Why Peter and Autumn Phillips are parting ways

Queen’s grandson and his wife are to divorce after 12 years

Peter and Autumn Phillips
Peter and Autumn arrive at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018
(Image credit: Gareth Fuller - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn have confirmed they are divorcing after 12 years of marriage.

In a short statement, the couple said that the decision to separate was “the best course of action for their two children and ongoing friendship”.

According to the BBC, the pair will share custody of their children, Savannah, nine, and Isla, seven.

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Why are they divorcing?

“The decision to divorce and share custody came about after many months of discussions and, although sad, is an amicable one,” the couple’s statement reads.

It adds: “Peter and Autumn have requested privacy and compassion for their children while the family continues to adapt to these changes.”

According to the Daily Mail, the separation will be “particularly painful for the Queen”, who has a close relationship with Autumn.

The Sun claims that a friend of the couple said Peter, the 42-year-old son of Princess Anne, is “devastated” by the split, adding: “Autumn is a wonderful wife and mother and a very intelligent woman but she’s been telling her friends for some time that there were issues.”

According to the paper, there is also some talk that Autumn, 41, plans to move back to her native Canada with their two children, a move the friend says may be “influenced by Harry and Meghan’s departure”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have moved to Canada after “stepping back” as senior royals in January.

Both Peter and Autumn’s families are “sad” but “fully supportive” of the decision to “co-parent”, according to the couple’s statement.

The Sun’s report adds that a third party is not believed to be involved in the divorce, with the source adding: “Certainly none of us think either Peter or Autumn are involved with anyone else.”

Who are the couple?

Peter Phillips is the elder child and only son of the Queen’s daughter Anne, Princess Royal, and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips.

As the BBC explains, Phillips is a member of the Royal Family but “he is not a working royal and does not have a title”. He is the first legitimate grandchild of a monarch in more than 500 years to be born without a title or courtesy title.

According to the Daily Mail, he receives no money from the Royal Family and was last month revealed to have appeared in a Chinese TV advertising campaign for milk.

In the ad, Phillips says: “This is what I drink”, as a tagline reads: “British royal family member, Peter Phillips.”

After graduating from the University of Exeter, he worked for Jaguar Racing, followed by Williams Racing. He met Autumn Kelly at the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 2003.

Autumn was formerly a management consultant, model and actress.

The couple married at St George’s Chapel in Windsor in 2008 and, according to the BBC, have brought up their children in Gloucestershire.

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