unbearably boring. The answers from each of them were masterpieces in understatement.
Anne merely admitted that "some are more interesting than others," while Philip said, "It's the price we pay for the positions we fill." But just because they loved and admired each other didn't mean they always agreed. They would sometimes argue with hammer and tongs over various topics they were both interested in, like wildlife or conservation. It seemed like a serious argument to any outsider, but they always seemed to end on the best of terms.
It was a truly genuine father-daughter relationship that was valued by both of them equally. It never stalled. There was an almost eerie telepathy between them. They were on exactly the same wavelength even with Anne's divorce from Mark Phillips, although her father was very distressed privately as he thought their marriage would last.
Princess Anne the Princess Royal at a meeting in Balmoral for her parents' silver wedding anniversary in 1972
Although the palace was known to be "white-hot" with anger when he heard the news of his daughter's affair with Tim Laurence, a former stable master to the Queen, whom she later married, all his anger was not directed at Tim Anne.
I spoke to Princess Anne once about her parents' relationship and she said that Prince Philip was the only person in the world who told the Queen what she needed to know. Everyone else, politicians and courtiers, told her what they thought they heard.
If there was one way the two differed, it was their attitude towards outsiders. Philip was always provocative; he seemed to go out of his way to stir up an argument just to get some kind of debate going, so long as he ended up winning even with strangers. Anne is more like the queen in this regard. She may disagree with someone's opinion, but unless they are close friends or acquaintances, she rarely gets into an argument.
Prince Philip's relationship with his daughter was much closer than that with any of his sons. He was a loving father to everyone, but it was unique as far as Anne was concerned. Prince Charles and his father are known to have not always been on an equal footing, but it was more a case of disappointment on Philip's part than anger. As someone who could and would make an immediate decision, he just didn't understand that Charles wasn't following him on this matter.
It was very different with Anne. Since childhood, she has been able to decide whether she wants to do something - or not. A quality that she inherited from her father. Prince Philip was showered with honors during his lifetime and it was he who encouraged Princess Anne to accept the title of Princess Royal in 1987.
She had refused any title for her own children - the Duke's first grandchildren, to whom he was particularly close - but Prince Philip felt that this would be in recognition of her longstanding dedicated public service and agreed to it. If it is true that Prince Philip believed his daughter was "the son I never had," then Anne, the Princess Royal, could perhaps be described as his true legacy.
Brian Hoey is the author of Anne: The Private Princess Revealed
In this article:
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Anne, Princess Royal
Charles, Prince of Wales
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