The Queen’s first grandchild – and the first royal baby to be born a ‘commoner’ for more than 500 years – entered the world at 10-46 am on November 15th, 1977.
So today we wish a happy 40th birthday to Peter Mark Andrew Phillips, the first child born to Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, and currently 13th in line to the British throne.
He was born four years and one day after his parents were married at Westminster Abbey. His mother, Princess Anne, had no hereditary title despite being the Queen’s daughter, so her son was born a ‘commoner’ as plain Master Phillips, even though at the time of his birth he was fifth in line to the throne.
Capt. Phillips, a serving officer in the Royal Navy, was with his wife for the birth at St Mary’s Hospital, in Paddington, overseen by the royal gynaecologist George Pinker. Church bells were rung in Great Somerford, Wiltshire, where Capt. Phillips’ parent lived. The baby boy’s weight was given as 7lb 9oz but it was a few days before his Christian names were announced, and he was later baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in Buckingham Palace, on December 22nd.
Official announcements of the birth were posted on the railings of Buckingham Palace and outside the Home Office, in Whitehall, and a 41-gun salute was fired at the Tower of London. The Queen was among the first to visit her daughter and first grandchild in a private wing of the hospital. It was reported that both Princess Anne and Captain Phillips had declined an offer from the Queen of hereditary titles which would enable their children to be born into the peerage.
When reporters who had gathered outside the hospital managed to grab a quick word from Capt. Phillips, he said he was “relieved it’s all over and very pleased”. When asked what his new son was like, he replied cheerfully: “About the same as any other baby I should think.”
It was three-and-a-half years before the couple’s second child, Zara Anne Elizabeth, arrived in May 1981, and both were still young when their parents separated in 1989 and divorced in April 1992. They remain the Queen’s only untitled grandchildren.
As a boy, Peter Phillips attended a prep school in Dorset before following his uncle, Prince Charles, and other members of the Royal Family by attending Gordonstoun School, in Moray, Scotland. While there he was chosen as head boy and also played for the school’s rugby union XV, switching codes to rugby league when he later played for the Exeter University side, graduating with a degree in sports science.
Since then he has forged a successful business career in sports corporate hospitality and sponsorship, having worked variously for Jaguar, the Williams F1 team and the Royal Bank of Scotland. He is now the managing director of a London-based sports and entertainment agency specialising in delivering large scale events. In the run-up to the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, in June 2016, he oversaw the planning of the “Patron’s Lunch”, which involved a parade down The Mall and a hamper picnic lunch for 10,000 specially invited guests.
In May 2008 Peter Phillips married Autumn Kelly, a Canadian management consultant who he met five years previously at the Canadian Grand Prix, while working for the Williams F1 team. The couple have two daughters, Savannah and Isla, the former becoming the Queen’s first great-grandchild when she was born on December 29th, 2010.