The surprising royals who have competed at an Olympic Games

Ahead of the Paris Olympic Games, we look back at the blue bloods who went for gold.
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The Olympics have a very special place in the hearts of many royals, but did you know there are a handful who have competed themselves?

Better yet, some of these royal elite athletes have even won Olympic medals of their own!

From the Monegasque couple who have both competed to the deeply entrenched love the Windsors hold for equestrian sports, it’s clear that despite their royal status, these blue bloods are still fuelled by a desire to achieve greatness on the world’s largest sporting stage.

So, while the Paris 2024 Olympic Games take place, we take a look back at the royal family members who have ever competed at a Summer or Winter Olympic Games.

king harold royals Olympic Games
King Harald of Norway. (Credit: Getty)

Harald V of Norway

His Royal Highness, now 87, competed in yachting events at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the 1968 Games in Mexico City, and the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

He never won a medal (placing 10th, 11th, and 8th respectively), but he was lucky enough to carry the Norwegian flag at the Opening Ceremony in Japan.

Fast forward to 1994 and the Norweigan royal was a recipient of the Olympic Order in Gold and opened the 1994 Winter Olympics – which took place in Lillehammer, Norway.

Sailing remains the monarch’s great passion in life. “Out on the water he’s allowed to just be Harald, he doesn’t want to be the king out there,” Norwegian author Jon Amtrup has previously penned.

princess anne royals Olympic Games
Princess Anne. (Credit: Getty)

The Princess Royal, Anne

History was made at the 1976 Montreal Games when the Princess Royal became the first member of the British Royal family to compete at the Olympics.

Anne rode on her mother’s horse Goodwill in the equestrian three-day Team Eventing round but, despite a series of strong rides, she did not get to the medal podium and placed 11th.

While her Olympic dream ended, her association with the international sporting tournament did not. In 1983 she became the President of the British Olympic Association and in 1988 was also appointed as a Member of the International Olympic Committee.

The 17th in the line of succession was also named Director of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and was involved in London’s successful bid to host the London 2012 Olympic Games.

As part of her duties, she formally accepted the iconic Olympic flame in Athens on behalf of London and brought it back to the United Kingdom for its 8,000-mile relay tour of the nation.

princess charlene royals Olympic Games
Princess Charlene. (Credit: Getty)

Charlene, Princess of Monaco

Representing South Africa, Charlene Wittstock was part of the women’s 4 x 100-metre medley team in the pool at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, which, despite a valiant effort, came in fifth, with the gold going to the Australian team.

Two years later at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, Charlene was part of the team that won a silver medal in the same event.

She still had Olympic glory in mind and was training to compete at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, but ultimately failed to qualify and retired in 2007.

Curiously, it was actually at a swimming competition held in Monaco in 2000 that Charlene met her future husband, Albert II, Prince of Monaco. After several years of dating, they made their public debut as a couple at the Opening Ceremony of the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

prince albert royals Olympic Games
Prince Albert. (Credit: Getty)

Albert II, Prince of Monaco

Monaco’s sovereign prince competed in the bobsleigh at five Winter Games, taking part in both the two-man and four-man events.

The highest position he has ever scored was 25th in the two-man bobsleigh at the Calgary 1998 Winter Olympic Games.

Prince Albert’s Olympics roots stretch back to his maternal uncle John Kelly, who represented the US in rowing four times, winning bronze at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games.

mark phillips royals Olympic Games
Mark Phillips. (Credit: Getty)

Mark Phillips

Princess Anne’s ex-husband, and father of Peter and Zara Tindall, won gold in equestrian three-day events at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games where he rode the horse Great Ovation.

Mark already had a stack of triumphs to his name and later won silver in the same event at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games with the horse Cartier.

“Part of the Olympics is walking away and saying, ‘I’ve done my best’,” Mark has previously said.

king frederik royals Olympic Games
King Frederik. (Credit: Getty)

King Frederik X of Denmark

Denmark’s Crown Prince had long harboured Olympic dreams of his own and considered joining the Danish Olympic sailing team to compete at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.

He never quite realised his ambitions, settling for an official role as the main supporter of the Danish sailing team four years later in Sydney. They won gold in the Soling Three-Person Keelboat event.

From 2009 until 2021 Frederik was also a member of the International Olympic Committee.

infanta christina royals Olympic Games
Infanta Cristina. (Credit: Getty)

Infanta Cristina of Spain

The sister of King Felipe of Spain competed in the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games Olympics on Spain’s sailing team.

In 1996 while at the Atlanta Games, Cristina met and fell in love with handball star Iñaki Urdangarin. He competed in three Olympics and took home two bronze medals.

zara tindall royals Olympic Games
Zara Tindall. (Credit: Getty)

Zara Tindall

The Queen’s granddaughter followed the family’s traditional path into equestrian sports, but her dream of Olympic glory seemed ill-fated.

She missed out on both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 when her horse was injured, but on home soil at the London 2012 Olympic Games, she was riding high and took silver in the multi-event Team Eventing round.

The medal was presented to the team by Zara’s mother Princess Anne.

king felipe royals Olympic Games
King Felipe. (Credit: Getty)

Felipe VI of Spain

The then Prince of Spain not only competed at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games but was also the flag-bearer for Spain (pictured above) at the Opening Ceremony.

Sadly, he did not place on the podium in the Soling class sailing event where his team finished in sixth place.

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