Josna Rege

5. Idolizing Princess Anne

In 1970s, Britain, Stories on March 1, 2010 at 11:57 pm

HRH Princess Anne, 1973 —

Before Princess Di there was Princess Anne, Charles’ younger sister.  And in 1973, long before Prince Charles and Lady Di’s wedding in 1981, there was the wedding of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Philips. Anne was a decent type, albeit quintessentially horsey (she even rode for the British Olympic team). Her wedding to the gallant captain whipped up a decent amount of excitement among the British people, or at least, among a certain segment of them.

A representative of that segment lived in our house in Tufnell Park. I can’t remember his name or I would tell it to you, but he was a postgraduate student friend of our housemate-landlord Nick, and a nerd before the word had entered the vocabulary.  He guarded his private stock of bacon jealously in the common fridge, passed mildly sardonic comments on the savage tribal customs of the string of young hippie types who either hung out or lived there (this in reference to nail-painting and ear-piercing), and he was in love with Princess Anne. He hung a nearly lifesize poster of her on the inside of the lavatory door as wedding fever mounted, and adored it with utter absence of irony. As she was quintessentially horsey he was quintessentially English in a vague, dishevelled, tolerantly narrow-minded kind of way. He wouldn’t have hurt a fly, but I don’t think he ever thought of us as anything but curiosities passing through.

Nevertheless, his observation about savage tribal customs stuck with me, and I have often found myself repeating it as my own when people ask me why my ears aren’t pierced.


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Chronological Table of Contents

  1. I love this. Wonder how living with you all affected (effected?) him; whether HE got HIS ears pierced…

  2. Nikhil–it never occurred to me to wonder how he’d been changed!

  3. Hi Jo Jo, it’s me, trying to catch up with your blog. I remember Princess Annes wedding because the woman I’d got headhunted by out of St Martins School of Art- Zandra Rhodes- did her engagement dress. A story for my own blog one day, not that I have the time! It’s weird to think how often you have been in London, when I have not known. Hope you are well, love xxx

    • Dear Barbara! Thank you for posting. I’d love to hear more stories of your time with Zandra Rhodes.
      Sadly, I haven’t been in London often enough over the years, and rare has been the time when I haven’t connected with you. We did get together in the year I was writing about in this story, 1973-4, when I was an “occasional student” (apt term!) at UCL. In the autumn we lived in that Tufnell Park house, and in the winter-spring I moved into that flat on Albert Street in Camden Town, where I had a big party, and I know both you and your parents came—I have the photos to prove it! Love, Jo

  4. This sent me scrambling to google Princess Anne, as I knew next to nothing about her. Funny to think about how random flatmates have affected us, and we them.

    • Yes, she’s been out of the limelight much of the time since her big wedding, but has had her own struggles over the years. Apparently, according to a friend whose young cousin manages her event horses, she’s a very good employer and a pleasant person.

      And yes, I think of housemates who were so intimately a part of my life for a short time but whom I have since lost touch with. Yet in all sorts of ways, big and small, we have influenced each other. Material for future stories…

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