Perhaps slightly overlooked, slightly stiff, and perhaps slightly too horsey, Princess Anne has none the less been a dedicated member of the Royal Family. Once heard to comment brilliantly on public appearances, that people “expect me to neigh, grind my teeth, paw the ground and swish my tail,” she hasn’t been put off appearing in public, making over 500 of them in 2016, more than many of her royal counterparts.

Here we take a look back through the surprisingly rock ‘n’ roll life of a royal princess – from early romances with Andrew Parker Bowles, to marriage to Mark Phillips and the controversial birth of daughter Zara Phillips.

Horse lovers

From the historic refrain of Richard III, through to Kate Middleton and of course Zara Phillips in modern times, a love of the equine has a rich tradition through many generations of the royal family. Like Anne, a certain debutante called Camilla Shand shared a love of horses, as well as the same circuit of shows as Anne. As it happens, they shared more than just a love of the equestrian scene. Camilla, later to become Camilla Parker Bowles, was once merely engaged to Andrew Parker Bowles, during which time it’s rumoured that Andrew and Anne embarked on an illicit affair.

Meeting by chance at Royal Lodge, Anne, then just 19, became smitten with Andrew, who at the time was a captain in the Royal Horse Guards. Andrew was around 10 years older, and known as rather a dashing chap. It probably helped that his father Derek was a close friend of the Queen Mother. He was known as a talented horseman, and once participated in the Grand National. He was also, as rumour has it, a talented lover, and was connected to a slew of women, Lady Caroline Percy and Lady Annabel Lindsay being just some of the more prominent names amongst them.

Ultimately their affair came to an end when Andrew was moved to serve out in Germany. In the best traditions of the Royal Family these small circles of friends and lovers fanned out, only slightly, and Anne moved on to other things. Andrew married Camilla, only to divorce, while Camilla ultimately married Prince Charles, Anne’s brother. One hopes they all remained friends.

Of course, it was inevitable that some said Camilla’s pursuit of Charles was a revenge move against Andrew. Meanwhile, Anne’s disappointment at Andrew going back to Camilla at the time was swiftly assuaged by her marriage to Mark Phillips some four months later…

Captain Phillips

Mark Phillips was another captain and cavalry man, and, some have said, the spitting image of Andrew Parker Bowles. Anne did have a definite type it would seem. Altogether considered to be less handsome, less well bred, and less accomplished than Andrew, there was nonetheless definite chemistry between Mark and Anne that served them well for a passionate 19-year marriage. Their shared love of horses saw them entering competitions together, as well as rumoured sightings of a rocking horsebox at times when they attended shows together.

Zara was born in 1981 and the plot thickened. It seemed that Anne had become rather close to her personal bodyguard, Sergeant Peter Cross, and there were rumours that he was actually Zara’s father. They would spend ‘days in the country’ as the euphemism went, and were often at a rural bolthole in Gloucestershire together.

Appointed by the Royal Protection Squad, Cross was ultimately removed from his assignment, taxing as it no doubt was, and then went on to tell all to a well-known newspaper where he admitted the affair. He said that, having given birth to Zara, Anne had contacted Cross before she had contacted her husband. Cross was known as a vain and promiscuous man, and this was echoed in a statement by the Royal Family, although interestingly the affair was never denied.

Oh Timothy!

By now it was the 90s and the age of the tabloid, and Anne had yet another brush with the red-tops. Timothy Lawrence wrote a love letter to Anne, proclaiming his ardour, which promptly got in to the hands of the newspapers. Anne, slightly savvier by now, quashed the rumours and took swift action, announcing that they would marry. They tied the knot in 1992, eight months after her divorce from Mark Phillips. Anne, it seemed was not one to mope around following heartbreak. She got straight back on the horse, as it were.

Princess Anne and Timothy Lawrence to this day seem to be as happily married as they ever were. Although rumours of a rekindling between Anne and Andrew Parker Bowles have re-emerged – the two have been seen together on a few occasions – it’s unclear if there is anything more to this than royal chatter. Anne, despite a perhaps unfair reputation as being cold and precise, has lived a life of surprising passion and abandon, as well as showing a hard-headedness that many women would envy.

If all this talk of horses, men in uniform, and extra-marital affairs has got you frisky, maybe you should consider buying your way into this intriguing lifestyle. With you can purchase noble rank, and get a taste for the decadent and bourgeois. One you’ve become a legitimate Lord or Lady you can have titles added to driver’s licences, passports, and other official documents, so that the only thing that can give you away is your equestrian skills – and general poor breeding.