Zara Phillips has given birth to a baby girl at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, her husband Mike Tindall was present at the birth. The weight of the baby was 7lbs 12oz, Buckingham Palace announced today.
Zara's pregnancy was confirmed by the Palace in July, just a few weeks before the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby son Prince George.
The silver medal-winning Olympian, who is one of Britain’s leading equestrian riders, took a tumble while competing at the Barbury International Eventing and Show in Marlborough, Wiltshire, a few days before her pregnancy became public knowledge.
But she was described as ”fine” by a spokeswoman for Juniper Sport, a PR and sports agency that represents her.
Zara won a silver medal at London 2012 with eventing equestrian teammates William Fox-Pitt, Mary King, Tina Cook and Nicola Wilson, and is planning to take part in the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.
She married former rugby international Tindall in July 2011 in a ceremony staged in Edinburgh and attended by the Queen and senior royals.
The baby follows Zara’s brother Peter Phillips’ two children and Prince George to become the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s fourth great grandchild.
The latest addition to the Royal Family will be known as plain Miss Tindall and the new parents are hoping their laid-back approach to life will rub off on their first born daughter.
Ahead of the birth, they were interviewed by Australian Women’s Weekly, with Tindall saying: “I think we’re both quite well-balanced and laid-back as a couple, so hopefully he or she will pick up on that.”
Zara added: “I hope we’re going to make good parents. That’s the plan.”
The couple wanted a surprise and did not find out the sex beforehand.
The new baby will be a future playmate for her second cousin, six- month-old Prince George of Cambridge – to whom Zara is a godmother. The baby also has two first cousins on the royal side of the family – Peter and Autumn Phillips’ daughters Savannah and Isla.
Sixteenth in line to the throne, her arrival means that the Queen’s nephew Viscount Linley shifts down one place in the line of succession to 17th.
News that Zara, the Queen’s eldest granddaughter, was pregnant was announced by Buckingham Palace in July as the nation awaited the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby.
At the time, Tindall took to Twitter to express his delight, joking that he hoped their child would not inherit his nose, which has been broken eight times during his rugby playing career.
He wrote: “Thanks for all the kind messages, we are very excited and I agree with you all that hopefully he/she won’t have my nose.”
Zara, an Olympic silver medallist, is one of Britain’s leading equestrian riders. The week before it was announced she was expecting, she took a tumble while competing at the Barbury International Eventing and Show in Marlborough, Wiltshire, but was not hurt.
A few days later, three months pregnant Zara competed in a charity polo match. Her own mother, the Princess Royal, reportedly rode until just six weeks before giving birth.
The NHS recommends using caution while riding when pregnant because of the risk of injury from falls.
Zara initially insisted she would continue to compete well into her pregnancy, but seemingly had a change of heart soon after and took a break from competitive riding, with her horses having already qualified for the events she wanted to enter after the baby was born.
She continued to ride privately – although found it tricky in the later months.
“I have been riding, but it’s so uncomfortable. So, yes, I’m baking. I love cooking and will definitely cook for the baby,” she told Australian Women’s Weekly.
Zara is set to return to competing and is hoping to take part in the World Eventing Championship in August, with the longer term goal of the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The couple, who have been married for two and a half years and together for 10, had talked openly about their desire to start a family.
But the pair’s sporting commitments meant their schedules were hectic and much of their time was devoted to their respective rugby and eventing careers.
In the summer of 2012, former world champion Zara achieved her dream of competing in London 2012 Olympics, winning a team silver in front of a home crowd.
Tindall spoke about how they were waiting for the right window before having a baby.
”Obviously we’re going to have a family. But it’s about timing,” he said in May last year. He added: “It’s just where we find the balance in that. I wouldn’t say we’ll wait, we’ll try and find a window.”
But despite their planning, news that Zara was pregnant was something of a surprise to the couple, with Tindall admitting it happened quicker than they thought and came as a bit of a shock.
Zara and Tindall met at the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia.
They moved in together, sharing The Bothy, on Anne’s Gatcombe Park estate which was a gift from the Princess Royal, but later settled in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, before moving back to her mother’s estate in January 2013.
The couple wed in July 2011 in Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirk in a private ceremony attended by all the senior royals, with Zara wearing an ivory silk faille and duchess satin gown by Stewart Parvin.
Tindall said his wedding topped winning the World Cup, and Zara described the day as ”amazing”.
Just months later, newly-wed Tindall was fined and booted out of the England rugby squad for drunken antics during the World Cup in New Zealand.
He apparently took part in a ”dwarf tossing” competition with fellow players and was seen embracing an ex-girlfriend.
He was later reinstated to the team and had his fine reduced because he could not remember the drinking session and did not intentionally mislead the RFU team management
Zara has spoken about the importance of her relationship with her husband. She met him just after she found out her horse, Toytown, which she had wanted to ride in the 2008 Olympics, had become injured.
“I was quite low and vulnerable,” she said.
”He understands the pressures, and vice versa, which obviously helps, but it actually started from becoming very good friends.”