One of the royal family’s most shocking scandals has been kept hidden under wraps for nearly four decades...until now.
In a move that is sure to rock the monarchy, New Idea can exclusively reveal intimate details about the affair involving Princess Anne’s former husband, Captain Mark Phillips.
Over 20 years ago, Phillips fathered a secret love child with New Zealander Heather Tonkin.
The little girl, Felicity, was just four years younger than her royal half-sister, Zara. However, royal sources have revealed to New Idea that Mark has ‘been in denial’ about his daughter since the day she was born.
‘He just never accepted it and couldn’t cope with it,’ says a close friend.
Mark and Heather – a former art teacher and model – are believed to have met at an Auckland riding clinic when the former army captain was still married to Princess Anne.
The pair were alleged to have indulged in a one-night stand at a nearby hotel. When Heather found out a month later that she was pregnant, a shocked Mark tried to convince her to have an abortion.
Adamant that she would keep her unborn baby, Heather went through with the pregnancy, affectionately giving her little girl the nickname ‘Bunny’.
Meanwhile Mark secretly paid his one-time lover a meagre $12,000 a year in child maintenance, but refused to have anything more to do with his secret daughter.
When the payments trailed off, Heather fought to secure a better ‘deal’ for Felicity, however, Mark refused to even be named on her birth certificate.
When Felicity was five years old, Heather took her case to court and a DNA test proved Captain Mark Phillips was indeed the child’s father.
‘Like a lot of men who fall to temptation and have a one-night stand resulting in a pregnancy, Mark blamed the woman concerned,’ the source revealed.
And Felicity – who shares a love of horses with half-sister Zara – has been left heartbroken by her father’s rejection.
According to The Express, the equine vet kept a book about Mark by her bed and spent her time devouring press articles about her British ‘family’.
Her mother’s former lover Jason Fowell told the publication: ‘She’d have liked a card or something, some sort of recognition. She wished she had a father to go to school interviews, that sort of thing. I saw her cry about it.’
In 1999, Mark and Felicity sensationally came within 15 metres of each other at a three-day event in New Zealand, but tragically for Felicity, Princess Anne’s former husband completely refused to have anything to do with her.
‘The story heaped shame on the royal family as he was married to Princess Anne back when, and it was a different time,’ the royal source explained to New Idea.
‘Maybe today people would be more relaxed about the situation, but then it was a massive scandal and his guilt resulted in him shutting down and trying to convince himself it never happened,’ they added.
According to the source, none of the family has ever had anything to do with Felicity.
‘None of the royals speak to Heather or Felicity. They just don’t want to get involved and that’s probably the way it will stay.’
Last year, Felicity and her husband Tristan Wade welcomed their first child, James, yet sadly Captain Mark Phillips still refuses to be acknowledged as his grandfather.
Princess Diana and Fergie were said to be shocked by the Captain’s love child, despite Princess Anne describing them as ‘silly immature schoolgirls’.
In hindsight, we now know both royals had their own scandals to deal with, from affairs to toes (see right)!
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea, on sale now!