Why did Princess Anne and her first husband divorce? The Crown fact-checked

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All 10 episodes of The Crown season four are streaming on Netflix now and fans are curious to know more about the truth behind the series. In the latest outing, Princess Anne (played by Erin Doherty) has recently married Mark Phillips but expresses her unhappiness in the marriage.

Why did Princess Anne and Mark Phillips divorce?

In episode four of The Crown, titled Favourites, Queen Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman) reflects on her role as a mother and her relationships with her four children: Charles (Josh O’Connor) Anne, Andrew (Tom Byrne) and Edward (Angus Imrie).

During the episode, Elizabeth has one-on-one lunches with her children, where Anne opens up to her mother about her unhappiness.

Anne had recently married Olympic gold-medal-winning horseman Mark Phillips in November 1973 and they had two children together Peter and Zara.

In the episode, the Queen asked Anne if everything in her marriage was well, noting: “There’s been…talk.”

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Elizabeth was referring to rumours of an affair, between Anne and Sergeant Peter Cross, her bodyguard.

In 1984, Cross confirmed the affair to The News of the World and Harry Arnold at The Sun who initially broke the story in the early 1980s.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, royal expert Marlene Koenig briefly explained Anne’s relationships.

She said: “Anne has been married twice. Her first husband was Mark Phillips, a fellow equestrian. They met in 1968 at a party for equestrians.

“They were married on November 14, 1973, at Westminster Abbey. They separated in August 1989.

“There had been rumours about the state of their marriage for some time [and] they divorced in 1992.”

She continued: “Although it was not publicly known at the time, Mark had fathered a daughter with a New Zealand art teacher in August 1985.

“He took a DNA test in 1991, which proved that he was Felicity’s father.

“Anne was also involved in an extramarital affair with Tim Laurence (Laurence was the queen’s equerry), whom she married in December 1992.

“The first reports of her infidelity came in the spring of 1989, again front-page news.”

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Mark Phillips’ affair is not mentioned in The Crown, but he did have one in late 1984 with New Zeland art teacher Heather Tonkin.

Their daughter, Felicity was born in August 1985.

He then went on to marry Sandy Pflueger, an American Olympic dressage rider and they had a daughter Stephanie together in 1997.

On May 2012, it was announced Mark and Sandy had separated.

The Sun’s Arnold, who originally broke the story of Anne’s affair shared in the 2002 documentary, The Real Princess Anne: “I was told from an absolutely amazing source that he was having an affair with Princess Anne.

“I couldn’t use the word affair, so I invented the phrase that he became ‘overly-familiar’ with Princess Anne.”

He also revealed Cross got in touch with him two years later 1984 to confirm the story.

Princess Anne and Phillips announced their intention to separate in August 1989, eventually divorcing in 1992.

She went on to marry naval officer Commander Timothy Laurence in 1992 and they remain together today.

The Crown is streaming on Netflix now

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