On November 14, 1973, over 500 million fans watched Princess Anne tie the knot with her first husband, Mark Phillips. This made her the first of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s four children to get married—and while the skilled equestrian is known for leading a relatively private life, she marked the occasion with a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey. (Complete with 2,000 guests, to be exact.)
But now, nearly five decades later, we’re ready to take a trip down memory lane with eight surprising details about Princess Anne’s wedding you probably didn’t know.
1. The wedding had a special connection to King Charles
The Princess Royal followed in her late mother’s footsteps by choosing to have a November wedding. But as it turns out, the big day also included a nod to King Charles because the date of the ceremony, November 25, is also his birthday.
2. Her bouquet included a tribute to Queen Victoria
Princess Anne continued a popular tradition that dates back to the 1800s, where royal brides include myrtle (AKA the herb of love) in their bouquets.
The custom started with Queen Victoria, who carried myrtle in her own bouquet when she married Prince Albert in 1840. And after they exchanged vows, the queen planted the myrtle shrub in her garden on the Isle of Wight. Over a century later, Anne’s stunning bouquet—which was made up of white roses, lilies of the valley and stephanotis—included a spring of myrtle from that same garden.
3. The wedding cake was as tall as Anne
Believe it or not, the princess’s elaborate wedding cake was as tall as Princess Anne: five feet, six inches. Made by the Royal Army Catering Corps, it included five tiers of brandy-soaked fruit cake, and each tier was shaped like a hexagon.
4. The dessert paid tribute to her equestrian background
The towering cake was topped with a statuette of a female jockey leaping a fence. It was a special nod to Anne’s successful career as an equestrian.
5. Her tiara was made from a diamond necklace
If the halo-shaped headdress looks familiar, that’s because the princess was loaned the exact same tiara that Queen Elizabeth wore on her wedding day. (You might also recognize it as the tiara that Princess Beatrice donned on her wedding day in 2020.)
According to the Royal Collection Trust website, the Russian fringe tiara was “made for Queen Mary from a diamond necklace” and “given by Queen Victoria for her wedding in 1893.”
6. Princess Anne had only one bridesmaid
Yep, that’s right. Princess Anne chose her 9-year-old cousin, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (the daughter of Princess Margaret), to be her only bridesmaid at the wedding.
7. She couldn’t elect Andrew as her pageboy
Since page boys are usually between three and 10 years old, her brother Andrew, who was already 13 at the time, was a bit too old to take on the role. Instead, her 9-year-old brother, Prince Edward, served as the pageboy in a tartan kilt.
8. Her engagement ring broke royal tradition
Instead of choosing an extravagant sparkler, Princess Anne wore a simple sapphire ring—a pattern we’ve seen with both Princess Diana and Kate Middleton.
In an interview with Express, engagement ring specialist Max Stone said, “It’s interesting that Princess Anne received sapphire engagement rings rather than traditional diamond rings. Blue sapphires are often linked to people who are respectful, loyal, hardworking and honest, which only makes these rings even more special, and this perhaps could have meant something to Princess Anne.”
“Both her rings are beautiful,” he continued, referring to her first and second engagement rings. “However, neither of the center stones are overstated. Instead, Princess Anne opted for more subtle engagement rings with unique detailing and meaningful symbolism.”
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