I’ve always admired Zara Phillips as much as I do her mother, The Princess Royal, who refused titles for both her children when they were born so that they could live as normal lives as possible.
Because of that, both Phillips and her older brother, Peter, have carved out lucrative careers as private citizens. They are, however, still in line to the throne as grandchildren of the Queen; Peter is 12th and Zara is 15th.
Both siblings enjoy a close relationship with their mother, their maternal grandparents and the Wales brothers; Peter was with the boys at Balmoral when their mother passed away in August 1997.
In fact, Princess Anne once revealed that it was her older brother, Prince Charles, who named his first-born niece.
“The baby made a rather sudden and positive arrival,” Anne had said, according to HELLO!. “And my brother thought Zara (a Greek name meaning ‘bright as the dawn’) was an appropriate name.”
An accomplished rider, Phillips won silver at the 2012 London Olympics, and was named BBC’s Sports Personality Of The Year in 2006 (her mother won the same award in 1971). As Phillips – who married rugby player Mike Tindall in July 2011 and gave birth to her first child, Mia, in January 2014 – prepares to qualify for Rio 2016, she spoke to the Financial Times about getting back in the saddle, so to speak.
“I’m sorry for being late but I had to feed my daughter,” she explained to Jeremy Taylor, who conducted the interview on her mother’s Gatcombe Park estate. “We don’t have a full-time nanny and Mia comes first.”
Since the birth sidelined her riding, Phillips admitted that getting back to the level of fitness she’s used to has been a challenge. She swims and rides her bike daily, but she hasn’t found it that easy to bounce back.
“I also try to work out on an exercise bike first thing in the morning. What surprised me about having a baby is losing all your fitness and how tough it is to get it back.”
Motherhood, though, has changed the athlete a bit.
“I don’t know whether being a mum has made me any more cautious. What it does do is put things in perspective. If I have a bad day riding, it doesn’t matter now as much as it used to.”
Zara’s Guide To Properly Riding A Horse:
1. “It’s a common mistake but being hunched on a horse means you can’t balance properly. That means you are probably gripping too tight with your legs to compensate for not feeling stable. Clenching the horse makes your body tense and can send the wrong signal. It can really confuse your animal.”
2. “You want to be sure you don’t ram your feet too far into the stirrups, which can be dangerous if you need to get off quickly. Just the ball of your foot should be resting on the metal.”
Hurrah! One is feeling confident to finally get on a horse for the very first time.