- The marriage was watched by 500 million around the world in 1973
- Crowds lined the streets, there was a balcony appearance – and a bank holiday
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Of all the many royal weddings in the past decades, there is one that stands out not for the extravagance – although it was certainly very grand – and not for any constitutional significance.
But because the marriage of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips of the 1st Queens Dragoon Guards in 1973 was the first to be broadcast in the age of mass television ownership – and it was in colour!
More than 500 million tuned in to watch the ceremony at Westminster Abbey on November 14 – 50 years ago today.
Anne was the first of Queen Elizabeth’s children to marry. Crowds lined the streets and there was a balcony appearance afterwards.
And so the template was set for the weddings that followed.
Anne had first met Captain Phillips at a horse-riding event in Mexico City in 1968.
Both were skilled horse riders and competed at a high level. Phillips was a member of the gold medal eventing team at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Anne competed for Britain at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
They announced their engagement in May 1973.
At the official photo call, during which Anne showed off her sapphire and diamond engagement ring, she was asked if their marriage could withstand the pressure of public duty.
In reply, she famously quipped: ‘Can? It’s got to, hasn’t it?’
The wedding day itself was declared a bank holiday.
Princess Anne was accompanied to the ceremony in the Glass State Coach by her father, the late Duke of Edinburgh.
The Princess emerged from her carriage to reveal a Tudor-style wedding dress made by Maureen Baker, the chief designer at Susan Small.
The embroidered gown featured a high-collar and trumpet sleeves.
Wearing her hair in an elegant chignon, Anne secured her veil in place with Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara – the one worn by her mother, Queen Elizabeth, had worn at her 1947 wedding to Prince Philip.
Anne included myrtle in her bouquet – symbolising love, youth and loyalty – a tradition for royal brides since the 1850s.
This had started with Queen Victoria, who carried myrtle in her own bouquet when she married Prince Albert in 1840.
After the ceremony, she planted the shrub in her garden at Osborne on the Isle of Wight.
More than a century later, Anne’s bouquet included myrtle from that same garden.
The Queen, the Queen Mother, the Prince of Wales, and Prince Andrew arrived in the Scottish State Coach.
Princess Anne chose to have only one bridesmaid, her nine-year-old cousin, Lady Sarah Chatto (Armstrong-Jones), daughter of Princess Margaret, while Captain Eric Grounds served as the groom’s best man.
The page boy was Anne’s younger brother, Prince Edward.
The service was traditional, conducted by Michael Ramsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Anne’s wedding ring was crafted from Welsh gold.
Following the service, the couple returned to Buckingham Palace for a balcony appearance and a wedding lunch.
The wedding cake was over five feet – as tall as Princess Anne. It included five tiers of brandy-soaked fruit cake and topped off with a statue of a female jockey leaping a fence.
That evening, they stayed at White Lodge in Richmond Park – which today houses the Royal Ballet School – before starting their honeymoon on board the Royal Yacht Britannia, travelling the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The Queen was said to have offered Captain Phillips an earldom on his wedding day – in keeping with tradition. He declined.
This meant that after they welcomed their children, Peter Phillips in 1977 and daughter Zara Tindall in 1981, they would be the first grandchildren of the sovereign to have no title.
Anne and Mark were married for 19 years before ending in divorce after a long separation in 1992.
Becoming The Princess Royal in 1987m Anne went on to marry naval officer Commander Timothy Laurence later that year. As the Church of England did not permit remarriage after divorce, the ceremony took place in Scotland with only 30 guests in attendance.