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Friday, July 29, 2011

Zara? He'd be happy if she worked as a Tesco checkout girl, says Mike Tindall's mum ahead of wedding

-Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall set to wed this Saturday in Edinburgh

By Rebecca English and Rebecca Evans

The mother of England rugby star Mike Tindall has said her son is so in love that he wouldn't mind if his royal fiancée 'worked at a Tesco checkout'.

Proud Linda Tindall described Princess Anne's daughter Zara Phillips, who is 13th in line to the throne, as 'a lovely girl' and 'perfect' for her boy.

With just two days to go before the couple's long-awaited wedding, the down-to-earth Yorkshirewoman said of the Queen's grand-daughter: 'He has a lovely girl, Zara is perfect for Mike.

Happily in love: Zara Phillips and her fiance Mike Tindall at their Gloucestershire home, after they announced their engagement

'When we met Zara we noticed she is just so nice and ordinary.

'Many-a-time Mike has said if she worked at Tesco at the checkout it would not matter, it's about her and the sort of person she is.'

Social worker Linda and her husband, Phil, live in a modest but immaculate detached house in the village of Crigglestone near Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Mike's father was forced to quit his job as a bank official four years ago after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He hated retirement, however, and now works as the finance officer at Wakefield's New Hall prison.

Unlike the family of Kate Middleton, who refused to publicly speak about their daughter's wedding to Prince William in April, outside of a brief statement, Mrs Tindall was happy to chat yesterday ahead of her son's wedding on Saturday in Edinburgh.

The England captain has been dating world champion equestrian Zara, 30, for seven years and the couple currently share an £800,000 townhouse together in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

'We're looking forward to it, of course. We're very pleased they've finally decided to get married,' Mrs Tindall, 63, said.

'We have not met the Queen before but we've obviously met her parents. [Princess] Anne and Mark [Phillips, her ex-husband] were most welcoming and kind.

'We have met Princes William and Harry because they are fans of rugby. They sometimes come to parties that Mike's had, like his 30th birthday. They're very down to earth. But we haven't met any of the other Royal Family.

'We have always followed Mike's career and when he started to see Zara we started supporting her career too.

'In the closed season if he was going to support her in a three-day event, we would often go down to support her as well.

'We were at Aachen when she won the World Championships and have seen her lose and win the World Title.'

Mrs Tindall said that although the pair come from very different backgrounds, they share a stable upbringing which will bode well for their future.

The mother-of-two said: 'I think the stability and security has given Mike very strong family values, something I think we share with Zara's family.

'Mike's has now grown up into a well-balanced, thoughtful and caring young man. He has a lovely girl, Zara is perfect for Mike.'

High security: Police stand at the gates of Canongate Kirk as preparations are made for Mike and Zara's wedding. The Queen's granddaughter will marry the England rugby star this Saturday

Lots to do: A police officer stands outside Canongate Kirk, while a workman carries in the base for a floral feature. Zara has chosen a white and cream colour scheme for the wedding

As mother of the groom, Mrs Tindall said she had not been terribly involved in the wedding arrangements, although she and her husband have contributed to the cost of the big day, and were looking forward to it tremendously.

'On his side it's mostly rugby players. And on her side, apart from the family, it's mostly showjumpers and equestrian eventers,' she revealed.

'We've got to know a lot of them by now - he's been playing rugby for a long time, and they've been seeing each other for eight years, so we've had lots of time to get to know them all.

'Apart from that I can't tell you anything about the arrangements, because we haven't really been involved. I really don't know an awful lot about it.

'We haven't seen as much of them recently as we normally would - Phil's slipped a disc in his back doing the gardening so we haven't been down to see them.

'And they haven't been up because Mike's training with England and Zara has been trying to get her horse through trials.

'So we haven't seen them for quite a while - but we'll see them on Saturday, God willing.'

Hard work: Workers bring more plants and display bases into the chapel. The 17th century church will be transformed into a woodland fairytale setting fit for a Royal Wedding

For both families, Saturday's ceremony will represent their second big wedding of the year.

Mike's brother Ian married his fiancée in May, only weeks after Zara's cousin Prince William was wed at Westminster Abbey.

Linda said: 'Ian only got married 10 weeks ago, so we'll have had two quite different experiences this summer.

'With Ian's we were a bit more involved with the organising than we have been this time.

'We're looking forward to the wedding, I think it's going to be really special.
'I don't want it too hot. But it would be nice if it wasn't a wash-out.'

Luxury: Workers decorate the inside of Canongate Kirk with bases for floral displays. The chapel has been decked out with white roses and beech tree branches to create a scented display of foliage and flora

As she spoke it was pouring in Scotland but fortunately the weather forecast is for sunny spells on Saturday.

And staff were busy preparing for the big day despite the inclement conditions, transforming the 17th century church where Zara and Mike will marry into a woodland fairytale fit for a royal wedding yesterday.

Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh has been decked out with more than 400 white roses and hundreds of beech tree branches to create a scented display of foliage and flora.

Under heavy police guard, florists transported dozens of white stocks, white carnations and white stargazer lilies into the chapel, along with small box trees and ivy.

The flowers and branches will be displayed in four large tiered wire stands and four plastic grey-coloured Grecian urns.

The use of trees is similar to the 'living avenue' of English maple and hornbeam trees created inside Westminster Abbey for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Zara has also opted for a similar colour scheme to the Abbey, which was bedecked with swathes of cream and white flowers.

Vigilant: A police officer patrols the aisle of the chapel as workmen make sure that everything is in place for the happy day this Saturday. Police were also checking around Holyroodhouse, the Queen's Scottish residence

Meanwhile, police continued to carry out vigilant security checks around the church and Holyroodhouse Palace, the Queen's official residence in Scotland and the venue for her grand-daughter's reception.

Officers are conducting regular security sweeps of drain and manhole covers around the Royal Mile, along with the fleet of seven Jaguars – six black and one white - which will be used to transport the Royal party the short distance from the palace to the church.

The Mail can also reveal that Mike will spend just a matter of hours with his new bride before returning to Surrey to train with the England ruby team on Sunday night.

Sources close to the team have revealed that he is due back at the team hotel, Pennyhill Park near Bagshot, ready to start training first thing on Monday morning.

The team have a World Cup warm-up match against Wales at Twickenham on August 6.

Said a source: 'Mike has suffered from injuries this year and is fighting tooth and nail for his place in the team. He can't afford to miss a minute of his training if he is to prove himself fit and will be back with us on Sunday night.

'It sounds a little harsh making him leave his new wife so soon, but fortunately Zara is a professional sportswoman and understands the score.'



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