Princess Anne Hospitalized for Head Injury: Horses Suspected

Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

Princess Anne is in a hospital after suffering minor injuries and a concussion “following an incident” at her Gatcombe Park estate over the weekend, Buckingham Palace announced Monday.

The 73-year-old is being kept in the hospital “as a precautionary measure for observation and is expected to make a full and swift recovery” following the incident on Sunday evening, the palace said in a statement. King Charles III has been kept “closely informed” and “joins the whole Royal Family in sending his fondest love and well-wishes to the princess for a speedy recovery,” the statement added.

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The Princess Royal, Charles’ only sister, is believed to have suffered head injuries consistent with an impact from a horse’s legs or head, according to a royal source. She was walking in the grounds of her estate in southwest England at the time and horses were nearby when Anne was hurt, the source added.

She was treated by emergency services at the scene before being taken to the Southmead Hospital in the city of Bristol for further medical attention, the source said.

“Her Royal Highness is recovering well, is in a comfortable condition and is being kept in hospital as a precautionary measure for further observation,” Buckingham Palace said. The palace did not disclose what kind of treatment the princess is receiving, describing it simply as “appropriate expert care.”

The palace also confirmed that Anne’s husband, Sir Tim Laurence, accompanied her to the hospital. Sir Tim was on the estate at the time of the incident, as were her children Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, the royal source said. The king and Queen Camilla—along with Prince William and Anne’s siblings, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward—were notified about the incident on Sunday night.

It’s not clear how long Anne will remain hospitalized. The palace said she wouldn’t be moved from the Bristol hospital “unless or until her medical team advise otherwise,” and her scheduled engagements for the rest of the week have been postponed on doctors’ advice.

That means she won’t be flying to Canada at the end of this week for a planned visit to the country, the royal source said. The palace separately confirmed that a British state banquet for Emperor Naruhito of Japan will go ahead as scheduled on Tuesday, but Anne will no longer be able to attend.

Princess Anne is known to be one of the British royal families most enthusiastic horse riders. A regular fixture on her local horse riding scene in the Cotswolds, her daughter Zara has also taken up the family tradition and has competed in the Olympics.

Fellow equestrians in Princess Anne’s Cotswold riding set were sanguine on Monday after the woman regarded by many as a local figurehead was hospitalized.

One told The Daily Beast, “The thing is, as everybody who is involved with horses and ponies knows, there is a risk when dealing with them. These things do happen and thank god it seems she is not badly injured.

“It might seem crazy to outsiders that nobody was with her and that she could just be kicked in the head by a horse. But that is the way that country life is. Anne would not be the kind of person who would go out and check her horses with a police escort.”

Her hospitalization comes amid a string of health crises which have hit senior members of the Royal Family this year. In February, Buckingham Palace confirmed Charles had been diagnosed with cancer and would postpone public duties. The following month, Kate Middleton revealed that she too is being treated for cancer. The Princess of Wales said in a recent update is making “good progress” with her chemotherapy treatment.

Princess Anne’s passion for horses springs from the royal family’s equestrian legacy. Her mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was such a passionate horse enthusiast that friends often said she would have pursued a career in equestrianism had she been born into different circumstances.

It was under Elizabeth’s guidance and influence that Anne’s equestrian interests flourished with Anne demonstrating a keen interest in riding from a young age: At 21, she won the European Eventing Championship, a discipline that combines dressage, cross-country, and show jumping.

In 1976 she competed in the Montreal Olympic Games, making her the first member of the British royal family to compete in the Olympics. Princess Anne’s commitment to the sport extends to her long-standing presidency of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), an organization that provides opportunities for disabled individuals to ride.

Her daughter, Zara Tindall, has followed in her footsteps, becoming an accomplished equestrian in her own right. Zara won a silver medal in team eventing at the 2012 London Olympics.

Another of Anne’s neighbors said, “She is very much part of the local horsey community. I remember once pulling up at a gymkhana [a children’s riding competition] and thinking to myself, ‘I am sure I recognize that person doing the parking,“ and when I got closer I realized it was Princess Anne. She is a very down-to-earth person and I am sure she will be determined to carry on as before as soon as she is better.”

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