Vice Admiral Sir Timothy James Hamilton Laurence KCVO, CB, ADC(P) (born 1 March 1955) is a retired British naval officer and the second husband of Princess Anne, the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II. Laurence was Equerry to the Queen from 1986 to 1989.
Timothy James Hamilton Laurence was born in Camberwell, South London, the son of Commander Guy Stewart Laurence (also salesman for a marine engine manufacturer) and Barbara Alison Laurence, née Symonds.
Laurence was first educated at The New Beacon Preparatory School and then at Sevenoaks School, Kent, and University College, University of Durham, on a Naval Scholarship, where he received a Bachelor of Science upper 2nd class honours degree in geography. At university, he edited the student newspaper, Palatinate, and was captain of his college cricket team.
He was promoted to midshipman on 1 January 1973, and acting sub-lieutenant on 1 January 1975. Upon leaving Durham he completed his initial training at the Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, and was posted to HMS Aurora, a Plymouth-based frigate. He was promoted to lieutenant 10 months early, on 1 March 1977.
In 1978 he was attached to the training establishment HMS Vernon and in the next year served on the minesweeper HMS Pollington.
Laurence served briefly as Navigating Officer of the Royal Yacht HMY Britannia, and 1980 to 1982 in the same role on the destroyer HMS Sheffield. He took command of the patrol boat HMS Cygnet off Northern Ireland in 1982, as part of the patrols for IRA gun-runners.
After attending HMS Dryad for a Principal Warfare Officer course, Laurence was promoted to lieutenant commander (1 March 1985), and posted to the frigate HMS Alacrity. He attended the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Tactics Course (RANTACCS) at HMAS Watson, Sydney in March 1986 during which he was notified of his first staff appointment commencing April 1986 as Equerry to The Queen. He was promoted to commander on 31 December 1988.
In October 1989 he was posted to the new frigate HMS Boxer, and took over as Commanding Officer on 30 January 1990, at the age of 34.
Between 1992 and 1994 Laurence was with the naval staff in the Ministry of Defence, London. On 16 May 1994 he was appointed the first Military Assistant to the Secretary of State for Defence (Malcolm Rifkind), to provide military advice in his private office.
Laurence was promoted to captain on 30 June 1995, and until 1996 was in command of the frigate HMS Cumberland. In May 1996 the ship was back from the Adriatic, where HMS Cumberland served in the NATO-led IFOR. On 27 August 1996 Laurence became Commanding Officer of the frigate HMS Montrose as well as Captain of the 6th Frigate Squadron. Until October 1996 the ship was in the South Atlantic, on Falkland Islands patrol.
From July 1997 he was back in the Ministry of Defence, initially on the Naval Staff and then from June 1998, on promotion to commodore, as a member of the Implementation Team for the 1998 Strategic Defence Review.
From January 1999 he was Hudson Visiting Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, where he wrote a paper on the relationship between humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping. He was then posted to the Joint Services Command and Staff College as a commodore, as Assistant Commandant (Navy), effective 15 June 1999.
From 2001 to the spring of 2004 he was back at the Ministry of Defence, as Director of Navy Resources and Programmes.
Laurence was promoted to rear admiral (effective 5 July 2004), and made Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff with responsibility for Resources and Plans, July 2004. On 30 April 2007 he was promoted to vice admiral, and made Chief Executive of Defence Estates (since renamed Defence Infrastructure Organisation, as of 2008).
He became Head of Profession for the British Government’s Property Asset Management community in July 2009. The community includes practitioners in construction procurement, estates & property management and facilities/contracts management. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has made Laurence an Honorary Member in recognition of this very significant span of asset management responsibility.
He retired from the Navy in August 2010 and now pursues a portfolio of mainly non-executive and charitable interests, with a particular emphasis on property and regeneration. He is on the Board of the project management company, Capita Symonds, is non-executive Chairman of the property developers, Dorchester Regeneration, and is acting Chairman of Saturnland, a newly established company specialising in site reclamation and regeneration. As a Senior Military Adviser to PA Consulting, he contributes to their property work as well as advising on defence issues. He is on the Boards of English Heritage, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the HMS Victory Preservation Company. Transport interests include membership of the First Great Western Advisory Board. Other activities include tennis, golf, sailing, field sports and battlefield tours.
Laurence met Princess Anne when he served as an Equerry to Queen Elizabeth II in 1986, at a time when it was widely rumoured that her first marriage to Captain Mark Phillips was breaking down. In 1989, the existence of private letters from Laurence to the princess was revealed by The Sun newspaper, though it did not name the sender. Buckingham Palace issued a statement: “The stolen letters were addressed to the Princess Royal by Commander Timothy Laurence, the Queen’s Equerry. We have nothing to say about the contents of personal letters sent to Her Royal Highness by a friend which were stolen and which are the subject of a police investigation.”
Commander Laurence and Anne were married on 12 December 1992 in a Church of Scotland ceremony at Crathie Parish Church, Ballater, near Balmoral, the Church of Scotland permitting the remarriage of divorced people. He received no peerage on marriage, but was knighted by the Queen in June 2011 as a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.
Princess Anne retained her country estate, Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire, after her divorce. After they were married, she and Laurence leased as their London residence, a flat in the Dolphin Square complex in Westminster. They later returned to apartments in Buckingham Palace and now have an apartment at St James’s Palace.