Over the last several decades, Princess Anne has become known as one of the hardest working royals in "the firm," but observant fans know that the Queen's only daughter often has company when she's carrying out her royal duties, in the form of her second husband, Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence. While he's been a prominent member of the royal family for more than 30 years, Laurence may not be as well-known as some of the other royals.
Here's the scoop on the Princess Royal's husband:
He's from London.
Born on March 1, 1955, Timothy is the youngest of naval officer Commander Guy Stewart Laurence and Barbara Alison Laurence's two sons; he has an older brother, Jonathan. As a young man, he attended Durham University on a naval scholarship, where he received a Bachelor of Science in geography.
He was in the Royal Navy and even served on the royal family's yacht.
He joined the Royal navy in 1973 as a midshipman, and in 1977 he was promoted to Lieutenant. He briefly served as Navigating Officer aboard the royal family's much-loved yacht, the Royal Yacht HMY Britannia, as seen in The Crown's fifth season. It's been suggested that the Britannia could be the first place where Laurence and Princess Anne first met, though reports have varied. (Anne had a famously seasick honeymoon with Captain Mark Phillips aboard Britannia in 1973, though Laurence was not posted to the ship at that time.)
Laurence served on and commanded numerous ships over the course of his career (he was promoted to Captain in 1995) including the HMS Cumberland and the HMS Montrose. Throughout the '90s he also worked for the UK Ministry of Defence, as a military assistant to the Secretary of State for Defence, and at the Strategic Defence Review.
In 2004 he was promoted to Rear Admiral, and in 2007 to Vice-Admiral. He officially retired from the Royal Navy in August 2011.
Stolen letters from him to Princess Anne caused a stir in 1989.
Among his numerous professional posts, in 1986, Laurence was appointed as an equerry—essentially, a royal assistant—to Queen Elizabeth. It appears to have been during this time that he and Princess Anne became closer. In 1989, a series of personal letters between the two were anonymously delivered to The Sun, who in turn sent them to Scotland Yard.
Though the letters themselves were never published—Buckingham Palace acknowledged the letters in a statement at the time, noting that they had been stolen and that they were written by Laurence, but did not comment on their contents—rumors soon ran rife that Anne's marriage to Mark Phillips was in trouble.
He married Anne in 1992.
The same year that Princess Anne's divorce from Mark Phillips was finalized, she and Laurence married in a small ceremony at a church near Balmoral on December 12, 1992—ironically, just days after Prince Charles and Princess Diana announced their legal separation. It was Laurence's first marriage.
The couple wed in a Presbyterian service rather than in the Church of England, which did not allow marriage rites for people who were divorced. Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, and Prince Edward, were all in attendance, along with Anne's two children from her marriage to Phillips, Peter and Zara.
He holds a special place in the royal family.
Laurence didn't receive peerage through his marriage to Princess Anne, but Queen Elizabeth later made him a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 2011.
Over the years, he's become a fixture by Anne's side at royal events, and was even permitted a special privilege on the Buckingham Palace balcony for Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee. In 2022, the Palace announced in advance of the monarch's annual birthday celebration, Trooping the Colour, that only working royals would appear on the balcony, with just a few exceptions. "The Cambridge and Wessex children are also expected to appear as is Sir Tim Laurence, who the Queen is happy to attend as a frequent attendee and support for the Princess Royal on official engagements," the statement read, making Laurence the only person on the balcony for Trooping the Colour who wasn't born into the royal family or a working royal.
After the Queen's death in September 2022, Laurence remained by Anne's side, traveling with her as they accompanied the Queen's coffin from Scotland to London. He has since often remained with his wife as the royal family have resumed public duties, and sat next to her at King Charles's coronation.