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Mike and Zara Tindall reveal why they love Australia's 'vibe' during romantic return without children

The couple met Down Under two decades ago

Mike and Zara Tindall at the Magic Millions
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Back where their love story began 20 years ago, Zara and Mike Tindall look closer than ever as they cuddle up in the Australian sunshine. Putting aside their busy family life for a few days, the couple made the most of their working trip as they escaped the harsh British winter. 

Zara, 42, and Mike, 45, left their three children at home in Gloucestershire to fly Down Under for the Star Gold Coast Magic Millions Carnival, the equestrian festival she has served as ambassador of for the past 12 years. As well as competing in a showjumping event, playing in a polo match and galloping down the long, sandy beach at Surfer's Paradise, Zara also enjoyed some much-needed couple time with her husband, including lunch dates and ocean dips.

Mike and Zara Tindall at the Magic Millions
Mike and Zara Tindall attend the Star Gold Coast Magic Millions Carnival, of which Zara is an ambassador

In this exclusive interview, Zara tells HELLO! that her annual visit to Queensland has made Australia feel like a "second home" and gives her and Mike, who appeared in the 2022 series of I'm A Celebrity .. Get Me Out of Here a chance to escape the bleak winter back in the UK, where they share a home on her mother the Princess Royal's Gloucestershire estate Gatcombe Park. 

"Mike and I both love the vibe and personality of Australia," Zara says. "It really suits us with the outdoor lifestyle and everything that comes with it. What is not to love about being here? It feels busy but being by the beach and in the middle of summer is also relaxing, especially coming from the depths of our winter right now back home. We have always had a love for Australia and look forward to coming here. It is a second home to us but wouldn't move here as it's too far from family, but we will continue to get down as much as we can and enjoy it while we are here.

"I do like to be able to get out the summer wardrobe in the middle of our winter – that is a definite bonus," adds Zara, who stepped out in Aussie labels Zimmerman, Rebecca Vallance and Leo Lin.

Zara says she was thrilled to take part in the Pacific Fair Magic Millions Polo and Showjumping and to play alongside Argentinian polo star Nacho Figueras – a close friend of the Duke of Sussex – and his wife Delfina Blaquier, fellow ambassadors for the Australian thoroughbred auction house.

"It's always a great fun match with the other ambassadors, and with Mike alongside the field helping out on the commentary team, it is so much fun," she says. "The exhibition horse run down the Surfers Paradise foreshore is a real highlight. Those are the photos that really show off the Magic Millions carnival across the world, the real magic of what it is like here and how amazing it is." 

Zara and Mike Tindall at the Magic Millions Polo and Showjumping© Luke Marsden
The couple's love story began 20 years ago

Zara says she's proud to be Ambassador for Magic Millions Racing Women, which promotes female racehorse ownership. 

"This year, for the first time, we also celebrated the Magic Millions Racing Women Awards to further celebrate the incredible work women are doing in this multifaceted industry. I was lucky enough to be on the judging panel for that and feel very privileged to be able to play a very small part in the progression of woman in this sport," says Zara, who was invited to be an ambassador by Katie Page, who co-owns Magic Millions with her husband Gerry Harvey. "Championing women, paving the way in the sport of racing, by offering bonus prizemoney for all female owned horses was the first concept of its kind, and it has grown so much.  I am really happy to be part of this growing movement and hope that we can continue to develop it."

Zara, who was part of the silver medal winning three-day eventing team at the London 2012 Olympic Games, also competed in the Queensland Off the Track showjumping event, which features ex-racehorses – a transition she supports as patron of UK charity Retraining Racehorses, which helps retired horses into showjumping and other equestrian sports. 

"Retraining of Racehorses is something I am really invested in," she says. "Life after racing is an important consideration for these incredibly intelligent and capable animals."

Zara and Mike Tindall ahead of the Magic Millions Polo and Showjumping© Luke Marsden
"Mike and I both love the vibe and personality of Australia," Zara says

During their stay, Zara and Mike joined Nacho and Delfina for a day out at Byron Bay, a beach resort an hour south of the Gold Coast and had lunch with Australian actor Chris Hemsworth and his Spanish wife Elsa Pataky, who have a house in the area. 

The trip Down Under is sure to have brought back happy memories for the couple, who met in Sydney during the 2003 Rugby World Cup while Mike was playing for the winning England team and Zara was on a gap year and visiting with her cousin Prince Harry. Mike has told how their paths crossed while he was in a bar with teammates Martin Correy and Austin Healey after being dropped from the semi-final. 

"Later on, Austin gave me her number and said, 'She wants you to text her, to say where you're all going out after the final so she can come along," he told a newspaper in 2011. "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." 

While the couple enjoyed a shared sense of fun and adventure, they also bonded over being at the top of their game in their respective sports. 

"He understands the pressures and vice versa, which obviously helps, but it actually started from becoming very good friends," Zara later explained.  

Mike, a down-to-earth Yorkshireman who went to a state grammar school, quicky won the hearts of Zara's family too, including her mother Anne and ger grandmother, the late Elizabeth 11.

Mike and Zara Tindall at the Magic Millions
The royals enjoyed some much-needed couple time, including date nights and ocean dips

"Zara's mum is a legend and her father is lovely too," he once said. "My mates in Wakefield are forever asking how I fit in among the royal family, but they are really down to earth."

The couple married in July 2011 at Canongate Kirk on Edinburgh's Royal Mile and are now hands-on parents to Mia Grace, who turns 10 this week (17 Jan), Lena, five, and two-year-old Lucas and the lively children have been spotted larking around with Mike at equestrian events. He admits that parenthood came as a "massive shock" and changed his relationship with Zara. The couple also suffered the heartbreak of two miscarriages.

"A marriage or long-term relationship can't always be roses and rainbows," he said in 2021. "When you have children, that is a massive shock, change to your system that you've never experienced, and there is going to be those rocky roads. There are things that are thrown at you that have to test both of you and that will test that relationship. The thing is no one is right, no one is wrong. You have to work through it together."


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