Peter Phillips headshot

On November 15, 1977, The New York Times announced the birth of the first child of Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, now The Princess Royal. The birth of Master Peter Mark Phillips was a momentous occasion not only for the proud parents, Princess Anne and her then-husband, Captain Mark Phillips but also for the people of the United Kingdom, not to mention royal-family watchers everywhere because his particular birth represented several significant firsts for the royal family.

In addition to being Princess Anne’s first child and the first of many royal babies born at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital (via Town & Country). Peter Phillips is also the first-born grandchild of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Because Phillips was born when the British royal family still adhered to male primogeniture in determining the order of succession to the crown, at the time of his birth, Phillips stood to retain his relatively high place in said order (5th in line to the throne) until one of the male heirs to the crown produced a male heir, per Legislation.gov.uk. Nevertheless, Phillips was also the first grandchild of a monarch — possibly in the history of the British monarchy, to be born without a peerage (peerage is a legal construct that divides the world into those with noble titles and those without), according to The New York Times. Let’s unpack the truth about Princess Anne’s son, Peter Phillips, shall we?

How Peter Phillips went from 5th in line to the throne to … 18th

Royals William, Harry and Peter

At birth, Peter Phillips was fifth in line to the British throne, right after his mother, Princess Anne, who came after her three male siblings. These were HRH Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, and HRH Prince Edward, in that order — despite that Anne was the second oldest. At the time, the order of succession to the British throne was determined by male primogeniture, whereby any generation’s males were entitled to the throne before its females, via Woman & Home. Although the Succession to the Crown Act abolished male primogeniture in 2011, the Act only applied prospectively to future-born babies, including Peter Phillips’ first cousin-once-removed, Princess Charlotte, who retained her place even after her younger brother, Prince Louis, was born.

Not that any of this would have made a difference in terms of Phillip’s place in the order, which was usurped the moment then-HRH Princess Diana gave birth to HRH Prince William in 1982. And besides, Peter’s parents never seemed to want all of that for him, as we’ll also get into below. The birth of Prince Harry in 1984 bumped Peter Phillips further, as did, one-by-one, all of the children and grandchildren of Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward that have been born thus far. Today, Peter Phillips stands at 18th in the order of succession, but his place stands to be further usurped by any future-born great-grandchildren of the queen via Princess Anne’s siblings’ grandchildren.

Baby Peter Phillips with mother
Peter Phillips and Queen Elizabeth II