Saturday 10 December 2016

Video: Pomp and circumstance but only in a minor key

Zara Phillips's wedding to rugby star Mike Tindall was very different to that of her cousin William's to Kate, writes Andrea Smith

Published 31/07/2011 | 05:00

RELAXED AFFAIR: Zara Phillips and groom Mike Tindall, who tied the knot
yesterday in Edinburgh. Photo: PA
RELAXED AFFAIR: Zara Phillips and groom Mike Tindall, who tied the knot yesterday in Edinburgh. Photo: PA

WHO'D be a minor royal? We all know that navigating the political minefield that is every ordinary family in the land can be enough to try the patience of a saint, so imagine how complicated life would be if you were a member of the British royal family.

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Which is why Zara Anne Elizabeth Phillips, 30, the Queen's grand-daughter, must have been secretly cursing her luck at the way things have fallen for her as she stepped out to marry England rugby star Mike Tindall yesterday.

While the daughter of Princess Anne is 13th in line for the throne, she is neither a princess, with all of the perks and privileges that go with that, nor is she free to act in the way she might like.

Her mother, the Princess Royal, eschewed bestowing prince and princess titles on Zara and her brother Peter, and they have always been regarded as private members of the royal family. They don't carry out official engagements and don't get public money, but are still constrained by royal protocol in their behaviour.

Zara's new husband Mike is from the village of Crigglestone in West Yorkshire, and he and Zara share a townhouse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. They have been dating for seven years, and are both described as very ordinary and down-to-earth.

Contrast their low-key wedding with the international hoopla that surrounded her cousin William's recent marriage to Kate Middleton, and it becomes clear that all is not fair in love and er, royalty.

While Zara's younger cousin and his bride were married at Westminster Abbey, in a spectacle of horse-drawn carriages, television cameras, and crowds lining the streets, Zara's wedding took place at the more low-key Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, with the reception afterwards at the lesser-known Palace of Holyroodhouse, to give the royal family's Edinburgh seat its official title.

While some are claiming that the low-key nature of the event is because Zara is publicity shy, previous evidence does not bear this out. She was apparently prohibited by the palace from accepting a lucrative deal for yesterday's wedding photos from Hello! magazine, estimated to be in the region of £500,000. One could argue that a celebrity magazine would have no interest in her if it wasn't for her royal connections, but that wouldn't be entirely accurate as she married a well-known

rugby player and is also an Olympic hopeful in her own right. She has appeared in Hello! on several occasions, both with Tindall and her

previous long-term boyfriend, jockey Richard Johnson.

Zara is an accomplished equestrian star, and her career is heavily dependent on attracting sponsorship. The photos from her wedding would have boosted her profile and would have made a wonderful spread, with all of the royals in attendance. These included the ultra-popular Wills and Kate, who were called by their Scottish titles of the Earl and Countess of Strathearn while in Edinburgh. To add to the glamour of bona fide royalty, many stars of the rugby and equestrian worlds -- considered by many to be another form of royalty -- were there.

If Zara is disappointed today at this missed opportunity to cash in on her wedding, she could apportion some of the blame to her older brother Peter. Following the debacle that ensued after photos from his 2008 wedding to Autumn Kelly appeared in a 59-page spread in the glossy magazine, an edict was issued by the palace banning all future commercial deals. The incident garnered widespread criticism, with some commentators claiming that it was "grasping" and "vulgar", but in reality, this perceived "cheapening" of the monarchy has been going on for years.

Who can forget the disastrous It's a Royal Knockout for instance, where celebrities from teams captained by royal family members took part in tasks dressed as giant vegetables? Viscount Linley appeared in a Hello! spread with his wife and baby and, of course, poor Sarah Ferguson seemed to constantly embarrass the palace.

The problem for Peter and Autumn was that, while some of the photos printed were officially approved by the palace, many others were not. Senior members of the royal family were snapped dancing and socialising, but were apparently under the impression that the photographs were for Peter and Autumn's private album. Buckingham Palace subsequently let it be known that the incident was seen as "a serious error of judgement".

Any sort of connection to the royal family comes with conditions, of course. Just ask Pippa Middleton and her bum.

To add insult to injury, while William and Kate got to go off on honeymoon to the Seychelles, poor Zara will be grounded as her new husband is due back at the England rugby training camp tomorrow. His team has a warm-up match against Wales at Twickenham next Saturday, and Zara also has commitments in her show-jumping career.

However, on the positive side, Zara's new mammy-in-law Linda declared this week that her son is so in love that he wouldn't mind if his bride "worked at a Tesco checkout".

Declaring that she is a lovely girl and perfect for her son, it would appear that the new bride at least struck gold when it comes to the in-laws. And, as everyone knows, no amount of Hello! money could buy you that.

Sunday Independent

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