Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn Phillips surprised royal fans with the news of their separation this week. The royal couple, who share two daughters, confirmed the end of their 11 year marriage in a statement that revealed they had decided to go their separate ways last year after many months of discussion. Peter and Canada-born Autumn further revealed that they will remain in Gloucestershire in order to co-parent their children, Savannah, nine, and seven-year-old Isla. While the end of the couple's marriage came as a surprise to many, in hindsight there were signs that all was not well in the Phillips's household – particularly around Christmas time.
Peter and Autumn Phillips end their 11 year marriage
Peter, 42, and Autumn, 41, were noticeably absent from the Queen's annual Christmas lunch on 18 December. While no photos from the private event are published, the royals are usually pictured driving to Buckingham Palace. Among the guests at this year's lunch were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their three children, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Anne and husband Sir Tim Laurence, as well as Prince Andrew and the Earl and Countess of Wessex. But there was no signs of the Phillips family, who are usually in attendance at the festive gathering.
The couple pictured with their children, Savannah and Isla
Furthermore, they missed the traditional Christmas Day church service. The Queen and other members of the royal family attend the 11am morning service on Christmas Day at St Mary Magdalene, Sandringham, a 16th century country church visited by the Queen's Great-Great Grandmother, Queen Victoria. This year the monarch was joined by Prince William and Kate, along with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, while Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex also arrived with their children, Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn. Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were also in attendance, as was Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie and Princess Anne, Peter's mother – but there was no sign of Peter and Autumn.
Peter and Autumn were last seen in public together at the Braemar Games in September
By this time, it's thought that the royal family had been informed of the couple's split. In their joint statement, Peter and Autumn confirmed: "…after informing HM The Queen and members of both families last year, Peter and Autumn jointly agreed to separate." It continued: "Both families were naturally sad at the announcement, but fully supportive of Peter and Autumn in the joint decision to co parent their children."
Peter also made a solo visit to Sandringham without his wife in January. Peter and Autumn were last pictured together in public at the Braemar Highland Gathering in Scotland at the start of September, when they joined the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla in the royal box.