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“She was on her gap year and in Australia with friends. Clive [Woodward, my 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,” the retired rugby player told the Daily Mail in June 2011. “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.’ Aussie’s going to love me saying this — he’ll take credit for us meeting.”
Mike messaged the equestrian the next day — and their romance took off.
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“We still like going out and having a good time. We just do it in the right way, where it’s not in the media. If you live in London and go out in London it’s all over the papers,” he told the Daily Mail at the time. “You can still go out and have a good time in Cheltenham. We keep ourselves to ourselves now.”
The former rugby union player went on to pop the question to the Olympian — whom the Princess Royal shares with ex-husband Captain Mark Phillips, alongside son Peter Phillips — in December 2010. They wed one year later at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland.
While navigating married life, Zara and Mike have also expanded their family, welcoming daughters Mia and Lena in 2014 and 2018, respectively. The pair’s third child, son Lucas, eventually followed in June 2021.
“A little baby boy arrived at my house,” Mike announced Lucas’ arrival during an episode of his “The Good, the Bad and the Rugby” podcast several weeks later, adding his wife had a “chaotic” labor. “It was running to the gym, get a mat, get into the bathroom, get a mat on the floor, towels down. Fortunately, the midwife, who was going to meet us at the hospital, wasn’t that far away. She drove up, got there just as we’d assumed the [position]. And then the second midwife arrived just after the head had arrived.”
He continued at the time: “[Zara] was a warrior as always. She was back up. We went for a walk [the next] morning with him. All good.”
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While raising their royal brood, Zara and Mike have navigated both ups and downs in their marriage.
“A marriage or long-term relationship can’t always be roses and rainbows,” the rugby coach said during a November 2021 appearance on the U.K.’s Loose Women. “When you have children, that is a massive shock, change to your system that you’ve never experienced and there is going to be those rocky roads. There are things that are thrown at you that have to test both of you and that will test that relationship. The thing is no one is right, no one is wrong. You have to work through it together.”
He added: “The thing is no one’s right, no one’s wrong, you have to work through it together. She’ll stay angry whereas I can have a full barney and, because of rugby, I can have a full barney at someone when they’ve done it wrong and then I can [say], ‘Shall we have a hug?’”
Scroll below to revisit the royal couple’s complete relationship timeline:
Mike joined the cast of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, a U.K. reality TV competition. In between taking on various challenges with his campmates, Mike revealed the sweet advice that Zara gave him before arriving.
“Zara told me to go and be myself, which is all you can be. She said to go enjoy and be yourself,” he recalled in a November episode. “Zara’s biggest worry is how loud I am when I eat. She will be very happy if someone comments about how loud I breathe when I eat because it’s always a point that she brings up.”
He added: “Zara gets it and supports it – with both our careers, she goes away competing for weeks at a time and I always went on tours for three, four weeks in the summer, so our relationship has always been built to deal with that and we’re good at compartmentalizing and finding ways to deal with it.”