The birth of Peter Phillips marked a milestone in the Royal Family as he became the first royal baby born a commoner in more than 500 years.
He is currently 17th in line for the throne, but holds no title and is not expected to play a major part in the Coronation of King Charles on Saturday, May 6.
Born a few years before Prince Harry and Prince William as Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest grandson, Mr Phillips and his sister Zara Phillips would become the centre of a debate on royal titles and how they are passed down.
What became of Mr Phillips and how different could his life have been with a title?
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A centuries-old tradition
The 45-year-old was born on November 15, 1977, in London as the first child of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips. His sister, 41, was born a few years later on May 15, 1981.
Titles are passed down through customs adopted by the Royal Family over hundreds of years. According to tradition, only fathers may pass down their titles when a child is born.
Princess Anne’s ex-husband Captain Phillips is a ‘commoner’, so his children were never expected to hold titles.
A royal title could have meant a very different life for Mr Phillips, who would be expected to play a more hands-on role in the Firm and take part in official engagements on behalf of the monarch.
But others have pointed out that a life without a title has benefits too. Speaking about the situation, former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter told The Sun: “It was a masterstroke of the Princess Royal when she decided not to give her children titles.”
Despite not having a title, Mr Phillips has always been involved with the Royal Family, and was known to have spent a lot of time with Prince William and Prince Harry during childhood.
He also followed the same path as the late Duke of Edinburgh and King Charles III by attending Scottish boarding school Gordonstoun where he became head boy.
When Queen Elizabeth II died, Mr Phillips made sure to pay his respects during her funeral alongside senior members of the Royal Family behind the gun carriage.
Life (almost) outside the Firm
Away from royal life, Mr Phillips has enjoyed a successful career in business, working for companies such as Jaguar Racing, Williams F1 racing teams, and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Prior to that, he studied at the University of Exeter where he played for the University’s rugby league side.
He met his ex-wife Autumn Kelly at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 2003. They were engaged in 2007 and in May 2008 were married at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Their first child, Savannah Anne Kathleen, was born on December 29, 2010 and was the late Queen Elizabeth II’s first great-grandchild.
The pair went on to have a second daughter, Isla Elizabeth, who was born in March 2012 in Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. The marriage was not to last and in June 2021 their divorce was settled.
Peter has since announced his relationship with new girlfriend Lindsay Wallace, a mother-of-two who is the daughter of an oil tycoon and is reportedly close friends with the family.
In fact, she even went to school with Zara Tindall, Mr Phillip’s younger sister, at the £40,000-a-year school Gordonstoun in Scotland.
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Future in the Royal Family
Like his sister Zara Tindall, Mr Phillips has made a successful career for himself away from the duty of royal engagements, but had circumstances changed he could have lived a completely different life.
The pressure of being a member of the Royal Family has once again been in the public eye in recent years, particularly after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step back as senior members of the Firm.
The tensions between the Sussexes and the Firm look set to play out on the day of King Charles’s Coronation, leading to more questions about royal titles and how fair it is on those who inherit them.
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