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 married 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, wed in a private ceremony at Edinburgh's Canongate Kirk attended by all the senior royals, including Prince William and Catherine, and some of the biggest names in English rugby.

But the wedding was a stark contrast to William's marriage to the former Kate Middleton on April 29 at Westminster Abbey, which was attended by 1,900 guests and watched on television by an estimated two billion people worldwide.

After a ceremony lasting about 45 minutes, Phillips, 30, and Tindall, 32, emerged into the sunshine and waved at the hundreds of well-wishers who gathered waving Union flags outside the church on Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile.

Phillips, a former equestrian eventing world champion, wore an ivory silk gown by British designer Stewart Parvin, a favourite of the queen, with a veil held in place with a tiara lent to her by her mother, Princess Anne.

The dress had straps over her shoulders and a subtle train, and the full skirt created a surprisingly traditional silhouette for the one-time 'royal rebel' who used to wear mini-skirts and low-cut tops and had her tongue pierced as a teenager.

Tindall, who played in England's 2003 World Cup-winning team and captained the side in their victorious 2011 Six Nations campaign, looked smart in a formal tailcoat and smiled broadly as he walked out with his new wife on his arm.

The queen wore an apricot wool coat also by Stewart Parvin, while the guests included her daughter Anne and son Prince Charles with their spouses, as well as William and Catherine, who drew the biggest cheers from the crowds.

William and his new bride, who wore a cream coat dress believed to have been recycled from a previous occasion, are expected to return to their home in north Wales soon after to spend some private time together.

Phillips is planning to keep her maiden name after the wedding, breaking royal tradition which dictates she would become Zara Tindall, because of the importance of her name to her sporting career and her sponsorship deals.

But she has always followed her own path, ever since her mother decided that she and her brother Peter should not have royal titles, nor should they carry out royal duties, in an attempt to live a normal life.

Phillips and Tindall have kept their relationship out of the spotlight, and when they got engaged in December, they posed for photos in jeans as they stood in the snow outside their regency townhouse in Cheltenham, southwest England.

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

Tindall was supported at the wedding by best man Iain Balshaw, his former Bath and England colleague who was sporting cuts on his left eye from a recent moped accident.

England rugby manager Martin Johnson and his predecessor, Clive Woodward, were also among the guests, as was former F1 racing champion Jackie Stewart, Phillips's godfather.

The reception afterwards was 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.

"I think it's really good that they've chosen Edinburgh to get married," said Mary, a 58-year-old Scottish woman among hundreds watching the guests arrive at the church. "I think she's just a really nice person and I think it's good that they've chosen something that suits them."

© 2011 AFP

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