Zara Phillips, this afternoon – grand-daughter of the Queen, cousin of the Duke of Cambridge and niece of the Prince of Wales – will wed her rugby-playing boyfriend, Mike Tindall. They travelled from their home in Cheltenham to Edinburgh yesterday, to be married by the Rev Neil Gardner, minister of Canongate Kirk and domestic chaplain to the Queen in Scotland. Afterwards, they will celebrate with a reception at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Not that you’d know it.
While the world and its dog knew every detail of the royal wedding – you know, that one, at Westminster Abbey, with the cartwheeling verger and the sister with the bottom – it seems as if this one could pass off without so much as a street party. There will be no need to erect a giant box to accommodate the world’s media, as happened outside Buckingham Palace last April. There will be no bank holiday, and barely any squealing monarchists who have camped out all week to catch a fleeting glimpse of the newly married couple – they can’t, because the streets surrounding the church are too narrow. Granted, a ring of steel will be thrown around the city, but one would expect that at an event attended by the Queen (and the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, stepping out in public for the first time since their triumphant tour of North America).
Mr Tindall, who plays rugby for England and is the captain of Gloucester, is thought to be wearing a kilt. But even the news that Zara is to wear a gown designed by Stewart Parvin, one of the Queen’s favourite couturiers, barely registered on the radar of journalists who salivated over every rumour concerning what Kate Middleton might wear, before combusting in excitement when we finally saw it was Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.
Zara has been able to go for jogs and facials relatively unmolested by paparazzi. This week she was photographed near her home wearing a tracksuit, a garment that would have caused the world to topple off its axis had it been worn by the Duchess of Cambridge in the run-up to her wedding.
England captain Lewis Moody revealed Zara’s training ban at a charity event in aid of HopeHiv on Thursday. At the fundraiser, called An Evening with Lewis, Simon, Jamie and Ben, Lewis said: “Mike didn’t play today – he’s afraid he’s going to get a black eye for the wedding. The missus is in charge.”
He added: “There’ll be loads of us going to the wedding. ”
Players from England and Gloucester Rugby Club will be mingling with royal guests, including Prince William and Kate, Prince Harry and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Then it’s all back to the Queen’s Holyroodhouse for a party. But for the bride-to-be, the celebrations started three days ago. Zara, who will wear a stunning Stewart Parvin ivory dress, was spotted clubbing at Edinburgh’s swanky Tigerlily hotel and later in its Lulu bar, on Thursday.
She followed it up with a boozy three-hour breakfast with 10 female friends in the five-star Balmoral Hotel, where 300 of the 400 wedding guests are staying.
Zara’s group – including Natalie Pinkham, Sky Sports presenter Di Dougherty and brother Peter’s wife Autumn Kelly – sank six bottles of £95-a-pop pink champagne. She told them: “I’m nervous, excited but very happy.” She also admitted she’d been texting Mike that very morning as he celebrated with his rugby pals including Lewis, Iain and Ben Foden.
In the early evening they met up for their dressed-down wedding rehearsal – Zara in jeans and a striped top, Mike, 32, in a white shirt and torn denims.
They kissed after spending an hour in the Kirk being put through their paces by Rev Neil Gardner, watched by Princess Anne and her husband Tim Lawrence, and Zara’s father Mark Phillips.
Then last night, Zara and Mike held a drinks party on the Royal Yacht Britannia, moored at nearby Leith. Close friends and family – including Prince William and Kate, who wore the emerald number first seen on her trip to LA earlier this month – saw the sun set to the strains of a jazz band.