Romance, followed by heartache for royals

1973: Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips
1973: Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips
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History was made on November 14, 1973, when the first of the Queen’s four children married at Westminster Abbey.

The nation came to a halt with millions watching on television as Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips received a tumultuous reception from tens of thousands of spectators lining the streets in the capital.

1986: Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson

1986: Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson

That day’s final edition of The News was dominated by the ceremony with the reporter in the abbey describing the occasion as the culmination of a ‘fairytale romance which had caught the imagination of a nation’.

He added that the millions watching ‘saw the princess, elegant and beautiful in a high-necked dress woven in pure white silk, marry the dashing Army captain who had won her heart – all in the pomp and pageantry of the abbey which has been the scene of so much of Britain’s history’.

The princess, who had described herself as ‘just an old-fashioned girl’ promised to obey.

The third of the Queen’s children to marry was Prince Andrew. His romance with Sarah Ferguson had also intrigued the nation and with his Royal Navy background and Portsmouth links, the city felt as though one of its own was getting married.

The couple married on July 23, 1986, again in Westminster Abbey.

It was almost four years to the day since the prince, who became the Duke of York on his wedding day, returned to Portsmouth in HMS Invincible after flying helicopters in the Falklands war.

His wife came from Dummer in north Hampshire and had described herself as a ‘country girl’.

The News reporter in the abbey that day filed a report which said: ‘The intense silence in the abbey was only broken by the sound of cheering from outside as the crowds heard the couple’s promises over the public address system.

Of course, neither marriage would last. The Princess Royal’s wedding ended in divorce in 1992 and the Duke of York’s went the same way four years later.