Zara & Mike A perfect match
The Australian Women's Weekly|January 2020
Zara and Mike Tindall’s daughters are already horseriding and now the royal family’s most down-to-earth couple is bringing them Down Under for surf, barbies and a sizzling polo match, they tell Juliet Rieden.
Juliet Rieden

When Zara Tindall was pregnant with her first daughter, Mia, we talked about how she would fit motherhood around her decidedly unsocial schedule of competitive horseriding, which involved her travelling all over Britain and overseas, sleeping in her horse truck. “We’ll just carry on as normal,” she told me, explaining that eventing kids just have to fit in with their parents. After all, that’s what she did with her mum Princess Anne, Zara added.

That was five years ago and now I am back in her Aston Farm home, in the heart of Britain’s green and pleasant Cotswolds, and on the face of it not much has changed. Zara and husband Mike both have a full schedule of work commitments and they’re still laughing, joking and sparking off each other like comfortable romantics.

Outside, three of Zara’s horses – Cracker, Showtime and Socks (named for his four white socks) – are exercising in the stable yards and one-year-old boxer Blink is one of many family dogs running in and out. But hanging in the air around this energetic outdoor life, there’s definitely a warm glow of slightly frazzled domestic order. For it was just 18 months ago that Mia’s sister, Lena, arrived as the latest addition to the Tindall clan.

So, as I settle down to chat to Zara and Mike about their new world of parenting, I’m wondering how the ‘business as usual’ plan panned out.

Zara breaks into a broad smile. “I’m still eventing,” she says, laughing. And do the girls come with her? “Mia is at school so she can only come on weekends and it depends how far away it is, but yes, they’ve been to a few this year. It also depends on how many horses we’ve got with us. I think Mia just likes the camping – it’s probably more like glamping – in a truck. I don’t think she bothers about watching me too much.”

But while Zara is determined to stay very much in the saddle, she concedes it’s not quite been as easy as chucking the children in with the horses and driving off into the – more often than not, rain-soaked – great outdoors. And whether she brings her girls with her to competitions or leaves them at their home (which is down the road from her mum’s residence in Gatcombe Park) involves a lot of variables. “The logistics are much greater. You can’t just drop everything anymore. I do have to plan my season around the kids and what they’re up to.

“They’re very much part of our lives and what we do anyway. But I have to work out how to fit everything in. You look back and realise how much time you used to have before you had kids and then wonder, what was I doing with it? We make sure we’re looking after the kids properly and then our jobs come alongside. It’s about putting everything into place,” she explains.

Fortunately, so far Mia and Lena are loving their mother’s horsey life. “They both ride,” says Zara, looking rather pleased. “Lena is in a little basket on the saddle, purely a passenger. But we just bought Mia a new pony called Magic.”

“Should be called Magic Millions, right?” jokes Mike, name checking the Australian race carnival Zara has been the ambassador of since 2012 (which we’ll come to later).

I ask Mike if he thinks Mia is a chip off her mother’s equestrian block. “She can be,” he muses. “She’s going through that period where she thinks she knows what to do so we have someone teaching her. Her cousins, Savannah and Isla, and [their father] Zara’s brother, Peter Phillips, all ride as well and they go riding together.”

Zara is thrilled their girls are enjoying hanging out with the horses, but she also wants to make sure they find their own paths. “I love that they have the opportunity of working with animals, being outside, all the traditions that you learn with treating an animal – looking after your stuff, looking after the animals and learning good balance, all those skills you learn – but I think Mia will probably want to do her own thing anyway.”

Proud dad

Mike, who no longer plays rugby – he retired from the professional game in July 2014 – but is still heavily involved in the sport, is relishing the new pace of family life.

“I think it’s superb. Mia is a fantastic bundle of energy and that challenges you as well and keeps it interesting. Lena is just starting to find her feet, but we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. You hope that’s what kids do to you and it’s been great.”

The 1.87m burly Yorkshireman has now found himself in a house full of women and he couldn’t be happier. “Three female dogs [and] my three girls. Plus we have lots of girls on the yard working with Zara … at least I’ve got Pete, my brother-in-law. And Andy, who works on the farm as well,” he jokes.

Before Mia and Lena came along, Mike confesses he did think he might like a son, but now he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I was so happy with how Mia was as a girl that I wasn’t really bothered either way and when Lena was coming along I wasn’t bothered at all [about] what we got. I was just happy to be having another child,” he says.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S WEEKLYView All

Role model royals

As we celebrate William and Kate’s 10th wedding anniversary, Juliet Rieden asks: can the close-knit Cambridge five steady the royal ship with their duty, dignity and family values?

10+ mins read
The Australian Women's Weekly
April 2021

TOGETHER FOR CHANGE

As allegations of sexual assault and harassment swirl around our federal Parliament, Samantha Trenoweth sits down with some of the most powerful women in the land to consider the issues that have shaken the nation.

10+ mins read
The Australian Women's Weekly
April 2021

Remember the time

APRIL 1823: The first Sydney Royal Easter Show

1 min read
The Australian Women's Weekly
April 2021

“Finding my power” -Toni Pearen

Facing her demons (and a few snakes) in the jungle led to a personal and professional renaissance for Toni Pearen. Jenny Brown meets the former pop princess as she steps into a brave new life.

9 mins read
The Australian Women's Weekly
April 2021

“I was lost before Lauren”

It may seem a charmed life, but MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo has had serious lows with the highs. He tells Sue Smethurst how love saved him.

9 mins read
The Australian Women's Weekly
April 2021

Ray of hope

Nobody would consider the parents of children with cancer lucky, but for two families who were included in a ground-breaking Australian program to fight childhood cancers, lucky is exactly how they feel. Genevieve Gannon meets those families.

10+ mins read
The Australian Women's Weekly
April 2021

My story: My journey out of darkness

When screenwriter Kristen Dunphy checked herself into a psychiatric ward, her world was unbearably dark, but with pen and paper in hand, she found the glimmer of hope that carried her home.

6 mins read
The Australian Women's Weekly
April 2021

In the name of my daughter

When her 20-year-old daughter was brutally murdered in a Queensland hostel, Rosie Ayliffe needed answers. What she uncovered compelled her to launch a campaign to expose the dangers backpackers face in Australia, she tells Juliet Rieden.

10+ mins read
The Australian Women's Weekly
April 2021

How to MAX your morning RITUALS

In our quest for the best possible wake-up and start to our day, we need a multisensory approach that draws us out of slumber and kickstarts our body clock. Here, Russell Jones, author of Sense, shares simple ways to feel good.

4 mins read
The Australian Women's Weekly
April 2021

Best friends forever

A trip down memory lane makes the perfect birthday gift for a much loved childhood friend.

3 mins read
The Australian Women's Weekly
April 2021
RELATED STORIES

Plini – Voices in The Sky

PLINI — the guy Steve Vai once called “the future of exceptional guitar playing” — discusses the perils of “guitar fame,” the challenges of a modern prog-rocker and his breathtaking new album, Impulse Voices

9 mins read
Guitar World
April 2021

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

The usurper has come

3 mins read
Maximum PC
April 2021

SUZI QUATRO IS BACK!

WITH A NEW ALBUM, THE DEVIL IN ME, THIS PIONEERING FEMALE ROCKER REMAINS AS DRIVEN AND DETERMINED AS EVER

8 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

BE SQUIRRELY

Giant squirrels, giant lessons? Animal chaplain SARAH BOWEN explores what squirrels can show us about mindfulness.

4 mins read
Spirituality & Health
Mar/Apr 2021

THE BIKER WITH A BIG HEART

Her son’s organ donation saved his life. So he rode 1,426 miles to meet her.

10+ mins read
Reader's Digest US
April 2021

THE HORSE MEAT VIGILANTE

In a fetid Florida backwater, butchers operate black-market equine slaughterhouses. One man is determined to end the trade

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
March 22, 2021

Scott's MID-LIFE MAKEOVER!

AFTER HIS SPLIT FROM 22-YEAR-OLD SOFIA RICHIE, SCOTT DISICK GOES INSTA OFFICIAL WITH HIS NEW MODEL — AND A NEW ’DO.

1 min read
Star
March 08, 2021

MIKE MANNING OUT AT DAYS

Charlie’s death by an unknown assailant spells the end of Mike Manning’s run in Salem. “When I was hired, I knew that the contract had an end to it,” shares the actor, who admits he initially had no clue about how that exit would come about. “I didn’t know that Charlie’s storyline got this dark but I did know that at some point, Charlie was going to leave the show, whether it be put in jail or getting killed or running away.”

5 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
March 08, 2021

A NEW KING

1952 TOPPS MICKEY MANTLE SELLS FOR $5.2 MILLION – HIGHEST EVER FOR A BASEBALL CARD

1 min read
Sports Card Monthly
March 2021

SPYKE AND MIKE

The past holiday season has been tough for Mike my BTR friends. Between covid and some unusual circumstances regarding his healing, his addiction has reappeared it’s ugly head.

4 mins read
Born To Ride Florida
February 2021