Our Royal Olympian is back in the saddle
At least eight people – assistants, photographers and PRs – are clustered together in Zara Phillips’s sunny stable yard in Gatcombe Park, Gloucestershire, watching one man manoeuvre a muddy black Land Rover. He reverses it over the same spot of gravel four times until all agree that the car (which, in accordance with Zara’s role as brand ambassador must appear in photos with her) is deemed to be positioned at an acceptable angle for pictures.
The element of farce steps up a little when Zara herself arrives with her dogs, looking casual in jeans, trainers, a zipped-up fleece and a cap she wants to keep on because her hair isn’t clean.
“I’d have washed the car if I’d known,” she says, only to be met with a chorus of protests – no, Land Rover’s people say, they want the car to be dirty because the effect is more real. Zara looks as bemused as the rest of us but says no more.
Evidently she has long stopped trying to understand the logic behind publicity antics of this kind. Indeed, although Zara, who married the recently retired rugby player Mike Tindall in 2011, is relaxed and professional in front of the cameras and polite and friendly to all, there are elements of her mother Princess Anne’s impatience in the occasional eye roll she gives as she’s prodded through the day’s schedule. No doubt she’d rather be getting on with her day job.
Before my interview, I am warned that Zara will likely avoid questions about her seven-month-old daughter Mia, preferring to discuss her horses and return to her eventing career instead.
This seems fair enough. The Queen’s granddaughter