Princess Anne, the divorced only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, was married in a simple Scottish ceremony Saturday to Cmdr. Timothy J.H. Laurence, a British naval officer.
The wedding--which brought some needed cheer to a Royal Family that has gone through what the queen has called a “horrible year"--was a small, private affair, with the world’s media kept at a long arm’s length.
Only about 30 guests attended the service at tiny Crathie Church near the royal Balmoral Castle in northeastern Scotland on an overcast, bitterly cold day with a hint of snow in the air. It was in marked contrast to her first marriage--to Capt. Mark Phillips--in a glittering state wedding in Westminster Abbey in 1973.
The guests included the queen; her husband, Prince Philip; the 92-year-old Queen Mother Elizabeth, who at first planned not to come because of the divorce, and Princess Anne’s three brothers: Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
Among the prominent members of the Royal Family who did not attend were Diana, the Princess of Wales, whose formal separation from Charles was announced a few days earlier, and the Duchess of York, who is separated from her husband, Andrew, also a naval officer.
Diana sent her best wishes to Anne, 42, and aides indicated she did not attend because of the media circus surrounding the half-hour event.
Scores of photographers and reporters, barred from the church, lined the road from Balmoral Castle to the chapel, whose venue was used because--unlike the Church of England--the Church of Scotland allows marriages of divorced people whose spouses are still alive. The Scottish ceremony does not contain the word obey in it.
Princess Anne was only the second senior British royal to marry after divorce; her predecessor was King Henry VIII four centuries ago.
Laurence, 37, is a career officer who won a decoration while commanding a patrol boat off Northern Ireland and more recently commanded a frigate, the Boxer. He currently holds a desk job at the Defense Ministry in London and was on the fast track for promotion to captain, although as the husband of a senior royal it was not clear that he would remain in the service.
Laurence first came to Anne’s attention when he was assigned as equerry, or aide, to the queen. He reportedly got along well with the queen and other Royal Family members, being witty and pleasant.
There was said to have been some concern by senior members of the stuffy palace household because Laurence was regarded by them as hired help and thus not suitable for a royal marriage.
At the ceremonies, Princess Anne, smiling faintly, wore a cream dress and carried a bouquet of flowers.
The queen was in green, Prince Charles in a kilt and Laurence in his navy-blue uniform.