Scottish Daily Mail

Anne’s af­fair with guard ... by his OTHER lover

- By Bar­bara Davies Celebrities · Royals · Anne, Princess Royal · Busta Rhymes · The Crown · Olivia Colman · Elizabeth II · Queen · Sheffield · Metropolitan Police Service · Mark Phillips · Buckingham Palace · Buckingham Palace · Zara Phillips · Prince of Wales · Diana, Princess of Wales · London · Wallis Simpson · Malta · Croydon · Scotland Yard · Stara Zagora · Mitcham · Sun Life Financial · Beckenham · Croydon · Farnborough

Anne was mar­ried — but fell for her body­guard. Now, as their il­licit ro­mance fea­tures in The Crown, his other lover re­veals the full story: how the Princess pur­sued him af­ter the Palace ban­ished him, their trysts in a semi in Ewell, and how Anne rang him daily us­ing the co­de­name ... Mrs Wal­lis!

THERE was a time when Peter Cross kept a pho­to­graph of Princess Anne in the spare bed­room of his Kent home. Signed by the Princess Royal her­self and framed in leather, the im­age was a touch­ing re­minder of what was once tact­fully re­ferred to pub­licly as her ‘close friend­ship’ with the former royal pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer.

This week, af­ter an­other blis­ter­ing episode from the fourth se­ries of The Crown, that so- called ‘ f riend­ship’ came un­der the spot­light once again with ac­tress Olivia Col­man, play­ing the on-screen ver­sion of the Queen, telling her only daugh­ter of ‘ru­mours about a Sergeant Cross and the two of you be­ing in­ti­mate’.

Hear­ing that Cross is to be ‘ trans­ferred back to desk du­ties in Croy­don’, a tear­ful Anne, played by Erin Doherty, begs her mother: ‘Don’t do that to me. You can’t. He’s the one thing that makes me happy.’

But given that the se­ries has been dogged by con­tro­versy over its ten­dency to twist re­al­ity for the sake of drama, what is the truth about the Princess’s re­la­tion­ship with her mar­ried former body­guard — and what was t he ex­tent of t heir ex­tra-mar­i­tal af­fair?

This week the Mail tracked down the now 72-year-old Cross and spoke ex­clu­sively to his former part­ner, Gil­lian Nicholls, who was privy to many of his se­crets.

SHE­con­firmed this week that he con­tin­ued to see the Princess af­ter his dis­missal. In­deed, on sev­eral oc­ca­sions in the early 1980s, Gil­lian found her­self field­ing the Princess’s se­cre­tive phone calls to Cross at the of­fice where they both worked.

‘His af­fair with her al­ways over­shad­owed our re­la­tion­ship,’ she told me. ‘It al­ways felt like she was there in the back­ground.’

More, in a mo­ment, of the real story about the af­fair which is de­cid­edly more jaw-drop­ping than the two-minute fic­tion­alised scene viewed by tele­vi­sion au­di­ences around the world this week.

Once filled with mu­tual af­fec­tion and ut­ter trust on the part of the dot­ing Princess, t he l i ai­son ul­ti­mately ended in be­trayal when the Sh­effield-born former po­lice­man sold his story to a Sun­day tabloid in 1985.

The tale of the Princess and the po­lice­man stretches back to 1979 when se­nior Scot­land Yard of­fi­cers as­signed Sergeant Peter Cross to the royal pro­tec­tion squad. He be­gan guard­ing 29-year-old Anne in the au­tumn of that year at Gat­combe Park in Glouces­ter­shire and dur­ing royal en­gage­ments. At the time, she had been mar­ried to Cap­tain Mark Phillips for six years. Their son, Peter, was two.

De­spite his de­cid­edly ur­ban back­ground, Cross was said to have ef­fort­lessly blended i n at the nu­mer­ous eques­trian events he at­tended, dress­ing in a hound­stooth check cap and a quilted jacket. He and the Princess were of­ten seen laugh­ing and jok­ing.

But be­hind closed doors, they had started hav­ing heart-to-heart chats on the back stairs at Gat­combe or drink­ing cof­fee to­gether into the early hours.

Ac­cord­ing to Cross’s own ac­count of their re­la­tion­ship: ‘It was very af­fec­tion­ate. We got on fan­tas­ti­cally, ba­si­cally be­cause we’re both straight-talk­ing peo­ple who like to be down to earth.’ He said the Princess was of­ten alone be­cause of her hus­band’s work com­mit­ments: ‘I had to be with her. I was her body­guard. Nat­u­rally, we talked a lot.

‘ She was j ust l i ke any other woman in that sit­u­a­tion — very lonely and iso­lated. We be­came very close be­cause I think the Princess ap­pre­ci­ated my point of view on life. I was al­ways very down to earth and plain-speak­ing with her.’

Anne, he said, told him she ‘would have loved to be an or­di­nary house­wife liv­ing in a semi with kids’. De­spite her yearn­ing for a sim­pler life, he con­tin­ued to call her ‘Ma’am’ in pub­lic and, if they were alone, no name at all. It was only af­ter he had left his po­si­tion that he be­gan to use her first name.

The mo­ment they first kissed came when the Princess’s hus­band was away. Cross de­scribed sit­ting in an arm­chair with the Princess at his feet.

‘ My right hand was kind of dan­gling over the arm of the chair. Sud­denly, she turned and looked at me. At the same time, our hands brushed, then clasped to­gether. For a few sec­onds we re­mained like

‘Anne phoned a lot ... speak­ing re­ally fast in her posh, clipped voice’

that — like two stat­ues, look­ing di­rectly into each other’s eyes, our hands locked to­gether. Then, sud­denly, we kissed,’ he re­vealed in a previous in­ter­view.

Fear­ing they would be seen, they moved to the li­brary — ‘and there we em­braced’.

Their in­ti­mate meet­ings, he said, took place at an empty cot­tage on the es­tate, in her apart­ment at Buck­ing­ham Palace and in a three­bed­room semi in Ewell in Surrey lent to him by a friend.

His feel­ings for ‘one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing women I’ve ever met’, he said, came ‘so close to love’, de­spite the fact he had been mar­ried to his child­hood sweet­heart Linda for a decade and had two young daugh­ters.

By Septem­ber 1980, Mark Phillips is said to have be­come an­gered by their ‘over-fa­mil­iar­ity’. Cross was told he would have to quit by Com­man­der Michael Tre­strail, the Queen’s own body­guard.

ByTHE time Anne found out, Cross had al­ready packed his bags and left his quar­ters. She is said to have gone to her room and wept. Whether or not the Queen was in­volved with the de­ci­sion has never been re­vealed. But one cer­tain in­ac­cu­racy con­tained with The Crown’s ref­er­ence to the af­fair this week is that of timing. Mo­ments be­fore rais­ing the sticky sub­ject of Cross, Olivia Col­man’s

Queen asks af­ter Anne’s ‘chil­dren’, sug­gest­ing that both Peter and Zara had been born at the time.

In fact, Zara Phillips, now Zara Tin­dall, was not born un­til later. Cross claimed Anne wrote to him to say how sorry she was that he had been re­moved.

Just be­fore Christ­mas 1980, he re­ceived a visit f rom a royal de­tec­tive with a card and a box of bis­cuits from Anne. The de­tec­tive asked him for his phone num­ber to give to the Princess.

Soon af­ter, he was sum­moned to Gat­combe Park, where Anne met him in the li­brary.

‘ We talked, held hands and kissed,’ re­called Cross. He said Anne told him: ‘If you ever feel like a day in the coun­try, you know you’re very wel­come.’

Cross added: ‘ “A day in the coun­try” be­came our se­cret code — a phrase that meant we could get to­gether. Af­ter that, we met about once a month.’

Speak­ing soon af­ter her ex-hus­band’s kiss-and-tell, Linda Cross told how the Princess reg­u­larly called their home in Mitcham, Surrey, be­tween Jan­uary and Septem­ber 1981 — usu­ally at the week­end.

She specif­i­cally re­mem­bered the Princess call­ing on May 15, 1981, to break the news that she had given birth to a baby daugh­ter, and also on July 29, 1981 — the day of the Prince of Wales’s wed­ding to Lady Diana Spencer.

‘She rang al­most ev­ery week,’ said Linda. ‘Some­times the kids would an­swer. I got used to them shout­ing, “Dad, it’s Princess Anne on the phone for you!” ’

While she said that previous in­fi­deli­ties had left her mar­riage in t at­ters, t he strain of be­ing en­tan­gled in his re­la­tion­ship with the Princess was the fi­nal straw.

An­other i nfi­delity was with Gil­lian Nicholls, who met Peter Cross in 1981. He had re­cently quit the po­lice — un­able to stom­ach what was, in ef­fect, a de­mo­tion by be­ing pushed back to uni­formed du­ties — and found a job as an in­surance sales­man at Sun Life Fi­nan­cial of Canada in Brom­ley, Kent, where Gil­lian worked as a re­cep­tion­ist.

When they both trans­ferred to Bob Gordon In­surance Ser­vices in Cen­tral Lon­don, Cross be­gan giv­ing her lifts to work and they be­gan an af­fair.

‘I was at­tracted to him right from the start,’ she told me this week. ‘There was just some­thing about him, an in­ner con­fi­dence and self­be­lief. He was charm­ing and could be funny. you felt flat­tered if he showed you at­ten­tion.’

ATFIrST she knew al­most noth­ing about Cross’s former ex­is­tence as a royal pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer un­til the day that Princess Anne tele­phoned the open-plan of­fice and she an­swered his phone.

‘I knew straight away that it was Princess Anne,’ said Gil­lian. ‘She said his name re­ally fast and in such a posh, clipped voice that it sounded like “pid­der­cruss”. I said that he wasn’t in the of­fice and she said “no prob­lem” and hung up.

‘I told him later that I thought Princess Anne had called for him. He wasn’t at all sur­prised. He talked a bit about hav­ing worked for her and said “she rings me now and again”.

‘He didn’t give any­thing away about their re­la­tion­ship. I think I was more amused at the time that I’d spo­ken to Princess Anne on the phone.

‘She called the of­fice a lot, some­times daily, and when I asked who it was she started giv­ing the name “Mrs Wal­lis”, which, of course, im­me­di­ately made me think of Wal­lis Simp­son. When they spoke on the phone, he would close the door to his of­fice and chat for an hour ev­ery time.

‘I did think it was odd that she kept call­ing, which is why I asked him what they were talk­ing about and went into his of­fice with cups of tea for him. I didn’t like it but I ac­cepted that she wanted to keep in touch with him.’

When Gil­lian used to ask Cross what they talked about for so long, she says he told her ‘horses’. She laughs at that now, given that she was also a keen eques­trian and yet when she and Cross even­tu­ally em­barked on an af­fair of their own, he showed no in­ter­est in her own part-bred Arab mare, Nancy.

‘He looked the part in Hunter wellies and the Bar­bour jacket and the flat cap and checked shirt,’ she said, ‘ but he never showed any in­ter­est in horses when we were to­gether.’ She con­firms that Cross also told her of his in­vi­ta­tions to tea at Gat­combe Park af­ter leav­ing Anne’s service.

He even­tu­ally left his wife in 1983 and, at first, went to live with his fa­ther in South Croy­don, Surrey. Then, af­ter Gil­lian sold her flat, they bought a home of their own — a three - bed­room semi in nearby Farn­bor­ough.

Dur­ing the three years that f ol­lowed, the pair con­tin­ued

work­ing to­gether, pop­ping to the pub af­ter work for drinks with col­leagues and hol­i­day­ing in Malta and Lan­zarote. Cross kept hi s l eather- f r amed, s i gned pho­to­graph of Princess Anne in the spare bed­room at their home.

‘I wasn’t go­ing to have it on dis­play in the front room where ev­ery­one could see i t,’ says Gil­lian, ‘but I didn’t mind it be­ing in the house. I never felt threat­ened by Princess Anne. I’ve al­ways ad­mired her. She is one of the most hard-work­ing roy­als.

‘It wasn’t like he was go­ing to go off with her even if he used to talk about her. He said that when Zara was born, Anne had tele­phoned him. He said he’d bought her a teddy bear.’

Sus­pi­cions about Cross’s af­fair with the Princess were f i rst hinted at pub­licly in the sum­mer of 1982 in a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle stat­ing sim­ply that her royal pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer had been sacked be­cause the ‘coun­try-set sarge’ was ‘over-fa­mil­iar’ with his royal charge. At first, Cross de­nied the al­le­ga­tions — but later ad­mit­ted ly­ing be­cause he had been in the mid­dle of his di­vorce from Linda at the time.

His last con­ver­sa­tion with Anne, he has al­ways claimed, was in Novem­ber 1983 when she in­vited him for ‘a day in the coun­try’ and he told her that he was in a new re­la­tion­ship, with Gil­lian. He ar­ranged to call the next day but when he did, there was no re­ply and no fur­ther con­tact.

‘He told me that he told Anne that he was happy now in a re­la­tion­ship with me. But whether or not he did, no­body will ever know,’ said Gil­lian.

By 1984, he was said to be ask­ing for £ 600,000 to tell all about the af­fair.

Gil­lian re­calls go­ing with him to a ho­tel in Cen­tral Lon­don: ‘He was meet­ing some­one to talk about writ­ing a book about the af­fair. He wor­ried about money a lot be­cause he was still pay­ing the mort­gage on his old house and the mort­gage on ours. I don’t think the meet­ing went well be­cause noth­ing came of it. I re­mem­ber my dad said to him that he should take care be­cause he was mess­ing with pow­er­ful peo­ple.’

Linda Cross said at the time that her ex-hus­band had also ap­proached her for help with a mem­oir but that she re­fused to help him.

Gil­lian, mean­while, hoped she and Cross would marry and start a fam­ily. But in 1985, three years into their re­la­tion­ship, he sud­denly walked out on her, two weeks af­ter r eturn­ing f r om a holiday in the Ca­naries.

‘He said that he loved me but couldn’t live with me,’ said Gil­lian. ‘He was for­ever mess­ing me around. He was charm­ing but I could never trust him.’

She was ut­terly heart­bro­ken when, just six weeks later, she dis­cov­ered he had mar­ried a den­tal nurse he had met six months ear­lier while hav­ing a check-up. Their wed­ding took place in Septem­ber 1985, a cou­ple of weeks be­fore Cross fi­nally sold his story to the News of The World.

He said he wanted ‘ to get even with those who ganged up so un­fairly af­ter our friend­ship was be­trayed. Telling my story will help do that’. He added that he had great af­fec­tion for the Princess’s two chil­dren: ‘I’ve never meant Anne or any of the roy­als any harm.’

Gill i an sees t hi ngs r ather dif­fer­ently: ‘ He al­ways said he’d never hurt her. But in the end he be­trayed her.’

We will never know what the Princess Royal felt about Cross’s treach­ery or about the way their re­la­tion­ship was han­dled by the pro­duc­ers of The Crown. In the Net­flix se­ries, her fic­tional al­ter ego tells the Queen of her un­hap­pi­ness. In re­al­ity, of course, she never speaks pub­licly about her pri­vate life, ad­her­ing to the Royal Fam­ily’s ‘never com­plain, never ex­plain’ motto.

Anne’s first mar­riage fi­nally fell apart af­ter she em­barked on an af­fair with Com­man­der Tim Lau­rence in the late-1980s. Cross then reared his head again, twist­ing the knife fur­ther by giv­ing his own in­sights into her failed mar­riage to Mark Phillips.

PRINCESS Anne di­vorced in 1992 and mar­ried Com­man­der Lau­rence, now a vice ad­mi­ral, in De­cem­ber that year.

As for Cross, he is still mar­ried to his sec­ond wife, his former den­tal nurse, An­gela.

The cou­ple, who have two sons, live quietly in a two-bed­room peb­bled a shed 1930 st er race in Hert­ford­shire.

For years he be­lieved that he was a vic­tim of the es­tab­lish­ment, that his polic­ing ca­reer had been de­stroyed be­cause of his re­la­tion­ship with the Princess.

‘Sev­eral peo­ple at Gat­combe were very jeal­ous of my re­la­tion­ship with the Princess,’ he said. ‘Oth­ers were just puz­zled that a Princess and a po­lice­man could have so much in com­mon.’

This week, he ad­mit­ted that he had seen the episode of The Crown in which his name is men­tioned but he de­clined to talk about the past.

 ??  ?? Doomed: Anne and Peter Cross
Doomed: Anne and Peter Cross
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? THE LOVER
By Bh her side: id Pt Peter C Cross with ith Princess P i Anne A and dM Mark k Phillips Philli i in 1980 (main pic­ture). In­set (cir­cled): At an­other event with them
THE LOVER By Bh her side: id Pt Peter C Cross with ith Princess P i Anne A and dM Mark k Phillips Philli i in 1980 (main pic­ture). In­set (cir­cled): At an­other event with them
His­tory to­gether: Peter Cross and Gil­lian Nicholls to­day
THE LOVER NOW His­tory to­gether: Peter Cross and Gil­lian Nicholls to­day

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