Mark Phillips ready to quit over new love

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Captain Mark Phillips, the Princess Royal’s former husband, has spoken of his new relationship with a woman almost 30 years his junior.

The 63-year-old, who coaches the US eventing team as their chef d’equipe, separated from his second wife, Sandy, and began divorce proceedings earlier this year after falling for fellow equestrian Lauren Hough, 35.

Capt Phillips, whose daughter Zara Phillips is competing in Team GB’s equestrian events, has faced criticism and calls for his resignation over his affair with Ms Hough, who is also a member of the American team’s coaching staff.

After the Olympics is over Capt Phillips will leave his job, but he says it is not because of the online firestorm he faced in the US.

He said: “I don’t read chatrooms and all that rubbish as it’s mostly uninformed and unidentified opinion, which won’t change my life.

“I have the total support of the team and that’s what matters.

“I’m not out to win a popularity contest.

“It’s sad when a sport can’t get behind their coaches going into an Olympics, and if that’s the future, I’m not sad to be leaving.”

Capt Phillips was married to the Princess Royal for 19 years before divorcing in 1992.