Out of all of the members of the Royal Family, Mike and Zara Tindall’s relationship seems to be the most ‘normal’.
Not because of their relationship itself, but because they’re not working royals, and have done their best to ensure that they and their three children lead down-to-earth, normal lives.
Piercing her tongue as a teenager earned Zara a bit of a ‘Royal Rebel’ reputation from some tabloids and traditionalists, and she had been known to throw caution to the wind when it comes to royal protocol.
Plus, her and her brother Peter Phillips are the only two of the Queen’s grandchildren who didn’t carry the Mountbatten-Windsor surname from birth.
Princess Anne (somewhat of a rebel herself) and her then husband Captain Mark Phillips refused to give the siblings royal titles, and they took his surname instead.
So it didn’t seem as too much of a surprise when she chose someone ‘normal’ to spend the rest of her life with. If you can call an international World Cup-winning rugby player ‘normal’, but it's all relative.
Throughout their relationship however, the couple have remained about as down-to-earth as you can get when one of you is the Queen’s eldest granddaughter. Zara have never been a recipient of the Civil List, and the couple fund their lives from their respective sporting careers, and sponsorship deals relating to them.
Mike hung up the boots to his 75-cap international rugby career in 2014, but is still heavily involved in the sport, namely through his rugby podcast, The Good, The Bad, and The Rugby, (where he occasionally drops insight into his relationship with the young royal and her family), whilst Zara still continues to compete competitively in equestrian events as recently as September 2022.
Now, Mike Tindall is the first member of the Royal Family (via marriage or otherwise) to partake in a reality TV show, and will be joining other famous faces down-under in the new season of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here when it begins on 6 November.
As the former rugby player joins the cast of I’m A Celebrity..., we take a look back at Mike and Zara Tindall’s relationship timeline.
Zara and Mike Tindall's relationship timeline
Zara and Mike first met in Australia during the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The young royal was on her gap year at the time, and travelling down under with friends, while the rugby player had been called up to the England squad for the tournament.
Mike had been dropped from the team for the semi-finals, so went to Manly Wharf bar in Sydney “for a beer with two others who weren't playing, Martin Corry and Austin Healey,” he told the Daily Mail in 2011. “Zara was in the same bar; we got introduced but didn't speak that much.”
Healey gave Mike her number and said: “She wants you to text her, to say where you're all going out after the final so she can come along.”
The centre was called up to be in the starting 15 for the dramatic final won by Jonny Wilkinson's dramatic last-minute drop goal, but he did send her a message and the two started talking.
Once they were both back in the UK, Zara invited Mike to the North Cotswold Ball as her date.
27 April, 2004
After a few months of spending a lot of time together, their relationship “went to the next level” and the two became official.
“I think it was April 27 (2004) - that would be the official date we said we were going to go out with each other,” Mike told the Daily Mail.
After several years of dating, the couple eventually moved in together on Princess Anne's Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire. Later in 2009, they moved into their own home together in Cheltenham, not far from Mike’s club of Bath, and where Zara would train in Gatcombe Park.
Just a month after Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Zara’s cousin, Prince William, to Kate Middleton, Mike proposed to Zara in the comfort of their Regency townhouse in Cheltenham.
“I was upstairs, plucking up the nerve to do it, while Zara was downstairs watching television,” he recounted in a 2011 interview. “It was all about shock value — I wanted to catch her when it was quiet and she wasn't expecting anything.”
“I walked in there and got down on one knee, with the ring. She was on the sofa, so that made it easier. I said, ‘Will you marry me?’ She started laughing. She was completely in shock. Then, when she stopped laughing, she said, ‘Yes.’ That was a relief.”
Speaking about the timing of their engagement, he later added, “I had been thinking about it for ages, waiting to ask, but then my brother got engaged, and so did a certain Duke of Cambridge. I thought I'd better get on with it.”
July 30, 2011
The happy couple were married seven months later in July 2011. The ceremony was a fairly pared-back occasion compared to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in April of the same year.
Of course, it was only ‘pared back’ as much as could be for a wedding that counted the Queen and several members of the Royal Family as guests.
The couple chose Canongate Kirk on Edinburgh's Royal Mile for the ceremony, and Holyroodhouse for the reception, where 400 of their friends and family, including Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William and Kate, and Prince Harry, joined them.
Zara wore an ‘off-the-rack’ dress (not a bespoke design) by Stewart Parvin, which featured a chevron-detailed bustier in ivory silk. She wore a veil, Jimmy Choo shoes, and a Greek tiara lent to the bride by her mother Princess Anne.
The diamond tiara originally belonged to her great-grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, Prince Phillip’s mother (who was also known by her married title, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark). Princess Alice gave the tiara to the Queen as a wedding present in 1947, and in turn, the Queen later gave it to Princess Anne.
8 July, 2013
Buckingham Palace announced that Zara and Mike were expecting their first child together, due in the New Year.
17 January, 2014
The couple’s first child, Mia Grace Tindall, was born on 17 January, 2014. Mike shared his thanks to well-wishers on Twitter, declaring it the “best day” of his life.
“Thanks so much for all your kind messages,” he wrote. “Definitely the best day of my life today; so happy! The girls are both doing great!”
Just a few weeks after announcing they were expecting their second child, a spokesperson revealed that the royal couple lost the baby around four months into Zara's pregnancy just before Christmas 2016.
18 June, 2018
The couple’s second daughter, Lena Elizabeth Tindall was born in 2018. A month later, Zara revealed that she had sadly suffered a second miscarriage before she became pregnant with Lena.
“I think that's the hardest thing in our situation, is that everyone knew,” she told BBC Breakfast presenter Sally Nugent in an emotional interview. “And very much when things like that happen, normally it's just your family and friends, but unfortunately everyone knew about it.”
Foregoing the tradition that Buckingham Palace usually announces expecting pregnancies, Mike revealed that he and Zara were expecting a third baby on his podcast, The Good, The Bad & The Rugby.
“It’s been a good week for me, had a little scan last week – third Tindall on its way,” Mile told his co-hosts James Haskell and Alex Payne.
Soon after the announcement, a Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed the Queen and Prince Philip are “delighted”.
The spokesman said: “Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh are aware and delighted.”
“I’d like a boy this time. I've got two girls; I would like a boy,” added Mike on his podcast. “I’ll love it whatever, whether a boy or a girl—but please be a boy.”
Read more: Is there a protocol for royal births?
21 March, 2021
Sure enough, a few months later, the couple’s third child, and first son, Lucas Philip Tindall was born.
Mike later went into details about his son’s birth, again on his podcast, revealing that the couple didn’t make it to a hospital in time, and Zara had to give birth in their bathroom.
“A little baby boy arrived at my house!” Mike told his co-hosts, adding that a friend of the couple was with them “and recognized that we wouldn't have got to the hospital in time…[sic]”
“So, it was run into the gym, get a mat, get into the bathroom, get a mat on the floor, towels down, ‘brace-brace-brace.’”
Mike supported his wife and members of the Royal Family at the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth. The days following the Queen's death were sad and emotional for the Royal Family, Tindall said, but it was “amazing in other ways to see the family come so close together overnight”.
“It's like the world has lost their grandmother in some ways,” he said.