This week, the Princess Royal received the Longines Ladies Award. We chart Her Royal Highness’ incredible career as an Olympic event rider and her contributions to equestrian sport.
Text Stacey Streshinsky
On Monday evening the Earth Hall of London’s Natural History Museum was decked out in midnight blue and snow-cap white as Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal was presented with the Longines Ladies Award, honouring her lifelong achievements at the highest level of equine sport.
The award crowns a remarkable career, outlined by Her Royal Highness’ many accomplishments both as a competitor and administrator, with many of Princess Anne’s peers lauding her as a supremely talented horsewoman who has made an enormous contribution to the sport.
The Princess Royal, however, is humble about her achievements, attributing her career mostly to circumstance. Speaking at the awards, Her Royal Highness noted, “For many children, the sport they do is because that is the one that is most available to them. I was lucky that there were horses involved. And I was lucky that I suppose, I was good enough and interested enough to go on with it.” The Princess Royal also spoke about equality, highlighting equine sport as historically equal for men and women.
The Princess Royal is the ultimate equestrian Boss Lady, and to celebrate her award, we recap five iconic moments of Princess Anne’s remarkable career.
1. The time Her Royal Highness won gold at the European Eventing Championships
In 1971 at Burghley, the then 21-year-old Princess Royal sent ripples through the equestrian sporting world when she became the first member of the British Royal Family to win a European title. She won the Championship together with her gorgeous thoroughbred Doublet, who was gifted to her by her mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
Photo by Chris Smith/Popperfoto/Getty Images
2. The time Her Royal Highness represented the UK at the Olympics
In 1976, 49 event riders from 13 countries competed at the Equestrian Events at the Summer Olympics in Vancouver. Among them was Princess Anne, the first Royal to participate in the Olympic Games. She spoke about the experience at the Longines Ladies Awards, noting: “To be selected for Montreal was a relief, in a way. There was a very good chance that we might have been selected for Munich in ’72, but in fact, that didn’t work out. So getting to Montreal and actually getting to ride was satisfying.”
3. The time Her Royal Highness was appointed president of the FEI
In 1986, The Princess Royal – following in the footsteps of her father, Prince Philip – assumed the post of president of the Fédération Équestre Internationale, the international governing body of equestrian sports. For Princess Anne, this was the natural progression of her career: “I’m old-fashioned in the sense that I think that the responsibility to manage, to administrate is part of your responsibility as an athlete to move on to.” She remained president of the organisation until 1994.
4. The time Her Royal Highness showed legendary footballer Emlyn Hughes who’s boss
In 1987, Princess Anne continued her line of Royal firsts by becoming the first member of the Royal Family to appear on a television quiz show, namely in A Question Of Sport. In what was arguably the show’s most famous episode, where Her Royal Highness was a guest on Emlyn Hughes’ team, Princess Anne solidified her reputation as a straight-talking royal as she poked fun at her team’s captain for mistaking her for the jockey John Reid in an episode aired two weeks prior.
5. The time Her Royal Highness passed on her equestrian talents to her daughter Zara Phillips.
In 1981, Princess Anne gave birth to her daughter Zara Anne Elizabeth Phillips, bringing another brilliant equestrian athlete into the world. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Phillips too has collected individual and also team gold medals at the 2005 European Eventing Championships at Blenheim, one of her many successes. In 2012 Phillips competed with the British Equestrian team at the Olympic Games in London, where she won silver in the team eventing, becoming the first member of the British Royal Family to place in the Olympics.
Photo courtesy of Longines