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Olympic medalist Mark Phillips is renowned as the commoner who married Princess Anne.
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Mark Philips earned distinction as a military official, serving in The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons). After winning a gold medal as an equestrian, Phillips became a national icon as the commoner husband of Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II.
Born on September 22, 1948, to parents Peter William Garside Phillips and Anne Patricia Phillips, Mark Anthony Peter Philips received a privileged upbringing. As a child he was educated at Marlborough College, and then entered Sandhurst Royal Military Academy. Upon graduation from Sandhurst, Phillips entered the military, joining The Royal Dragoon Guards. While rising in the ranks from Lieutenant to Captain, Phillips was named a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, in recognition of his service to the monarch of the British Royal Family, and a Personal Aide-de-Camp to the Queen, which allowed him to represent the ruling monarch and her viceroys.
In addition to his successful military career, Phillips was a talented horseman, and competed in three-day event riding on The Beaufort Hunt Pony Club Team for five years in the 1960s, reaching the finals on three separate occasions. He went on to win a Team Gold Medal at the Munich Olympics in 1972, and was on the winning teams for the 11th World Championships in 1970 and the 7th European Championships in 1971. He also won the championship title at Badminton in 1971, 1972, 1974 and 1981, and at Burghley in 1973. In addition to his talent as a three-day event rider, Phillips also became an accomplished show-jumper, competing on two winning Nation's Cup Teams. Phillips retired from professional competition in 1988, after earning a silver medal in the Seoul Olympic Games.
Horses also happened to be the link between Phillips and Princess Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince Phillip. Anne was an equally skilled equestrian, who had not only won the individual title at the European Eventing Championship, but was also voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1971. While competing on the equestrian circuit, Phillips and Princess Anne met and became friends. Their shared interest in horses evolved into a deeper relationship, and a romance blossomed between the commoner and the royal.
Phillips' relationship with Princess Anne became the subject of much speculation from the general public. But the intensely private Anne managed to keep the details of their relationship a closely guarded secret. The couple even kept the news of their engagement private for six weeks, before it was officially announced on May 29, 1973. The news of the couple's impending marriage placed Phillips and his royal fiancée under intense scrutiny by the media; their marriage would be the first in 200 years in which a member of the British Royal Family married a commoner.
The couple wed on November 14, 1973, at Westminster Abbey—the same church that housed the marriage ceremony of Princess Anne's parents, years before.
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