The Princess Royal is known for her charitable work, and is the only member of the British Royal Family to have competed in the Olympic Games.
She was baptised in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace on 21 October 1950 by Cyril Garbett, Archbishop of York. Her godparents were: The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Andrew Elphinstone, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark and The Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.
Shortly before the birth of her elder brother, Prince Charles, in 1948, their grandfather King George VI issued Letters Patent granting the titular dignity of Prince or Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the style Royal Highness to any children born to the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh. Thus, from birth, Princess Anne was styled Her Royal Highness Princess Anne of Edinburgh. Had it not been for these letters patent she would have been known as 'Lady Anne Mountbatten' until her mother became Queen in 1952.
On 6 February 1952, when Anne's grandfather, George VI, died, her mother ascended the throne as Elizabeth II. Anne was now styled Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne. Given her young age, she did not attend her mother's coronation. Princess Anne began to undertake royal and official duties as a teenager in the late 1960s. She has visited many countries and towns.
In 1981, following the retirement of The Queen Mother, Anne was elected Chancellor of the University of London, following an election by graduates of the university in which she was chosen above Jack Jones and Nelson Mandela.
In May 1996, Princess Anne served as Her Majesty's High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. This role granted her, in Scotland, for the duration, higher precedence just below her parents (above her brothers), and the alternative style of Her Grace Her Majesty's High Commissioner.
As is customary, the Queen is believed to have offered Capt. Phillips an earldom on his wedding day, which he turned down. This may also have been the specific wish of Princess Anne, who wanted to shield future children from the publicity that courtesy titles might bring. They thus became the first grandchildren of a sovereign to carry no title. However, they are not the first children of a British princess to carry no title. The children of Princess Alexandra, the Queen's cousin, who were born in the 1960s, are also untitled.
Princess Anne was the target of a failed kidnapping attempt on 20 March 1974. It remains the closest in modern times any individual has come to kidnapping a member of the British Royal Family.
The incident occurred as Princess Anne and Mark Phillips were returning to Buckingham Palace from a London charity event on Pall Mall. Their Austin Princess Limousine was forced to stop by a Ford Escort. The driver of the Escort, Ian Ball (later judged to be mentally unstable) jumped from his car, firing a gun. Inspector James Beaton, the Princess's personal police officer, responded by jumping out to shield the Princess as he tried to disarm Ball. However, Beaton's firearm jammed, and he was also shot in the head and chest by the assailant. The car's chauffeur, Alex Callender was also shot as he tried to disarm Mr. Ball. Journalist Brian McConnell, who was passing by, also tried to intervene and was shot once in the chest. As Ball told the Princess of his kidnapping plan and asked her to get out of the car, she replied "Not bloody likely!", and she briefly considered hitting Ball. Eventually, the Princess dived out of the car on the other side. A second passer-by, Ron Russell, punched Ball in the back of the head and led Anne from the scene. PC Michael Hills stumbled upon the scene, but he was shot by Ball. However, Hills managed to call for backup. A nearby police officer, DC Peter Edmonds gave chase, and he finally arrested Ball. In total, Mr. Ball had fired eleven times, hitting Beaton, Callender, McConnell, and a man passing by in a taxi. The people he shot were hospitalised, but they all recovered from their wounds.
Ball later pleaded guilty to attempted murder and attempted kidnapping, and he was detained under the Mental Health Act. He was sent to the Broadmoor Hospital, where he remains. Ball planned to ransom the Princess for a sum given in various sources as £2 million or £3 million to the NHS. The incident prompted higher security levels for the Royal Family. Police officer Beaton was awarded the George Cross for his defence of the Princess Royal. Alex Callender, Brian McConnell, Ron Russell, PC Michael Hills, and DC Peter Edmonds were awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.
In 2006 Granada Television produced a docu-drama entitled "To Kidnap a Princess" directed by John Alexander which related this incident.
The would-be kidnapper has placed bizarre advertisements directing readers to his Web site, which offers £1 million to anyone who can prove his theory that the whole incident in fact took place a year later, and formed part of a long-standing and elaborate persecution of Ball by a policeman.
She married Timothy Laurence in Crathie Kirk near the Balmoral Estate, Aberdeenshire. At the time of their marriage, he was a Royal Navy commander, and has since risen to the rank of Vice-Admiral. They have had no children together.
The Princess Royal is involved with over 200 charities and organisations in an official capacity. The Princess Royal works extensively for the charity Save the Children of which she has been president since 1970. The Princess Royal Trust for Carers was created on her initiative in 1991 - her work for the charity takes her all over the world, including many poverty stricken African nations. Also her extensive work for St. John Ambulance as Commandant-in-Chief of St. John Ambulance Cadets has helped to develop many young people as she annually attends the Grand Prior Award Reception. She is also a British representative in the International Olympic Committee as an administrator, and is a member of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.
The Princess Royal is also patron of the Scottish Rugby Union and attends most international games at Murrayfield. She is patron of the Wooden Spoon Society, the Charity of British and Irish rugby and of UK Youth, which supports over 750,000 young people across the UK.
In 2002, the Princess Royal was convicted of a second offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. She pleaded guilty to the charge that her dog, Dotty, attacked two boys while she and her husband were taking her for a walk in Windsor Great Park. The Princess Royal was fined £500 by Berkshire Magistrates' Court and ordered to give Dotty more training.
Like other senior royals, The Princess Royal holds a number of honorary appointments in the armed forces of several Commonwealth realms. In 2002, she made history when she wore a Royal Navy uniform at the funeral of her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. She was the first non-reigning woman, who was also royal, to wear military uniform at a funeral.
She is of the following regiments, corps, and branches: