‘Lights went out’: Princess Anne got back on horse after suffering concussion at ’76 Olympics

Princess Anne is no stranger to dealing with injuries related to her life-long love of horses and riding.

The 73-year-old Princess Royal, regarded as one of the most experienced riders in Britain, remained hospitalized Monday after suffering minor injuries and a concussion at her Gatcombe Park estate in southwest England over the weekend.

The head injuries are consistent with an impact from a horse’s legs or head, a source told the Daily Beast. But it’s unclear whether Anne was riding or walking near horses when she was injured, according to the Daily Beast.

Nearly 50 years ago, Anne suffered a concussion while competing in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. As a member of the British team, she was riding a horse named Goodwill, which belonged to her mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, and suffered a bad fall when the horse became stuck in boggy mud, The Telegraph reported.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 15: Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, speaks with guests after the presentation of the new Sovereign’s Standard to The Blues and Royals during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 15, 2023 in London, England. The regiment will provide the Sovereign’s Escort at Trooping The Colour on Saturday. (Photo by Victoria Jones – Pool/Getty Images)

“As far as I’m concerned, the lights went out,” Anne said about the fall in her autobiography, “Riding Through My Life,” The Telegraph reported. If the horse had not fought to remain upright, she said, “I wouldn’t be here now.”

Anne, who began riding at age 3, nonetheless managed to get herself back up, remount the horse and finish the event, though she admitted in her book that her memory of that day is “almost non-existent,” The Telegraph reported. She also said her brothers teased her about how her performance seemed to improve after the fall. “We ought to bang you on the head before you start next time!” she said they joked.

In the 21st century, concussions are no longer regarded as laughing matters, and Anne’s doctors seem to be taking her latest injury pretty seriously, enough to keep her in the hospital.

The Telegraph reported that Anne remained in the Southmead Hospital in Bristol Monday “as a precautionary measure for observation” but is expected to make a full and swift recovery.  She was said to be “awake and conscious.”

There’s no word yet on whether Anne was alone at the time of her injury, or who summoned emergency services, The Telegraph said. However, Anne’s husband, Sir Tim Laurence, and her children, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, were present at the estate.

An air ambulance was called to the scene but may not ultimately have been used to transport the princess to the hospital, The Telegraph said. The Daily Beast reported that Anne was treated at the scene before being transported.

It’s not known how long Anne will remain in the hospital, but her scheduled engagements for the rest of the week have been postponed on doctors’ advice, the Daily Beast said.

That means she won’t be flying to Canada at the end of this week for a planned visit, a source told the Daily Beast. Anne also won’t attend a state banquet for Emperor Naruhito of Japan on Tuesday, though the banquet will otherwise go ahead as scheduled.

Unfortunately, Anne’s injury comes at a delicate time for the royal family. She’s the latest family member to deal with a health crisis, with both the king and Catherine, the Princess of Wales, undergoing treatment for cancer. Anne has become a key member of Charles’ “slimmed-down” monarchy and has stepped in for him at events as he undergoes his treatment.

Just last week, she rode alongside Prince William and Prince Edward during Trooping the Color, an event Charles normally would ride in. The Olympic equestrian won particular praise for calmly maintaining control over an excitable horse named Noble, the New York Post reported.

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