Princess Anne, the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, is separating from her husband, Mark Phillips, after 15 years of marriage, but they do not plan to divorce, Buckingham Palace announced today.
The queen, on holiday at Balmoral, Scotland, was described by royal sources to be "obviously saddened" but to understand the couple's decision, which was taken in principle earlier this year, according to Press Assn., Britain's domestic news agency.
"Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal, and Capt. Mark Phillips have decided to separate on terms agreed between them," the announcement said. "There are no plans for divorce proceedings."
The terms of the separation were not disclosed, but Anne, 39, will continue to live at the couple's home, Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire, 80 miles west of London. Phillips, 40, will move to another house nearby, the palace said.
The couple's children, Peter, 11, and Zara, 8, will live with their mother at Gatcombe, and Phillips will have full access to them, the palace said.
Newspaper reports said Phillips was receiving a financial settlement from the queen that would make him wealthy. The palace said it was unable to comment on a cash settlement.
Princess Anne, in Puerto Rico for a meeting of the International Olympic Committee, brushed past reporters this morning without answering questions.
Palace informants said the couple had already decided to part before an incident last April when affectionate letters written to Anne by royal aide Timothy Laurence, 35, were stolen and sent to the Sun newspaper. Details of the letters were not disclosed, but the disclosure of the princess' close relations with the handsome Royal Navy commander, an aide to her mother, provoked a rash of speculation about how long her marriage could last.
Philips has been linked with various women, most recently a 45-year-old public relations consultant in Canada with whom he was reported to have been seen at candle-lit dinners.