The Queen's grandson divorces: Who is Autumn Phillips?

·Royal Correspondent
·5-min read
ASCOT, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 22: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Peter Phillips and Autumn Phillips attend day five of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 22, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Peter Phillips and Autumn Phillips at Royal Ascot. (Getty Images)

Peter Phillips, the Queen’s eldest grandchild, has confirmed he and his wife Autumn Phillips, will divorce after 12 years of marriage.

Phillips, 42, is the elder child of Princess Anne and her first husband Captain Mark Phillips. He met Autumn, 41, when they were both working on Formula One Grand Prix in Montreal.

Together, the couple have two young children who they’ve promised to “co-parent”: Isla, seven, and Savannah, nine.

LONDON,  UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 08:  Autumn Phillips, Peter Phillips and their children Savannah Phillips and Isla Phillips stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following Trooping the Colour on June 08, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
Autumn and Peter Phillips and their children Savannah (left) and Isla (right) at Trooping the Colour in 2019. (Getty Images)

Who is Autumn Phillips?

Autumn was born in Montreal in 1978 to parents Kathleen McCarthy and Brian Kelly.

She has a twin brother named Chris, who is now a bricklayer. Autumn also has an other brother, Kevin, and two half-siblings from her father’s second marriage.

WOODSTOCK, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11:  Zara Phillips is watched by Autumn Kelly, girlfriend of Peter Phillips, and boyfiend Mike Tindall as she completes the final show-jumping event with a clear round to become  European Champion at The Blenheim Petplan European Eventing Championships held at Blenheim Palace on September 11, 2005 in Woodstock, England.  (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Autumn watches Zara Phillips with Zara's now-husband Mike Tindall in 2005. (Getty Images)

Her parents divorced when she was young. Her mother is a hairdresser, and her father worked as an executive for an electricity company.

Her nickname at school was Princess Autumn, perhaps alluding to her future royal connections.

She was baptised into the Roman Catholic Church, but converted to the Church of England before she married Peter, so that he would not lose his place in line to the throne.

Guests of Queen Elizabeth II, including Peter Phillips (front left), his girlfriend Autumn Kelly (front centre) and Viscount Linley (right) arrive to embark on the Hebridean Princess at Port Ellen on Islay, for a week-long cruise around the Western Isles to celebrate the Queen's 80th birthday.   (Photo by Andrew Milligan - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Autumn was invited on a tour of the Western Isles with the royals. (Getty Images)

She holds a degree in East Asian studies from McGill University.

Autumn has held a wide range of jobs, including being a model, working for Williams F1, which is how she met Peter, and as Sir Michael Parkinson’s personal assistant.

She was once offered a job with the Canadian Intelligence Services but changed career direction and never took it.

How did she meet Peter?

According to the Daily Telegraph, Peter was smitten when he first laid eyes on Autumn in her hometown of Montreal, at the Grand Prix.

He refused to let official business distract him, and sought her out, getting her phone number and email address the first day he met her, as well as inviting her and her friends to a post-race party.

Members of Britains royal family and guests leave St George's Chapel in Windsor on May 17, 2008 after the marriage vows of Peter Phillips 30 (4th L), and Canadian Autumn Kelly 31 (5th L). The bride recently converted from Roman Catholicism to Anglicanism so that her husband, son of the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, will not have to renounce his right of royal succession. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Sang Tan (Photo credit should read SANG TAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Peter and Autumn Phillips' wedding in 2008

Somewhat conveniently, Autumn had already been planning to move to England. She had accepted a job with a computer firm who wanted her in their UK offices.

Autumn confessed to Hello! magazine that it was love at first sight for her too, saying: “When Peter smiled at me I thought Okayyyy! I’ll definitely meet you at the party.”

But, it was weeks before she realised who she was.

It wasn’t until she was watching television and spotted her new boyfriend standing next to Prince William at his 21st birthday party that she realised who she was dating.

Her mother is said to have replied: “Oh Autumn, what have you got yourself into?”

When did they get married?

The couple married in 2008 at Windsor Castle.

Peter originally planned to propose during a champagne hot air balloon ride, but the weather was bad and they had to cancel.

So instead, he proposed in heavy rain while they walked the dog.

WINDSOR - MAY 17:  Bride and groom, Autumn Kelly and Peter Phillips after their wedding ceremony at St George's Chapel, in Windsor Castle on May 17, 2008 in Windsor, England.    (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
They married in St George's Chapel in Windsor. (Getty Images)
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 17:  Wedding group of Mr Peter Phillips and Miss Autumn at Frogmore House (seated left to right front row) The Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II, Mrs Ivy Kelly, Mrs Edith McCarthy, (standing left to right) Capt. Mark Phillips, The Princess Royal, Mr Peter Philips, Mrs Peter Phillips, Mrs Kity Kelly, Mr Brian Kelly on May 17, 2008 in Windsor, England.  (Photo by pool/ Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
On their wedding day with their families at Frogmore House. (Getty Images)

She told the Telegraph: “I certainly didn’t see the question coming. I looked horrible in my wellies with wet hair. I said yes straight away though.”

Peter had also travelled to Ontario to get permission from her father before popping the question.

The couple sold their wedding photos to Hello! magazine, which divided opinion. But, as Peter was never given a title and is not a working royal, they have had to make their own money as they do not get anything from the crown estate.

After their ceremony at the chapel at Windsor Castle, the couple had a reception at Frogmore House.

Is Peter Phillips really the Queen’s favourite?

As the Queen’s first grandchild, Peter is likely to hold a special place in her heart. It’s natural she would have taken to his partner, too.

The Queen has shown some particular favour to Autumn. The couple is always invited to join the rest of the Royal Family at events like Trooping the Colour, and Ascot, with Autumn sitting next to the Queen in her carriage at Ascot.

Queen Elizabeth II with Autumn Phillips arrives at Crathie Kirk to attend a Sunday church service near Balmoral where she is currently in residence. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II with Autumn Phillips going to church near Balmoral. (Getty Images)
BRAEMAR, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 07: Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Autumn Phillips and Peter Phillips attend the 2019 Braemar Highland Games  on September 07, 2019 in Braemar, Scotland. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Autumn and Peter at the Braemar Games with the Queen and Prince Charles. (Getty Images)

And while she was simply Autumn Kelly, she was invited to be part of the Queen’s nine-week tour in the Scottish Western Isles.

She was also at an intimate party at The Ritz for the Queen’s 80th birthday.

Autumn is also widely regarded as down-to-earth, a quality the Queen admires and the ease with which she stepped into the family and took it all in her stride is sure to have impressed Her Majesty.

ASCOT, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 23: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Queen Elizabeth II and Autumn Phillips attend day 5 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 23, 2018 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth and Autumn Phillips at Royal Ascot. (Getty Images)

Will she move back to Canada?

Rumours are swirling that Autumn is seeking divorce so she can head back to her native Canada.

With the couple’s daughters having dual citizenship, there’s word it could be an easy move for them to make.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 17:  (L-R) Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge, Peter Phillips, Savannah Phillips, Isla Phillips and Autumn Phillips look out from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 17, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Savannah and Isla are close with their royal cousins. (Getty Images)

But, their statement made it clear they won’t be heading in the same direction as Harry and Meghan anytime soon.

They said: “Both Peter and Autumn have remained in Gloucestershire to bring up their two children where they have been settled for a number of years.”

The couple didn’t quite stretch to talk of conscious uncoupling, but the use of the phrase “co-parent” is not one often associated with the royals.

Autumn and Peter are often seen at country events with Peter’s sister Zara, and Savannah and Isla are close with their cousins.

Savannah and Prince George are often seen giggling and whispering together, so the family are sure to want to stay close by for their children.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 28: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Autumn Phillips and Peter Phillips take a selfie as they attend the Sentebale Concert at Kensington Palace on June 28, 2016 in London, England. Sentebale was founded by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho over ten years ago. It helps the vulnerable and HIV positive children of Lesotho and Botswana. (Photo by Max Mumby/Pool/Indigo/Getty Images)
Autumn and Peter Phillips take a seflie at Prince Harry's concert for Sentebale. (Getty Images)

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