Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Other Royal Wedding: Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall

With so much attention focused on the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, it’s easy to forget that the Queen has another grandchild who is getting married this summer. Perhaps that is on purpose given the low key lifestyle of Zara Phillips and her fiancé, Mike Tindall. As royal watchers know, William is not the first of the Queen’s grandchildren to get married. Peter Phillips married first almost three years ago when he married Canadian Autumn Kelly. Now this summer it will be his sister’s turn. While Peter married at Windsor Castle, Zara surprised many by choosing Edinburgh for her wedding instead of more expected sites like her home county of Gloucestershire or Hampton Court where Lord Frederick Windsor was married.

The happy couple, who were introduced by Prince Harry in a bar in 2003 during the Rugby World Cup in Sydney, has been dating for seven years. They were first spotted at the swank Met Bar in London, although they just claimed to be friends, and then on a date at the Badminton Horse Trials before making their relationship public. Before meeting the 6’2” 224 plays outside centre for Gloucester Rugby who she calls a ‘gentle giant,’ Zara had been involved in a tempestuous four year relationship with jockey Richard Johnson. Since meeting Tindall, the pair have settled down first on a rent free cottage on her mother’s Gatcombe estate but moved into a £800,000 three-story Georgian house in April 2009.

At first glance, Tindall seems like an unlikely choice for a royal son-in-law. Tindall is from Leeds in Yorkshire, he served fish and chips from a van while at school. He also has 2 criminal convictions for drunk driving, the second led to him losing his license for three years and paying a fine of £500. Tindall, 32, has claimed that it was his "pure charm" that won her heart. Princess Anne has been adamant since her children’s birth that they are not royal; they just happen to have a Queen for a grandmother. They get no money from the civil list and have no royal duties. Considered a bit of a wild child, Zara famously pierced her tongue, and is known for her short skirts and fab tastes in hats. .Although 12th in line for the throne, Zara is more concerned with making the Olympic team in 2012.

It was sport that brought them together. They seem to have appreciation for the trials and tribulations of their chosen sports. Tindall is often seen at Zara’s events, and she is a regular at his rugby matches. Zara is one of Britain's top equestrians and a former world three-day Eventing champion. Her fiancé, who plays for club side Gloucester, has been capped more than 60 times by his country and was part of the England team that won the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Speaking to HELLO! Magazine last year, Mike, said "I don’t think it’s about whether we will get married but when. There's no doubt that I love Zara but it has to be the right time…And yes it probably will be a white wedding, although sometimes I can see the attraction of sneaking away without telling anyone." Reflecting on their relationship, "I just really liked her. It wasn't love at first sight - I wasn't looking for romance. But, naturally, I wasn't unmoved by her. She is a stunning woman. There was something there."

According to the Daily Mail, Zara said back in 2008, “I’m old-fashioned. I think they should ask you. Everyone at the rugby club seems to be getting married and having babies so they keeping asking me, ‘What about you?”

Zara and Mike have decided to get married in Scotland this summer on July 30th. This won’t be the first royal wedding north of the border. Princess Anne had her second wedding to now Vice-Admiral Timothy Laurence in 1992 at a church near Balmoral. That decision had more to do with The Church of Scotland allowing divorced people to remarry in the church, while the Church of England does not.  Sources say Zara and Mike are under pressure not to follow in her brother’s footsteps by selling the rights to the wedding to a tabloid like Hello!

Marrying in Scotland is in keeping with the couple’s low key approach. While Kate and William had a formal press conference to announce their engagement, Zara and Mike wore jeans and winter coats for their informal announcement in December. The church, Canongate Kirk, is where the Queen worships when she is in town. Palace sources day that the wedding will be a private affair with the costs covered by the families. It has been announced that It has also emerged that Tindall's best man will be fellow rugby player Iain Balshaw, who was part of England's rugby World Cup-winning squad. The wedding reception will be held at The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland (which she rarely uses). It is also the palace where Mary Queen of Scot’s private secretary David Rizzio was famously murdered.

The busy couple has postponed plans for a honeymoon due to their careers and might even put it off until next year. Tindall has confirmed he intends to play rugby for England just a week after the couple get married, meaning he has to be back in training two days after the ceremony. Zara, meanwhile, will compete at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, the same weekend.