Zara and rugby star marry in Britain's second royal wedding

30th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Queen Elizabeth II's eldest granddaughter Zara Phillips marries England rugby star Mike Tindall on Saturday, in a low-key event far removed from the spectacle of this year's other British royal wedding.

The couple, both world-beating sports stars, tie the knot at Edinburgh's Canongate Kirk in a private ceremony mid-afternoon that has little in common with that of Phillips' cousin, Prince William, when he married the former Kate Middleton three months ago.

All the senior royals, including William and Catherine, are expected but the kirk holds only 400 people -- compared with the 1,900 who filled Westminster Abbey for the April 29 service, which was watched by two billion viewers worldwide.

The reception will be held at the nearby Palace of Holyroodhouse, the queen's official residence in Scotland, although the party started early with a drinks reception on Friday night on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Phillips, 30, is the younger child of the queen's only daughter Princess Anne and 13th in line to the throne.

But her parents decided that she and her brother Peter would not have titles in an effort to give them a normal life -- and that is what Phillips and Tindall, 32, have tried to do, when the pressures of their careers allow it.

She is a former equestrian eventing world champion, while Tindall played in England's 2003 World Cup-winning team and captained the side in their victorious 2011 Six Nations campaign.

The pair met in 2003 in Sydney, as the England squad celebrated winning the World Cup. Tindall, the jovial, broken-nosed Gloucester captain, claims it was his "pure charm" that won her heart.

The couple now live in a regency townhouse in Cheltenham, southwest England, and have largely kept their relationship out of the spotlight.

During a two-hour party on Friday, Phillips, wearing a white one-shoulder dress with a blue print design, and Tindall mingled with guests on deck of the ship as a live band played and waiters served champagne and canapes.

Catherine, wearing a mid-length green dress, attended with William and her brother-in-law Prince Harry, although there was no sign of the queen, her husband Prince Philip or William's father Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.

Although it has failed to garner the same global interest as April's wedding, the prospect of all the British royals in town drew several hundred wellwishers to the Canongate Kirk on Edinburgh's Royal Mile on Saturday.

"I want to see the royals. I think Zara is a really nice girl, not posh. She is just down to earth," said Trish, a 59-year-old Scottish woman, waiting behind a barrier on the short road that leads from the Kirk to the reception venue.

About 30 people camped out overnight for a good view, including Margaret Kittle, a 76-year-old from Ontario in Canada.

"I flew over last Saturday and have been here since last night," said Kittle, wearing a Canada hat. "I started following the royals after I saw George VI and the Queen back home in Canada when I was four-years-old."

Phillips and Tindall attended a final run-through of the service on Friday afternoon at the 321-year-old kirk, which has a light interior, white walls and unusual pale blue pews.

Both dressed in jeans, they spent about 50 minutes inside with the Reverend Neil Gardner, who will conduct the ceremony, and Tindall's best man, Iain Balshaw, his former Bath and England colleague.

They ended with a brief kiss outside the church to the delight of the crowd.

"I think it's really good that they've chosen Edinburgh to get married," said Mary, one of the well-wishers outside the kirk on Saturday. "And I think it's good that they've chosen something that suits them."

© 2011 AFP

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