Who had the first royal wedding in color? It happened on this day half a century ago

  • This wedding was watched by 500 million around the world in 1973
  • Crowds lined the streets, there was a balcony appearance – and a public holiday
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Of all the many royal weddings of the past decades, there is one that stands out not because of its extravagance — though it was certainly very grand — than because of any constitutional significance.

But because the marriage of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips of the 1st Queen’s Dragoon Guards in 1973 was the first to be broadcast in the era of mass television royalty – and it was in colour!

More than 500 million people tuned in to watch the ceremony, which took place at Westminster Abbey from 14 November 50 years ago.

Anne was the first of Queen Elizabeth’s children to marry. Crowds lined the streets and the balcony then appeared.

Thus the template was set for the weddings that followed.

Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips on 14 November 1973 at Westminster Abbey
Prince Philip stood by his only daughter when he gave her gifts on her wedding day
The Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips leave Westminster Abbey after their wedding

Anne first met Captain Phillips at a horse riding event in Mexico City in 1968.

Both were skilled horse riders and competed at a high level. Phillips was a member of the gold medal event team at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Anne competed for Britain at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

They announced their engagement in May 1973.

At the official photo shoot, during which Anne showed off her ruby ​​and diamond engagement ring, she was asked if their marriage could withstand the pressures of public duty.

In response, she sarcastically said: “Is it possible?” It has to be, right?

The wedding day itself was declared a public holiday.

Princess Anne was accompanied to the ceremony at the Glass State Coach by her father, the late Duke of Edinburgh.

The princess emerged from her carriage to reveal a Tudor-style wedding dress designed by Maureen Baker, chief designer at Susan Small.

The embroidered gown features a high neckline and trumpet sleeves.

Anne, who wore her hair in an elegant chignon, held her veil in place with Queen Mary’s tiara, which was worn by her mother, Queen Elizabeth, at her 1947 wedding to Prince Philip.

Anne included myrtle in her bouquet – which symbolizes love, youth and loyalty – a tradition for royal brides since the 1850s.

A smiling Princess Anne, accompanied by her father, the Duke of Edinburgh, walks down the aisle
The happy couple waved as crowds lined the streets of London, with an estimated 27.6 million people in attendance.
The princess wore a Tudor-style wedding dress designed by Maureen Baker, chief designer at Susan Small
The Queen, The Queen Mother, The Prince of Wales and Prince Andrew arrived at the Scottish state coach
Princess Anne chose to have only one bridesmaid, her nine-year-old cousin, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, and Prince Edward, who served as servant.

This began with Queen Victoria, who carried myrtle in her own bouquet when she married Prince Albert in 1840.

After the ceremony, she planted the shrub in her garden in Osborne on the Isle of Wight.

More than a century later, Anne’s bouquet included myrtle from the same garden.

The Queen, The Queen Mother, The Prince of Wales and Prince Andrew arrived at the Scottish state coach.

Princess Anne chose to have only one bridesmaid, her nine-year-old cousin, Lady Sarah Chatto (Armstrong-Jones), daughter of Princess Margaret, while Captain Eric Grounds served as the groom’s best man.

The page boy was Anne’s younger brother, Prince Edward.

The service was traditional, and was conducted by Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anne’s wedding ring is made of Welsh gold.

After the service, the couple returned to Buckingham Palace to appear in the balcony and have a wedding lunch.

The wedding cake was over five feet tall, as tall as Princess Anne. It included five layers of brandy-soaked fruit cake topped with a statue of a horsewoman jumping a fence.

That evening, they stayed at the White Lodge in Richmond Park – which today houses the Royal Ballet School – before embarking on their honeymoon aboard the royal yacht Britannia, traveling across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Anne was the first of the late Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s four children to marry, and stepped out in a lavish ceremony and reception
Princess Anne and Mark Phillips wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony with members of the royal family standing by.
Guests were to receive an invitation card to the wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips
The couple’s wedding cake was more than five feet tall – as tall as Princess Anne – and included five layers of brandy-soaked fruit cake

The Queen is said to have offered Captain Phillips the earldom on his wedding day, in keeping with tradition. He refused.

This means that after they welcomed their two children, Peter Phillips in 1977 and daughter Zara Tindall in 1981, they will be the royal’s first grandchildren without a title.

Anne and Mark were married for 19 years before they divorced after a long separation in 1992.

She became the Princess Royal in 1987, and Anne married naval officer Commander Timothy Lawrence later that year. Because the Church of England did not allow remarriage after divorce, the ceremony was held in Scotland with only 30 guests in attendance.

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