Who is Mark Phillips?
Captain Mark Anthony Peter Phillips CVO ADC(P) is a prominent British equestrian and skilled horseman who won Olympic gold medal as part of the Great Britain Eventing Team. He is also famous as first husband of Anne, Princess Royal, the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Phillips attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst following which he was assigned into 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards as a Second Lieutenant. Eventually he moved up the career rung. He was appointed a Personal aide-de-camp to Queen Elizabeth II and retired from the Army as Captain. His involvement in equestrian sports saw him becoming a reserve member of the British equestrian team during the 1968 Olympics; and member of the British three days event teams that thrived in winning a world title, a European title and most notably gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics. He also won a silver medal during 1988 Summer Olympics as part of the British team. Presently Phillips is associated with UK’s oldest equestrian weekly magazine ‘Horse & Hound’ as regular columnist and with United States Eventing Association (USEA) as Chef d'Equipe.
Childhood & Early Life
Mark Anthony Peter Phillips was born on September 22, 1948, in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England, to Major Peter William Garside Phillips, MC and Anne Patricia Phillips (née Tiarks). His mother attended Downe House and remained part of the Women's Royal Naval Service at the time of the Second World War. She was the daughter of John Gerhard Edward Tiarks. The latter served during World War I and World War II and became a Brigadier. From 1947 till 1950 Tiarks remained aide-de-camp to King George VI.
Phillips attended Stouts Hill Preparatory School and thereafter studied at the Marlborough College. He later enrolled at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
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Military & Equestrian Career & Other Endeavours
During the 1968 Summer Olympics, Phillips remained a reserve member of the British equestrian team. After completing his stint with Sandhurst, in July 1969, he was inducted in the 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards as a Second Lieutenant. The following year he remained a member of the British three-day event team that won a world title.
In January 1971, he was elevated as a Lieutenant. That year the British three-day event team that included Phillips won a European title. Same year he emerged as winner of the Badminton Horse Trials, riding on Great Ovation. He went on to win the five-day event three more times - in 1972 with Great Ovation, in 1974 with Colombus and in 1981 with Lincoln.
One of his most notable feats was winning an Olympic gold medal in team eventing as part of the British team during the 1972 Summer Olympics. Individually, he garnered 35th rank that year.
Moving on Phillips was elevated as an acting Captain. On February 1, 1974, he garnered the honorary military appointment as Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty The Queen (AdC(P)). On August 15, same year, he was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO). In July 1975, he received promotion as a Captain in the Army.
On March 30, 1978, Phillips retired as a Captain from the Army. As retired cavalry captains involved with equestrian sports can use their rank even after retirement from the Army, Phillips followed suit and is thus called Captain Mark Phillips.
He also took part in equestrian events during the 1988 Summer Olympics. He failed to finish the individual three-day event as his horse suffered from a pulled muscle. He however succeeded in winning a silver medal as part of the British squad in team eventing.
The cross-country course for the Red Hills Horse Trials, one of the top events in equestrian world held in Tallahassee, Florida, US, was designed by Phillips in 1998.
At present he serves the non-profit organization United States Eventing Association (USEA) as a Chef d'Equipe. USEA organizes, fosters and adjudicates equestrian eventing in the US. He also serves as a regular columnist for the equestrian weekly magazine ‘Horse & Hound’.
Family & Personal Life
Equestrian activities of Phillips led him to cross path with Princess Anne, who had been a horse lover for most part of her life. The two first met in 1968 during a horse lovers’ party. Eventually they bonded well and engagement of the two was declared on May 29, 1973. Their marriage was held on November 14 that year at Westminster Abbey with Princess Anne’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, her parents The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, imminent members of the British royal family and other royal guests in attendance. The wedding ceremony was televised around the world.
After their marriage, Phillips and Anne lived at Gatcombe Park that was bought by The Queen as wedding gift for the couple. Together they have two children, son Peter born in 1977 and daughter Zara born in 1981. The two children were born sans any courtesy titles as according to reports Phillips declined an offer for an earldom, a custom observed for untitled men getting married into the royal family.
His marriage with Anne hit the rocks that led the couple announce their intention to separate on August 31, 1989. Initially they mentioned that they have no plans for divorce. They were hardly seen in public together and reportedly both Phillips and Anne were seeing other people. The couple finally divorced on April 23, 1992. They have four grandchildren.
Meanwhile Phillips became father of a girl called Felicity in August 1985 through his extramarital affair with Heather Tonkin, an art teacher from New Zealand. A DNA test conducted during a 1991 paternity suit confirmed him as the father.
He later married an American and Kama'aina equestrienne Sandy Pflueger on February 1, 1997. On October 2, 1997, the couple welcomed their daughter Stephanie. Phillips however remained unsuccessful in his second marriage as well with his solicitor confirming on May 3, 2012 that the couple separated and have plans for divorce. According to sources Phillips left Pflueger after getting romantically associated with a woman called Lauren Hough.
His daughter, Zara, is also an equestrian and Olympian and has won a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics as part of the Great Britain Eventing Team.