The Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips has said she was left “shocked” but “very happy” when her long-term boyfriend and England rugby player Mike Tindall proposed.
Tindall popped the question to his 29-year-old partner on Monday night at their Gloucestershire home, and said he was “delighted” she had agreed to marry him.
The couple met in a Sydney bar during the 2003 Rugby World Cup through Zara’s cousin Prince Harry. Their friendship blossomed into a romance and Tindall, 32, has claimed that it was his “pure charm” that won the royal’s heart.
In a short statement issued by a sports marketing company that represents the couple, Zara said: “I was really shocked when Mike proposed but I am very happy.”
Tindall was also ecstatic about their news and said: “I am delighted that Zara has agreed to marry me. We are both very excited about the next stage of our lives together.”
A Palace spokeswoman said: “The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are delighted with the news. They got engaged… at the couple’s home in Gloucestershire and a date has yet to be set.”
The Queen’s granddaughter is one of Britain’s top equestrians and a former world three-day eventing champion. Her husband-to-be, who plays for club side Gloucester, has been capped 66 times by his country and was part of the England team that won the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
The news that Zara is to wed her boyfriend comes soon after the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton last month. Zara and Tindall have not yet set a date but it seems likely they will tie the knot in 2011 – setting up the prospect of two royal weddings next year.
The couple could opt for St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for their wedding – the venue chosen by Zara’s brother Peter when he married his wife Autumn in 2008.
A Buckingham Palace statement said: “The Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter Zara Phillips to Mr Mike Tindall, son of Mr Phillip and Mrs Linda Tindall.”