RICHARD KAY: As Peter Phillips splits from the girlfriend the royals expected to become his second wife… The Queen’s favourite grandson… but also the unluckiest in love

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Written By Maya Cantina

Some will see it as another example of a mid-life relationship that has sadly run its course. Others will doubtless caustically note it offers further proof that far from guaranteeing domestic happiness, membership of the Royal Family is positively an impediment.

For Peter Phillips, however, yesterday’s news that he has split from his long-term girlfriend Lindsay Wallace – after the agony of his broken first marriage – there is the additional burden of knowing that of all Queen Elizabeth’s grandchildren, he has been the unluckiest in love.

Over the past three years the blonde oil company executive’s daughter has been the constant companion of Princess Anne’s son at a host of high-profile events. She was at his side for last May’s Coronation concert at Windsor and at the Buckingham Palace party to mark the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. She was also his plus one in the royal box at Wimbledon and on his arm at the Epsom Derby and at Ascot racecourse.

Peter Phillips has split with his girlfriend Lindsay Wallace, an oil company executive’s daughter who has been his constant companion at a host of high-profile events

Lindsay is a Gordonstoun schoolfriend of Peter's sister Zara Tindall

Lindsay is a Gordonstoun schoolfriend of Peter’s sister Zara Tindall

The news that she had been introduced to his grandmother during a shooting party at Windsor and had accompanied him to the christening of his sister Zara Tindall’s son, Lucas, at the royals’ private chapel in Windsor Great Park, suggested she was not just a permanent fixture in his life but well on the way to becoming the second Mrs Phillips.

After the breakdown of Phillips’s 12-year marriage to Canadian Autumn Kelly in 2020, and their divorce in 2021, the 46-year-old seemed to be on far firmer ground with the attractive Ms Wallace, 43, who like him is a parent of two children. And thanks to her discretion – she has never spoken publicly about their relationship – she had all the attributes of a potential royal bride.

It undoubtedly helped that the two had been friends for years before their affection flourished. She was a schoolfriend of Zara’s at £45,000-a-year Gordonstoun, the Scottish school where Peter – four years their senior – had been head boy, or ‘guardian’ as they call it.

Inside royal circles the split has come as a surprise and has saddened family members. Even Ms Wallace had not adjusted her Facebook profile yesterday which, poignantly, showed a picture of Phillips with a proprietorial arm around his now ex-girlfriend’s slim waist.

So what is going on? According to Hello! magazine – with which Phillips has maintained a cordial relationship since selling access to his 2008 wedding for a reported £500,000 – the couple were said to have made the decision to part a few months ago. It quoted a friend saying: ‘Peter and Lindsay made the difficult decision to separate as they were spending less time together with work and family commitments.’

Citing his work with Formula 1 – he is head of partner acquisition for a sports and entertainment rights agency – the friend added of the split: ‘It obviously came as a shock as most people thought they were absolutely rock solid. It’s very sad. Peter has been travelling all over the world and has been incredibly busy, and Lindsay is based up in Scotland, so it’s been hard for them to see each other.’

Other insiders said the two remained friends and that no other party was involved – some consolation at least as the royals adjust to another tale of domestic woe.

For Phillips it is a further blow to his once impregnable position as the royals’ secret weapon. Handsome, polite, confident and dependable – all qualities which over the years served him well – he basked in the knowledge that he was the late Queen’s first and favourite grandson. Since her passing he has enjoyed a similarly close kinship with his uncle, King Charles.

Whenever there was a family crisis, invariably it was Phillips, 18th in line to the throne, who answered the call to sort it out. At the time of Princess Diana’s death in 1997 the then 19-year-old took it upon himself to spend time with his grieving cousins William and Harry, hiking with them over the Balmoral estate.

Both princes looked up to him, and when much later the brothers spectacularly fell out it was the burly Peter who, in 2021, physically imposed himself between them as they walked behind Prince Philip’s coffin.

Peter with Autumn Kelly on their wedding day at Windsor Castle in 2008. There was considerable sympathy when it was announced in 2020 they had separated, Richard Kay writes

Peter with Autumn Kelly on their wedding day at Windsor Castle in 2008. There was considerable sympathy when it was announced in 2020 they had separated, Richard Kay writes

Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall chat with their grandmother Queen Elizabeth at Ascot in 2007

Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall chat with their grandmother Queen Elizabeth at Ascot in 2007

He enjoyed a particularly close relationship with his grandfather, who privately dubbed him ‘the winner’ because of his independence. Easy-going and rarely flustered, he wore his royalty lightly.

But there are those now wondering if that proximity has, after all, been more of a burden than a blessing.

Flitting in the shadows of royal life – thanks largely to his mother’s decision not to accept titles for either of her children – he escaped the spotlight which might have shone on him as Queen Elizabeth’s grandson.

Privately, however, he enjoyed every advantage of his birthright without the inconvenience of actually having to work for the Royal Family.

There was considerable sympathy when it was announced in 2020 that he and Autumn had separated. At the time it was overshadowed by the fast-moving saga of Harry and Meghan’s shock exit from royal life.

In a statement that chimed with modernity, the couple said their priority was the welfare of their daughters Savannah, now 13, and Isla, now 12.

Not long after that announcement, in March 2021 Phillips found himself at the centre of media attention when it was revealed he had spent the night at the house of a family friend in Aberdeenshire. The friend turned out to be Lindsay Wallace, and his visit prompted an investigation by police over a potential breach of Covid lockdown rules. Disgruntled neighbours spotted Phillips’s black Range Rover parked on the driveway of Ms Wallace’s £475,000 home and summoned police, believing that the Princess Royal’s son had broken Scotland’s strict pandemic regulations.

Queen Elizabeth points to a flypast on her official birthday in June 1980 to a thrilled Peter Phillips (centre) with his mother Princess Anne

Queen Elizabeth points to a flypast on her official birthday in June 1980 to a thrilled Peter Phillips (centre) with his mother Princess Anne

Peter and Zara with their grandmother aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1988

Peter and Zara with their grandmother aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1988

It was claimed that Phillips made the 920-mile round trip from his home on his mother’s Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire for business reasons, and stayed at Ms Wallace’s house only because he had been unable to find a hotel.

Peter was cleared of any wrong-doing, with police satisfied that no Covid laws had been broken.

Reports were soon circulating, however, that they were more than just old friends. Ms Wallace had been a guest at Zara’s wedding to ex-England rugby star Mike Tindall in Edinburgh in 2011, and it emerged that she and Phillips had reconnected at a Gordonstoun reunion in 2019.

Like Peter, her marriage had ended in divorce, and their romance was confirmed in November 2021 when they were photographed together ahead of Lucas Tindall’s christening – a double baptism involving Princess Eugenie’s son August Brooksbank.

Not long afterwards, Ms Wallace was introduced to the late Queen Elizabeth when the couple joined a shooting party at Windsor. The encounter was said to be ‘warm’.

Insiders suggested at the time it was a ‘clear sign Lindsay had been welcomed into the family’. Marriage was being murmured and reports suggested that nothing would give the Queen more pleasure than to see her grandson happy.

Queen Elizabeth visits Port Regis School where her grandchildren Zara and Peter Phillips are pupils

Queen Elizabeth visits Port Regis School where her grandchildren Zara and Peter Phillips are pupils

Peter and Zara receive a visit at Gordonstoun from their grandmother

Peter and Zara receive a visit at Gordonstoun from their grandmother

The romance was moving with dizzying speed with Phillips and Ms Wallace appearing at Royal Ascot and the Derby. They also featured in a photoshoot for Australian Vogue alongside Zara and her husband. Last summer, an engagement seemed to be a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ after they were among the Royal Family at the post-Coronation concert.

A friend was confidently quoted saying of Peter: ‘He is in a great place at the moment and could not be happier. Lindsay really is a breath of fresh air and it’s clear to see both Lindsay and Peter are loving life.’

The friend described the couple as being ‘incredibly happy’.

But the pair did not appear with the rest of the Royal Family at Sandringham for Christmas. And when Ms Wallace did not join Phillips at the Bahrain Grand Prix at the beginning of March, questions began to be asked.

Just what prompted the split is not clear. Inevitably some will talk of that old cliche that an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and wonder if Phillips is a chip off his father’s block.

Mark Phillips’s 19-year marriage to Princess Anne was hardly a textbook success story. It ended in 1992, and Anne went on to marry a former royal equerry, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence. Five years later, Captain Phillips married US-born dressage rider Sandy Pflueger, with whom he had a daughter Stephanie, but that also ended in divorce, in 2012, amid reports he had an affair with another US equestrian, Lauren Hough, almost 30 years his junior. (Phillips also fathered another daughter following an affair with a New Zealand art teacher in the 1980s.)

Peter Phillips was the first of the late Queen’s grandchildren to marry, the first to make her a great-grandmother and the first to divorce. As a young man he was rarely without a girl on his arm. At co-ed Gordonstoun he dated several fellow pupils. One was army officer’s daughter Penny Taylor, two years his senior; another was Emily Ayre, the daughter of an Edinburgh businessman, who was two years his junior.

After graduating from the University of Exeter with a degree in sports science, he dated American cod-liver oil heiress Elizabeth Iorio, who shared his cosy flat in Belsize Park, north London, but who, after they parted, suggested he needed to ‘grow up’. Then came a romance with British Airways stewardess Tara Swain.

It was on a business trip at the 2003 Montreal Grand Prix that he met the glamorous Autumn, who was working at the event as a Budweiser girl – a model promoting the beer – and didn’t realise he was the Queen’s grandson. The pair embarked on a relationship and she moved to London. Four years later, Phillips popped the question.

On the face of it she seemed an unlikely royal bride: the daughter of a hairdresser, her brothers were a bricklayer and a chef and there was a wayward uncle who once ran a strip club. But while their wedding day is remembered, chiefly, for that Hello! deal and for Prince William’s then girlfriend Kate Middleton being introduced to the Queen, the marriage flourished – at least to start with.

But business deals increasingly found Phillips in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. He was criticised after his management company was paid £750,000 to oversee a £150-a-head picnic party in The Mall to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. And four years ago he was attacked for using his family connections to sell milk on Chinese TV. (His firm had also negotiated deals for his Olympic medal-winning sister Zara.)

At the same time, he and Autumn made the brutal discovery that by financially enriching themselves through their royal links, they opened up their private lives to scrutiny.

Letting one long-term relationship fail may be unfortunate, allowing two to slip through your fingers looks careless. No wonder Phillips’s friends say he will now need all his admirable qualities to reinvent himself.

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

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