When you think of Queen Elizabeth’s grandkids, Prince William and Prince Harry surely come to mind. Nevertheless, the princes only make up two of the queen’s eight grandchildren. You’ve likely seen photographs and read a few stories about some of the lesser-known royals, like Princess Eugenie and Beatrice, but the further removed from the throne, the more obscure the royals tend to become. Although they will likely never rule, their lives are plenty interesting. This is especially true of Princess Anne’s daughter, Zara Tindall (née Phillips).
Her story is compelling for a number of reasons: her stance on royalty, her rebellious teen years, her incredible career, and even her views on motherhood. Although she was raised by a princess — the queen’s only daughter — you’d have a hard time believing it. She may have had the benefits of being raised alongside royalty, but she’s incredibly grounded. Here are some things you ought to know about Zara Tindall.
Born "bright as the dawn"
On May 15, 1981, Princess Anne, along with her husband, Captain Mark Phillips, welcomed their second child (and first daughter) from St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. The couple decided to name her Zara Anne Elizabeth Phillips. Although it’s easy to pinpoint the inspiration for the middle names — Anne after the baby’s mother, Princess Anne, and Elizabeth after the baby’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth — the first name is quite unusual. According to Hello! magazine, the baby’s uncle, Prince Charles, was actually the one who suggested it to his sister.
"The baby made a rather sudden and positive arrival," the princess explained, "and my brother thought Zara (a Greek name meaning ‘bright as the dawn’) was an appropriate name." The untraditional name has greatly increased in popularity since the early ’80s, when it ranked in at number 3,197 in popularity. In early 2021, Zara was ranked the 123rd most popular baby girl name, Baby Center reported, and one meaning of the name is "princess."
She feels "lucky" she’s not a royal
Zara Tindall may have a first name that means "princess," but she is not technically a princess or even a senior royal at all. Princess Anne declined her mother’s proposal to bestow Tindall with the royal title of princess. When The Times asked Tindall if she thought life would’ve been different with a title, she responded that it probably would have been. She continued, "But I can’t really answer that. I’m very lucky that both my parents decided to not use the title and we grew up and did all the things that gave us the opportunity to do."
While many of us as children may have dreamed of what life would be like as a princess, it may be hard to imagine someone actually feeling "lucky" to not be a princess. Surely, though, Princess Anne knew all the pros and cons of the princess life and determined she didn’t want what it entailed for her daughter.
Zara Tindall was a "wild child"
In 1998, Zara Tindall — who at that time was known by her maiden name, Zara Phillips — showed up to Prince Charles’ 50th birthday party with her tongue pierced. That’s right — the queen’s granddaughter rocked a body piercing. Tindall was but 17 years old and on summer break from boarding school, Chicago Tribune reported.
Although her tongue stud has since been removed, Tindall’s father, Captain Mark Phillips, told The Times that his daughter is still wild. Tindall interjected, saying, "I don’t know if I was that wild. I guess it looked like that because of my family background. I’m sure that is what it’s probably compared to."
Since Tindall is, and has nearly always been, involved in sports, her father attributes her wildness to the "sporting life." Though, that doesn’t mean she’s a party animal. When asked if she gets "slaughtered," a Britishism referring to getting sloppy drunk, she objected. Her father explained the impact drunkenness would have on his daughter’s sporting career, adding, "Getting slaughtered is not an option but it doesn’t mean to say you can’t go and have a beer or two." All things in moderation, right?
She has a seemingly inherited love of horses
When Princess Anne was a teenager, she started getting interested in horseback riding, BBC reported. By 1971, when she was in her 20s, she had already won eventing titles and was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year. A few years after marrying Captain Mark Phillips, she also went on to compete at the Olympic level in Montreal. Phillips, too, has an interest in horses, which is how the couple first met. In 1972, he won gold at the summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.
That same love of horses may very well be in Tindall’s blood. According to Financial Times, Tindall started riding horses as soon as "she was old enough to sit on a saddle." Some 35 years after her mother was selected as BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Tindall went on to earn the title as well. It’s not exactly a royal title, but it is certainly a well-earned accomplishment.
Like her parents, Tindall also went on to participate in the Olympic Games — London 2012 — winning a silver medal; according to Hello! magazine, she became the first "royal" to win an Olympic medal.
She may not be a total royal, but her wedding certainly was a royal affair
Shortly after her July 2011 wedding, Zara Phillips forewent her maiden name and took the name of her husband, captain of England’s rugby team, Mike Tindall. The two were married in a beautiful summer ceremony in Scotland at a fairly small church, Canongate Kirk. According to People, the bride was dressed in a duchesse satin and ivory silk gown by designer Stewart Parvin, who is most notably known for also designing for the queen — the queen! Tindall also donned a tiara from her mother, Princess Anne, which only increased the royal flair at this wedding.
Many royals were in attendance, including the bride’s then-newlywed cousin, Prince William and, of course, Kate Middleton. Although Tindall told Hello! (via People) that her ceremony would "be nothing like Kate and William’s" because it was much smaller and for close family and friends only, it was still a royally pricy affair. The reception, which took place at one of the queen’s residences, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, is estimated to have cost about $60,000. Add the cost of security at $800,000, and you’ve got yourself quite an expensive day.
Who needs a nanny?
Prince William and Kate Middleton welcomed their third child on Monday, April 23, 2018. With multiple children, busy schedules, and, you know, being royalty and all, it makes sense for them to have a live-in nanny — and that they do. Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo lives at Kensington Palace, according to Us Weekly, and travels alongside the royals, all while taking care of Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.
Just as Zara Tindall planned to have a vastly dissimilar wedding to that of her royal cousin, William, she also has different theories on raising children. In an interview with Financial Times, Tindall apparently showed up a little late. When she greeted the interviewer, she apologized and explained, saying, "I had to feed my daughter. We don’t have a full-time nanny and Mia comes first."
Even with a competitive and demanding career, Tindall took a break from riding in order to have and care for her daughter — Mia certainly does come first.
She is Prince George’s godmother
William and Kate must appreciate Zara Tindall’s parenting style as they selected her to be a godparent to Prince George three months after his birth. The young prince actually has a total of seven godparents, all of whom come from a variety of backgrounds.
According to the BBC, one of the appointed godparents is an interior designer and friends with Middleton, while another is a childhood friend of William. Then there’s the prince’s private secretary, the couple’s mutual pal from college, a close friend of William’s late mother, Princess Diana, and the son of the Duke of Westminster. Tindall, however, was the only family member to be chosen.
Although George has many godparents, their roles are more symbolic than anything else. Royal expert Marlene Koenig told Town & Country that royal godparents often are responsible for "sending a lovely present for their godchild’s birthday until adulthood — and a nice wedding present." Having seven godparents to take on these duties might just be pretty cool.
A ‘freak thing’ turned Zara Tindall’s world upside down
Just a few short weeks after Mike and Zara Tindall announced they were expecting a second child, Zara suffered a late-term miscarriage. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mike publicly discussed the couple’s loss for the first time. "Obviously you’re gutted," he began. Nevertheless, he highlighted the silver lining, which was having a 3-year-old child at home to keep the couple occupied.
Prior to the miscarriage, neither Mike nor Zara knew anything was wrong. They showed up for their ultrasound hoping to learn the sex of the child and instead were given the devastating news that their child had died. "You walk out 20 minutes later and the whole world’s been turned upside down and everything’s changed," he explained. Fortunately, testing ruled out any medical issues. "It was just a freak thing," Mike said. The couple took solace in knowing they would be able to have another child in the future.
Growing her family
In January 2018, Zara Tindall’s pregnancy was announced in a statement from the Press Association. A spokeswoman for the couple confirmed they were, indeed, expecting baby No. 2. Middleton was also pregnant at this time so Queen Elizabeth had to prepare for welcoming two new great-grandbabies to the family. The queen appears to be quite the doting great-grandmother and, according to The Telegraph, told a spokesman that she was "very pleased" to hear that Tindall was expecting.
Although many fans of the royal family were over the moon about William and Middleton’s newest heir to the throne, Tindall’s baby was certainly be another welcome addition. Tindall gave birth to daughter Lena Elizabeth in June. Of course, there was less hoopla over the birth. There wasn’t a royal paper proclamation outside of Buckingham Palace or well-wishers cheering upon spotting the new baby. But that may have been more of a blessing than a curse, wouldn’t you say?
The Tindalls are ‘addicted’ to Netflix’s The Crown
Have you ever wondered if Queen Elizabeth stays up late binge-watching Netflix’s hit show "The Crown"? Rumors claim she is a fan of the series, but Claire Foy, who played the queen in the show, isn’t buying it. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Foy was told that the monarch watched the entire first season "according to a royal source." Foy had her doubts, saying, "I can’t believe, I hadn’t heard anything about it, and I will believe it when I see it is all I’ll say." Okay, so maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to say the queen watches the show, but other members of the royal family definitely do.
Mike Tindall, Zara’s husband, got super excited when a reporter for The Daily Telegraph asked if he watches "The Crown": "Addicted. … You’ve got to watch it, it’s great." Although he can’t say for sure if it’s realistic and explained that his wife wouldn’t know "the ins and outs of whether it’s true" either, the Tindalls love the show all the same.
She gave birth to her son in an unusual place
We typically think of royals — and celebrities in general — giving birth in luxurious surroundings before emerging into the daylight so that us mere mortals can catch a glimpse of the blessed child. Spare a thought, then, for Zara Tindall whose third child was born at home on March 21, 2021. The little boy wasn’t just delivered at home, however; Queen Elizabeth’s 10th great-grandchild was born in the bathroom. "The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are delighted with the news and look forward to meeting their 10th Great Grandchild when circumstances allow," the palace confirmed in a statement, as per People.
Proud father Mike Tindall enthused during an episode of his "The Good, The Bad & The Rugby" podcast, "A little baby boy arrived at my house!" The situation sounded fairly dramatic, with the former athlete revealing that, luckily, his wife’s friend was on hand "and recognized that we wouldn’t have got to hospital in time." After that, "it was run into the gym, get a mat, get into the bathroom, get a mat on the floor, towels down, ‘brace-brace-brace.’" The midwife hurried over, everybody got into position, and thankfully everything went smoothly.
The Tindalls are a normal family living in luxury
They might technically be royals, but the Tindalls are still a regular family underneath all the opulence. As Express noted, Zara Tindall and husband Mike, along with their three children, reside in the majestic Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire, which was part of a wedding gift from Queen Elizabeth to Princess Anne, who lives in Gatcombe House. The Tindalls occupy a cottage just a short walk away, with Zara’s older brother, Peter Phillips, also taking up residence on the grounds with his own family. During the COVID-19-necessitated lockdown, the Tindalls were spotted taking long walks in the lush surroundings of Gatcombe Park.
Likewise, in a People profile, it’s noted a young Prince William "rather liked the controlled chaos" of Gatcombe Park because it was so different to more formal areas, according to a former royal bodyguard, who described the Tindalls’ home as "a well lived-in place." The cozy farmhouse is more suited to Zara and Mike, who’d rather keep their children out of the spotlight and are often spotted getting groceries in local supermarket chain Waitrose or taking their kids to school, proving they have no airs about them.
Zara Tindall paid tribute to the late Prince Philip in a meaningful way
Naming their two daughters came relatively easily to Zara and Mike Tindall, but, when their little boy came along, the couple was stumped. The former rugby star admitted on his podcast, "The Good, The Bad & The Rugby," that they were struggling to find the right name for their son (via Hello! magazine). He even previously joked, in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, "We’re not sure what to do, Covi or Covina — I don’t know where to go with names." Eventually they settled on Lucas, meaning "light-giving."
Although it’s a lovely name, the child’s middle moniker was even more meaningful to the couple. As Today noted, both Zara and Princess Eugenie opted to pay tribute to their dearly departed grandfather, Prince Philip, following his death in April 2021 at the age of 99, by giving their firstborn sons his name. Zara named her boy Lucas Philip Tindall, while Eugenie called hers August Philip Hawke. Both women reportedly had a special bond with the beloved royal, so it makes complete sense they would choose his moniker as the middle name for their own boys.
Her engagement ring was super expensive
Although Zara Tindall prefers to keep a low profile, compared to much of the extended royal family, there are certain ways in which the queen’s granddaughter shows just how high class she actually is. Case in point: her engagement ring. As Hello! magazine reported, former rugby player Mike Tindall proposed in 2010, with a stunning rock that’s "both pretty and practical." The focal point of the beautiful piece is a solitaire diamond set on a split platinum band frosted with several more pavé-set diamonds. Mike himself actually designed the ring, keeping in mind that his soon-to-be wife would want to safely keep it on while competing in equestrian events.
Mike Fried, CEO of The Diamond Pro, estimated the piece of jewelry is worth around £140,000 (about $200,000), noting, "Zara’s ring is a beautiful mix of old-world tradition with a twist of modern design." He added, "Going with the round diamond and adding a split shank setting was a great way to add a touch of modern style to a royal engagement ring." Fried estimated the piece to be at least five carats. However, considering the owner, he reasoned it’s "priceless."