Princess Anne: The Olympic equestrian who inspired a TikTok trend

Princess Anne

Princess Anne, known officially as the Princess Royal, was front and centre in the funeral procession for Queen Elizabeth II.

She joined her brothers – King Charles III, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – as the late monarch’s coffin was led past thousands of mourners in London yesterday.

Princess Anne had a visible role in all of her mother’s funeral events, becoming the first female royal to take part in the Vigil of the Princes last week.

The 72-year-old was praised widely by the public for her courage and fortitude during a difficult time.

Princess Anne is not just known for being a member of the royal family, however. She also had a successful career in eventing, even competing at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games.

Princess Anne’s groundbreaking equestrian career

The Princess Royal began taking professional riding lessons at Holyport’s Smith Stables as a child, before debuting in public competition aged 11.

But Princess Anne’s equestrian expertise wasn’t widely acknowledged until she was 21, when she placed fourth at the Rushall Horse Trials.

She then won the individual title at the 1971 European Eventing Championships in Burghley, and was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year later that year.

Princess Anne clinched a silver medal in the individual and team disciplines at the 1975 European Eventing Championships, earning the chance to represent Britain at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games.

Princess Anne
Princess Anne competes in the Badminton Horse Trials, UK, 26th April 1971. (Photo by Harry Dempster/Daily Express/Getty Images)

Princess Anne at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games

Competing in the eventing discipline, Princess Anne used the Queen’s horse, Goodwill. She was the first British Royal to compete at the Olympic Games, but her debut did not go to plan.

Goodwill failed to make one of the jumps on the course, causing Princess Anne to fall. She quickly remounted her horse, but completed the rest of the competition with concussion.

The Princess Royal later admitted in an interview that she could not remember the remainder of the course.

Princess Anne at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games
HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal aboard Goodwill during the Mixed Three-Day Event Team Cross-Country at the XXI Olympic Summer Games on 24 July 1976 at the Olympic Equestrian Centre, Bromont, Québec, Canada. (Photo by Getty Images)

“It was going very well and then I don’t remember anything else,” she said. “Nothing at all.”

Princess Anne continued to compete in equestrian, placing sixth at the Badminton Horse Trials in 1979.

She was later International Equestrian Federation President from 1987 to 1993, becoming a member of the International Olympic Committee in 1988, and is the Honorary President of the British Olympic Association.

Princess Anne’s daughter, Zara Phillips, also became an eventer, winning an Olympic silver medal in the team competition at London 2012.

Equestrian star Zara Phillips
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 31: Zara Phillips of Great Britain riding High Kingdom after competing in the Individual Jumping Equestrian Final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Greenwich Park on July 31, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Inspiring a TikTok trend

Princess Anne’s intriguing past has been discovered by TikTok users, and the social media platform is now inundated with videos of the British icon.

Many clips include photos of Princess Anne as an Olympic athlete, or competing in an equestrian event.

Others focus on an incident in 1974 when she refused to be kidnapped, or a meeting with former US President Donald Trump in 2019.

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