Prince William and Kate Middleton will soon have company on the royal wedding calendar. Buckingham Palace announced on Tuesday that Zara Phillips, Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest granddaughter, is engaged.
Phillips, an accomplished equestrian, said she was shocked but “very happy” that her rugby-playing boyfriend Mike Tindall had proposed.
No date has been set yet. Phillips is close friends with her cousin, Prince William, who plans to marry Middleton at Westminster Abbey on April 29. Their engagement was announced last month.
Phillips, 29, is 12th in line to the throne.
The 32-year-old Tindall has played 66 times for England and was in the team that won the 2003 World Cup. It was during the tournament that he first met Phillips in a Sydney bar. Tindall plays for club side Gloucester and is still a regular in the national side.
The palace said in a statement that the couple got engaged on Monday evening at their home in western England.
In a statement, Phillips said she was “really shocked when Mike proposed but I am very happy.”
Tindall said: “I am delighted that Zara has agreed to marry me. We are both very excited about the next stage of our lives together.”
Buckingham Palace said the queen and her husband Prince Philip “are delighted with the news.”
Phillips, the daughter of Princess Anne, has won medals in world equestrian championships and was once voted BBC sports personality of the year - as was her mother, who shares her loves of horses.
She was due to compete at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but pulled out of the competition because of an injury to her horse.
The marriage between Princess Anne and Phillips’ father, Mark Phillips, ended in divorce in 1992. Princess Anne has since remarried.
Zara Phillips and her older brother Peter are among the most low-profile members of the royal family, and the only ones among the queen’s eight grandchildren not to hold royal titles. Princess Anne turned down her mother’s offer of the honours for her children.
As soon as the engagement was announced, bookies began taking bets on the date and venue.
August was the early favourite, with St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle the odds-on venue. Zara’s brother, Peter, married his wife Autumn there two years ago.