For the second time in a year the royal family dusted off their gladrags to watch one of their own marry a commoner, albeit this time of sporting heroic stock.
But all eyes were on the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips when she arrived at Canongate Kirk on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile for her marriage to the England rugby player Mike Tindall.
The Edinburgh weather was uncharacteristically kind to the wedding party that gathered outside the 17th-century Canongate Kirk on the cobbled Royal Mile from 1pm on Saturday. There was brilliant sunshine and forecast showers failed to materialise.
Zara Phillips, 30, who is 13th in line to the throne but does not use a royal title, and Mike Tindall, 32, were greeted by hundreds of flag-waving well-wishers and the sound of traditional bagpipes as they left their wedding service at Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirk following a private ceremony.
Zara Phillips is known better for her sporting achievements than her royal heritage, as a world class equestrian who is likely to compete in the 2012 Olympics.
Tindall — who Phillips met in 2003 in Australia during England’s triumphant Rugby World Cup campaign — is a leading rugby player who has captained his country.
Like her mother, who represented Britain in the 1976 Olympics, Phillips has enjoyed a successful horse riding career. In 2006, she won an individual gold on her horse Toytown at the World Equestrian Games in Germany, helped Britain win a team silver and was voted BBC sports personality of the year.
Tindall is also a well-known sportsman — he has played more than 60 times for England and was part of the England team which beat Australia to win rugby union’s World Cup in 2003.
The Queen’s granddaughter wore a stunning ivory gown, by the designer Stewart Parvin, with a full cathedral-length silk tulle veil and flowers by the London florist Paul Thomas. Her shoes were from Jimmy Choo.
Among the first to arrive at the ceremony were Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, followed by Prince Andrew and his daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
They were all cheered by the waiting crowds as they emerged from their cars, but the loudest roar was reserved for Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Prince Harry. As William and the former Kate Middleton walked into the church they acknowledged the crowd with a brief wave.
The last of the senior royals to arrive were Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who again were cheered loudly by the thousands camped behind crash barriers.
Waiting at the kirk was a jovial Mike Tindall, surrounded by many of his rugby peers, including his best man Iain Balshaw; Martin Johnson, the England team manager; and Sir Clive Woodward, the latter’s predecessor.
Other well-known sporting faces included Austin Healey, Jonny Wilkinson, Amy Williams – the gold-medal winning skeleton racer – AP McCoy, Ben Youngs and Miss Phillips’s godfather Sir Jackie Stewart.
Other guests included Una Healy from The Saturdays, TV presenter Natalie Pinkham, and Katherine Kelly, known for her role in ITV’sCoronation Street, but who knows Mr Tindall from when they were at school together in Wakefield.
The Queen arrived just ahead of the bride; she was wearing a smart, apricot ensemble, also from the designer Stewart Parvin, with a matching straw hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan. She was welcomed with a simple tune on the bagpipes by the Queen’s piper, Pipe Major Derek Potter.
Unlike William and Kate Middleton’s ceremony in April, the service was not broadcast on television, and crowds gathering in Edinburgh were told by police there would be little for them to see. However, the prospect of a brief glimpse of the royal family was enough to entice hundreds to Scotland, including a few dozen people who camped overnight to win a front row view. [via Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffpost and Guardian]