Princess Anne may enjoy a relatively quiet private life away from the royal spotlight, and is always widely praised for her work ethic. But she’s had her fair share of difficult times, especially in her romantic life, behind closed doors over the years.
Now, some of them are reportedly set to feature in the new series of hit TV show The Crown, unearthing secrets many may not have known about or even remember.
The younger Princess Royal will be played by Call the Midwife star Erin Doherty, and while the main storyline is being kept a closely guarded secret by Netflix, its been claimed it could focus on her past loves, sad divorce and long road to happiness in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Ahead of its release date – which is yet to be confirmed – we have taken a look back at the princess’ love affairs, heartbreaks and all the scandalous rumours surrounding her romantic life.
While she was regularly seen at royal functions and horse events in her younger years, one of the first men connected to Anne was the late Gerald Ward – who would later become Prince Harry’s godfather.
The soldier, banker, businessman, farmer and sportsman was regularly spotted with the princess shortly after she left Benenden school in her late teens. While the couple never confirmed their romance, it’s been claimed in several reports since that they shared a close bond at the time.
Ward went on to marry twice and had two daughters with his first wife, before he sadly passed away after collapsing on a golf course in 2008.
Shortly after that, she was romantically linked to horseman Richard Meade, who went on to win three Olympic gold medals for eventing. His son is now one of Prince William’s closest friends.
The couple never made things official, but were spotted at several equestrian events together at the time.
However, it came before one of the more high profile rumours to hit Princess Anne, when she met Andrew Parker Bowles around the age of 19.
A 2016 screenplay called Anne: The Frisky Princess claimed they enjoyed a brief affair, around the time Andrew began dating Camilla – now wife of Prince Charles.
It wasn’t to last, as Andrew went on to marry Camilla after all, while Anne moved on with her own first marriage – but previous reports have suggested she really fell for him at the time.
Indeed, royal biographer Penny Junor made the same claims in her book The Duchess: The Untold Story. She sensationally claimed Camilla first decided to strike up a romance with Prince Charles to get revenge on Andrew for allegedly cheating on her with Anne in the early 1970s.
None of the claims were confirmed.
While Andrew married Camilla in early 1973, Anne went on to marry Captain Mark Phillips just four months later. According to the Mail Online, a “friend” claimed at the time: “She was in pieces over Andrew’s marriage to Camilla. But she’s made of stern stuff — she sought out and found a Photofit of Andrew, and married him.”
Following a stunning wedding attended by the royal family, they enjoyed a 19 year marriage and welcomed son Peter and daughter Zara together.
However, despite what appeared to be a happy marriage, the rumours weren’t over for the princess – as she was then hit with claims she enjoyed a brief affair with a personal bodyguard, Sergeant Peter Cross of the Royal Protection Squad, who appeared in her life around 1979.
It’s claimed he was relieved of his duties shortly after, before selling his story to UK newspaper the News of the World in 1984 for a reported £600,000 (AU $1m) – said to be the equivalent of around £2million today.
In it, he made claims of them snuggling up together in front of the TV, allegations that the princess would ask him out for days in the country, and even an alleged rendezvous in a three-bedroom house in Surrey – none of which were ever confirmed.
According to the Mail Online, the palace slammed him at the time as “a vain man who indulged in several extramarital affairs”.
Shortly after the storm died down, Anne became involved with now-husband Timothy Laurence.
While he was unmarried at the time, letters between the pair were leaked to another UK newspaper shortly after. It didn’t stop their love story however, as they married shortly after in December 1992, eight months after her divorce from Phillips.
The couple have been together ever since and while they keep their private life largely out of the spotlight, they’re often spotted together at public events and royal engagements.