Royal rebel and rugby star are like 'fire and ice'
England rugby hero Mike Tindall, who will enter Britain's royal family when he marries Zara Phillips on Saturday, admits the couple are like "fire and ice".
One could be forgiven for thinking the burly, broken-nosed, shaven-headed battler was the hothead and the regal horserider with delicate features would be the more cool and calm.
However, Tindall insists the reverse is true -- and Phillips, Queen Elizabeth II's grand-daughter and so-called "royal rebel", agrees with him.
"The fire and ice thing is true to a certain extent," he told Reader's Digest.
"Being angry doesn't come naturally to me. Zara isn't like that. Shell say how she feels and show her emotions."
Phillips is a driven character, having been told she would not be getting an easy ride in life by her no-nonsense mother Princess Anne, who stopped her and her brother Peter from having royal titles.
Phillips admitted in a BBC radio interview that while she was "obsessive" and busy about the house, Tindall was "very laid back... he's practically horizontal".
"He's quite good to live with as long as he's getting his food. He doesn't cook. I'm threatening to send him on cooking lessons," she added.
Some thought the relationship wouldn't work as their backgrounds are so different.
However, they found mutual understanding in being world-beating sports stars and knowing the sanctity of precious time away from the buzz and strains of top-level competition.
Tindall was part of England's victorious 2003 World Cup campaign in Australia, while Phillips won the individual gold at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.
"That's the way we like our lives. Low-key, with lots of sport and as much time together as possible," he said.
Phillips was born to the queen's only daughter and horseman Captain Mark Phillips, who won gold for Britain in the team three-day event at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The British press dubbed feisty Phillips a "royal rebel" after she had her tongue pierced as a teenager.
Tindall, from Yorkshire in northern England, is the son of a prison worker father, while his mother is a social worker. One of his first jobs was serving fish and chips.
However, his prominence in rugby brought him close to royal circles.
"To start with, people wondered whether our backgrounds were too different, but it's not a problem," Tindall said.
"I've been on the edge of her world all the time I've been playing rugby. I know (Princes) William and Harry because they are great England supporters, and I've played against Peter (who represented Scottish Schools).
"Zara's mum is patron of the Scottish Rugby Union so I've known her for years. They're good, fun people, all of them. They're just a normal family."
His parents were "unfazed" when he said he was going out with Phillips, who is 13th in line to the throne.
The couple met as he celebrated England's World Cup win in Sydney.
"They just want me to be happy. They can see I am, so they are not worried, plus they love Zara," the Gloucester skipper said.
Tindall's best man is Biarritz back Iain Balshaw, also part of England's World Cup-winning squad.
"It was quite early on that you could tell they were going to be together forever, he said.
"She's very happy with him and you can see they adore one another. He loves her for who she is, not what she is, and that's important to her."
© 2011 AFP