The former husband of the Princess Royal, Captain Mark Phillips, is to divorce for a second time, to be with American showjumper Lauren Hough, who is 28 years his junior.
Phillips, 63, is the father of British equestrian Zara Phillips, who is vying for a spot in the British Olympic team.
He is currently chef d’equipe of the US eventing team as it prepares for the London Olympics.
It is understood Phillips will not be returning to the family home he shared with his 58-year-old wife, Sandy, and 14-year-old daughter, Stephanie, in Cherington, Gloucestershire.
He had already been spending several months a year in the United States as part of his work commitments.
Hough, 35, lives in Florida, and the new couple are reportedly intending to set up home in Wellington, a winter equestrian hub in the United States. They are reported to be looking to buy a home together.
Phillips’ law firm, CKFT, released a statement saying: “Captain and Mrs Mark Phillips are separating and divorce proceedings have commenced. The couple have a daughter, aged 14, and the care and support of her is Captain Phillips’ main concern at this sensitive time.
“Captain Phillips therefore requests that all parties respect their privacy in the months ahead.”
Phillips is an Olympic gold medallist in three-day eventing. He won the gold in Munich as a 23-year-old, and also has four Badminton wins to his credit, in 1971, 1972, 1974, and 1981.
Since giving up competitive riding in the late 1980s he has earned a living as an equestrian consultant across several spheres, from advising wealthy private clients to designing courses. He writes books and columns, owns a 1000-acre farm, and oversees the annual Gatcombe Horse Trials, as well as being the US eventing team’s chef d’equipe.
California-born Hough is the daughter of another Olympian, Charles “Champ” Hough, who claimed an Olympic bronze medal in team eventing at Helsinki in 1952. Her mother, Linda, operated a hunter and jumper stable for 25 years.
Hough was part of the US Olympic team at Sydney in 2000, and will help coach the current US squad with Phillips for the London Games as an assistant. She was named in the US Olympic showjumping longlist with two horses in March.
Phillips divorced Princess Anne in 1992 after a 19-year marriage. She too, was an Olympic equestrian, having riden for Britain in Montreal in 1976 – three years after they married.
Phillips married Hawaiian-born Sandy Pflueger in 1997. She was a member of the US dressage team at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.
Pflueger was a member of the US dressage team at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and went on to help coach the US team alongside her husband.
Images courtesy Media Exposure