PRINCESS ANNE had love letters stolen from Buckingham Palace that exposed a scandalous affair back in 1989.
At the time, the Princess Royal was married to Captain Mark Phillips, with whom she had two children, but it was an unhappy marriage. She had struck up a relationship with the Queen’s equerry Timothy Laurence and would sometimes stay in his Winchester home. However, in April 1989, love letters from Timothy were taken from her personal briefcase and sent to The Sun.
The newspaper handed over the letters to Scotland Yard who launched an investigation into the crime.
Unfortunately, after a four-month investigation that involved interviewing almost everyone in the Palace and taking around 500 people’s fingerprints, the police could not say conclusively who stole the letters.
Detective Chief Superintendent Roy Ramm told the 2002 Channel 4 documentary ‘The Real Princess Anne’ that the inquiry was “unusual”.
He said: “You’re dealing with a theft in a royal palace and the victim happens to be a princess.
Princess Anne had love letters stolen inside Buckingham Palace (Image: GETTY)
The letters were taken by somebody in Buckingham Palace (Image: GETTY)
“You then find that what’s been stolen are letters from her lover.
“You then have to deal with that by interviewing loads of people in palaces in the full glare of the world’s media and this very soon became the most talked about story.”
He added: “Frankly, we came up against a dead end and we went to the princess and said: ‘Look we’re very sorry, we cannot tell you definitively who stole your letters‘.”
Meanwhile, the Palace shocked everyone by actually admitting that the letters were from Commander Laurence.
Anne was unhappily married to Mark Phillips (Image: GETTY)
A statement read: “The stolen letters were addressed to the Princess Royal by Commander Timothy Laurence, the Queen’s Equerry.
“We have nothing to say about the contents of personal letters sent to Her Royal Highness by a friend which were stolen and which are the subject of a police investigation.”
The letters had exposed Anne’s affair and shown her marriage up as the sham it was.
She and Mark promptly separated and then divorced in 1992.
Anne and her new husband Timothy Laurence in 1993 (Image: GETTY)
Her “dangerous liaison” with Timothy, as People magazine put it, could now be made open.
Anne attended the 1992 Caledonian Ball with her new man and shocked royal photographer Jayne Fincher by how openly she was dancing with him.
Ms Fincher recalled in the documentary: “It was the first time I’d seen her look truly happy for years and years and years.”
Ms Fincher had the photographs splashed on the front page of a national newspaper and thus, Anne’s new relationship had been announced.
In December that year she married Timothy in a small ceremony in Scotland with just friends and family present.
Royal reporter at The Sun, Harry Arnold, told the documentary that the media explosion after the stolen letters were discovered must have been a “terrible shock” for Timothy.
He said: “Until that story was printed, nobody had ever heard of Timothy Laurence.
“He was this guy, a bachelor, living a lonely life in the West Country in a small flat, suddenly hurled into the limelight and the whole panoply of the Royal Family.”
Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence in 2015 (Image: GETTY)
Meanwhile, Daily Express royal reporter Ashley Walton expressed disbelief that the press had not found out sooner.
He claimed that the “extraordinary thing” was that Timothy’s neighbours in Winchester had known all along that Anne was visiting him on a regular basis.
He said: “No one thought to ring the paper and tell us!”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK