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On This Day: Princess Anne's wedding watching by 500 million worldwide

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On this day in 1973, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phililips were married at Westminster Abbey. 

As the Queen’s only daughter and the first of Her Majesty’s four children to marry, the wedding was a spectacle watched by approximately 500 million people around the world. 

Although Anne and Phillips would eventually separate in 1989 and divorce in 1993, their wedding was a picture perfect affair, filled with sentimental details.

The pomp and circumstance of Anne’s wedding was a departure from the classically “low-key” royal. In addition to 8 hours of broadcast on the BBC, Anne and Philip's wedding day was declared a national holiday, with thousands gathering outside of Westminster Abbey to watch the pair arrive and depart as husband and wife. 

It was only the second time in 200 years that a commoner married into the royal family (the Queen Mother’s marriage to the future King George VI in 1923 was the first).

Princess Anne, Princess Royal and Mark Phillips (3rd from left) wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace following their wedding with Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (L), Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (4th from right), Queen Elizabeth II (3rd from right), Prince Andrew, Duke of York (2nd right) and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. (Getty)
Princess Anne, Princess Royal and Mark Phillips (3rd from left) wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace following their wedding with Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (L), Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (4th from right), Queen Elizabeth II (3rd from right), Prince Andrew, Duke of York (2nd right) and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. (Getty)
Huge crowds gathered along the Mall in London to watch the bride and groom return to Buckingham Palace - along with 500million on TV worldwide. (Getty)
Huge crowds gathered along the Mall in London to watch the bride and groom return to Buckingham Palace - along with 500million on TV worldwide. (Getty)
Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips were married on Nov. 14, 1973. (Image via Getty Images)
Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips were married on Nov. 14, 1973. (Image via Getty Images)
The bride, Princess Anne, leaves Buckingham palace for the wedding ceremony in Westminster Abbey.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
The bride, Princess Anne, leaves Buckingham palace for the wedding ceremony in Westminster Abbey. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

The 23-year-old royal wed Philips dressed in a mock neck Tudor-style gown with trumpet sleeves and a seven foot train by designer Maureen Baker, the lead designer of the brand Susan Small.

Although the look seemed simple in design, the silk and chiffon dress contained under-sleeves with pearl detailing and delicate embroidered flowers on her train.

Anne’s look was topped with the radiant Queen Mary Fringe Tiara, the same tiara worn by Queen Elizabeth for her 1947 wedding to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (the tiara would later be worn by Princess Beatrice for her 2020 wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi).

The show-stopping tiara was commissioned in 1932 by Queen Mary from diamonds from a necklace she received from Queen Victoria on her wedding day in 1919 to George V.

Prince Philip escorts his daughter Princess Anne, down the aisle of Westminster Abbey during her wedding to Captain Mark Phillips.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Prince Philip escorts his daughter Princess Anne, down the aisle of Westminster Abbey during her wedding to Captain Mark Phillips. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Princess Anne on her wedding day with her husband Mark Phillips, her younger brother Prince Edward, and cousin Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Princess Anne on her wedding day with her husband Mark Phillips, her younger brother Prince Edward, and cousin Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Anne also honoured her mother and grandmother by opting for a wedding band made from Welsh gold.

Two thousand guests were invited to Westminster Abbey to watch Anne and her father, Prince Philip, ascend down the aisle to the hymn “Glorious Things Of Thee Are Spoken.” 

Among the high profile guests in attendance were King Rainier of Monaco III and Princess Grace (the former actress Grace Kelly).

The wedding was a true family affair for Anne; the Princess chose her 9-year-old brother, Prince Edward, and Princess Margaret’s 9-year-old daughter, Lady Sarah-Armstrong Jones (now Sarah Chato) as their wedding party. 

Anne and Phillips' wedding date was significant to the princess’s elder brother, Prince Charles; the couple were wed on his 25th birthday.

Princess Anne's wedding portrait with the Royal Family. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Princess Anne's wedding portrait with the Royal Family. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips leave Westminster Abbey after their wedding in 1973.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
The Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips leave Westminster Abbey after their wedding in 1973. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

In accordance with royal tradition, Anne’s bouquet contained myrtle, grown from a spring from Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet in 1840 to represent fidelity. All royal brides, including Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex have followed this symbolic royal tradition.

Following the ceremony, guests were invited for an opulent wedding feast of lobster, partridge and peppermint ice cream. The shining star of the reception was the five tier, five foot six foot tall wedding cake —the same height as Princess Anne.

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