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Mike Tindall was suffering from heartache when he first met Zara

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King Charles III’s niece Zara Tindall and Mike announced their engagement 12 years ago and won over fans of the Royal Family with their low-key wedding in 2011. Their romance first began many years before when they met in Sydney, just after the former England rugby player received some devastating news.

Mike and Zara, who reportedly have a net worth of an estimated £30million, live on Zara’s mother Princess Anne’s Gatcombe estate and have three children together. 

But the besotted duo – who do not shy away from showing affection towards one another in public – first met in Australia during the Rugby World Cup in 2003. According to Zara they first met in a bar where Mike was drowning his sorrows after receiving some bad news.

The 41-year-old told Australia’s 60 Minutes programme in 2012 that she met her future husband when he was out having a drink with his teammates. 

He had been easing the disappointment of being dropped from the England squad before the semi-finals. She said it then “went from there”. 

But Mike told the Daily Mail in 2011 that it was Zara who had pursued him. He said: “She was on her gap year and in Australia with friends. Clive [Woodward, the coach] had just told me I was dropped for the semi-final, so I went out for a beer with two others who weren’t playing, Martin Corry and Austin Healey.

“Zara was in the same bar; we got introduced but didn’t speak that much. 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.’”

Mike then did text her and they began dating when they were back in the UK.

It was not just Mike that was going through a tough time when the pair met as she was struggling with the fact that her horse, Toytown, had been injured.

Zara had planned to ride the chestnut gelding in the 2008 Olympics held in Beijing. She told the Telegraph in 2013: “He met me just after I’d found out my horse had injured himself, so I was quite low and vulnerable… He understands the pressures, and vice versa, which obviously helps, but it actually started from becoming very good friends.”

Their relationship moved to the next level when Zara invited him to join her at the North Cotswold Ball. After dating for five months, Zara and Mike “officially” declared that they were in a relationship in April 2004.

Mike told the Daily Mail: “I think it was April 27—that would be the official date we said we were going to go out with each other.”

Things went quickly from there as the sportsman was introduced to Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips. 

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The Otley-born rugby star, who won 75 caps for England, said in 2008: “Zara’s mum is a legend and her father is lovely too. 

“My mates in Wakefield are forever asking how I fit in among the royal family but they are really down to earth.”

They tied the knot at Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirk on July 30, 2011, three months after Prince William and Kate, Princess of Wales wed. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip both travelled to Scotland for the big day. 

Zara’s father walked her down the aisle as she wore a stunning Stewart Parvin wedding dress and veil topped with the Greek ‘Key’ tiara, lent to her by Princess Anne.

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