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Mike Tindall's frank confession about early marriage with Zara: 'It's not that easy'

The England rugby star discussed how his life changed after marrying Zara Tindall in 2011


Zara Phillips in a black dress with her hair up alongside Mike Tindall
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
17 April 2024
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Mike Tindall's identity shifted after he married into the royal family and retired from his successful rugby career.

The 45-year-old opened up about the early stages of his marriage with Zara Tindall following their wedding in 2011. While Mike has made it no secret that his relationship with Princess Anne's daughter is stronger than ever, he candidly said in the TV show Grand Slammers that it was not necessarily all "fine and dandy" becoming part of the British royal family.

Mike Tindall looking at his wife Zara Phillips on their wedding day© Jeff J Mitchell
Mike and Zara Tindall got married at Canongate Kirk in 2011

"Everyone thinks that just by marrying Zara that means it's all fine and dandy… But that doesn't stop the fact that you need a job," he said.

While he had previously focused all his energies on his sporting career, which included playing for England in the Rugby World Cup in 2003, Mike felt a little unsure about his future after he retired in 2014 – three years into his marriage.

Mike Tindall holding a rugby ball© Mike Hewitt
Mike Tindall retired from rugby in 2014

"And it's not that easy, you know - you get quite institutionalised into rugby, it's a way of life and you leave the game and that's not there.

"I don't think you can ever sort of describe when you're so used to being around that many people, and understanding, because of it being ingrained in you, where you fit in to then not being that person.

"Zara would say if she was honest it was probably a year it took me to figure out what I was, who I was going to be," he added.

Zara Tindall and Mike Tindall© Shutterstock
Mike and Zara met in Sydney in 2003

Mike has since become a player and coach for Minchinhampton RFC, and has thrown himself into his podcast The Good, The Bad & The Rugby alongside fellow England player James Haskell and broadcaster Alex Payne.

The dad-of-three also branched into the TV industry, becoming the first British royal family member to take part in I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in November 2022. During his appearance, he made a few sweet comments about his love story with Zara.

The couple first crossed paths at the Manly Wharf bar in Sydney during the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He recalled to his campmates: "I was at the World Cup, she was out watching. I got dropped from the semi-final," he said.

Mike Tindall and Mia, Lena and Lucas at Wellington International Horse Trials© Shutterstock
The couple share three children, Mia, Lena and Lucas

"I was [expletive] off and so I went for a beer with another guy who got dropped and a guy who was over [in Sydney]. They'd met her before and they introduced us and then got chatting from there."

Opening up about their "boozy" first date, he added: "First actual date, just went out for lunch locally. And ended up being quite a boozy one. Then we figured out that we both quite like getting smashed. It was a good start."

Mike was then gradually introduced to the royal family through lunches and watching rugby matches at home before he proposed to Zara in 2010.

SEE: Candid royal wedding photos! When Princess Charlotte, Prince Harry & more were caught off guard 

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