Ker-ching! She's already earning hundreds of thousands in sponsorship deals. Now Zara's riding at the Games the cash tills will really start ringing
23:29 GMT, 14 June 2012
Trailblazer: Zara Phillips' Land Rover endorsement made her the first Royal in direct line to the Throne ever to appear in an advertisement
Whether she makes it anywhere near the podium, Zara Phillips is already onto a winner. The Queen’s eldest granddaughter and her horse High Kingdom have scraped their way into the final place in the British eventing team at the London Olympics, and thankfully so.
Otherwise, her ride last month at Cheltenham racecourse clutching the Olympic flame in front of 30,000 people to the theme tune of Chariots Of Fire — and her appointment as an Olympics ambassador by Samsung UK — might have looked a little presumptuous.
But hard work has paid off — and there has been plenty of it. Why, Zara even missed out on the Queen’s rainy Pageant Day because she was competing.
And amid the neighing and the snorting, and the noises from the horses, you can hear a ker-ching! of delight at her success from Zara’s many sponsors, such as Rolex, Land Rover and Musto clothing.
Because if there is one thing more marketable than a lusty blonde equestrienne with a direct bloodline to the Queen, then it’s one with all of the above, plus Olympic pedigree too.
Anyone who thought the ongoing royal parade that has supplanted the British summer would stop with the Jubilee was much mistaken.
The Windsor profile will continue to ride high as Zara becomes one of our best-known competitors at London 2012, and the Union flags will receive an extra few twitches each time she trots out on her steed.
The Olympics are nothing less than an obsession for Zara, and understandably so when you look at her background.
She has been selected twice before for the Olympic squad, in 2004 and 2008, but failed to compete because her last horse, Toytown, was injured on each occasion.
Future Olympian: Zara Phillips carried the Olympic Flame in front of 30,000 people at Cheltenham Racecourse
Trusty steed: High Kingdom is the horse that will finally take Zara to the Games, after her last mount Toytown kept her out through repeat injuries
But her need to be in the Games goes much deeper than that. In a way, she was an Olympic baby.
Her parents met at the Munich Olympics in 1972, when Mark Phillips was a dashing cavalry officer who won a gold medal for Great Britain. Arguably, at that moment, he was at his most eligible, and certainly his most handsome. Ever since, the Olympics has been practically a cult for the family.
Princess Anne rode in the Montreal Olympics in 1976 (she fell off her horse, Goodwill, but loved it anyway) and is still on the International Olympic Committee: she literally passed on the Olympic flame, which she brought back on a plane from Athens, to Zara.
Mark rode again in the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and came home with a silver medal. He then went on to pastures new in his love life — which always has an Olympic theme to it.
Advertisers' favourite: Olympics ambassador Zara poses up with David Beckham
Brand loyal: The Queen's granddaughter is sponsored by sportswear company Musto, and is frequently pictured in their wares
Mark Phillips separated from Priness Anne in 1989 and they divorced in 1992. He is pictured here with his second wife Sandy Pflueger in 1990
His second wife, Sandy Pflueger, had ridden in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. Earlier this year, he left her for 35-year-old U.S. rider Lauren Hough and is said to be moving into her Florida bungalow.
She, of course, had also ridden in the Olympics, in Sydney 2000, and now assists Mark coaching the American eventing team — which raises the awkward prospect of Zara competing against riders being coached by her own father and his mistress.
It will be particularly intense because, traditionally, the U.S. and Great Britain are two of the strongest contenders in the sport.
Mistress: Show jumping ace Lauren Hough, pictured, is in a relationship with Zara's father Mark Phillips
But still, it’s not going to be that awkward, because wherever she comes, Zara has just raised herself to a triple AAA rating in terms of sponsorship.
She has always presented an unique opportunity for companies looking to give themselves the lustre of both royalty and sportsmanship, and being chosen for the 2012 Olympics in London is the crowning moment of Brand Zara.
Collection launch: Zara pictured at the unveiling of her fashion range for Musto
Lucky benefactors of her name currently include Musto sportswear, who make brightly coloured, tough garments out of man-made fibres and have launched Zara’s range for children in addition to her one for outdoorsy women.
She cheerfully admits she isn’t the designer. She just picks her favourites and lends her name to them, and wears the clothes at every opportunity, such as in her Country Life engagement photograph.
Then there’s Rolex. For over 100,000 a year, she promotes the Lady Datejust watch, entry price 6,000, of which she has several and sports one at all times — it was on her wrist as she carried the Olympic torch. Rolex adverts featuring Zara have appeared in Vanity Fair and Vogue.
For Land Rover, Zara has been photographed in palatial surroundings in a low-cut evening dress spattered with mud by Mary McCartney, the photographer daughter of Sir Paul. And last autumn she was the first person to take the keys of the new Range Rover Evoque in her role as ambassador for them.
Plus there is Samsung. And other generous patrons too, such as Trevor Hemmings, a friend of her mother. Now in his late 70s, Trevor is known as the ‘cloth cap billionaire’ because he started as a bricklayer’s apprentice and has no pretensions in spite of his money.
He is always buying and selling things, like Pontin’s and the Blackpool Tower, and is the man we must thank for bringing Center Parcs to the UK. Between such deals, he indulges himself in buying horses. He owned the 2011 Grand National winner Ballabriggs — and that wasn’t his first National winner.
It was he who set out to find Zara a winner to replace her beloved Toytown, and who bought High Kingdom for her, the horse she will ride in Greenwich for the 2012 Games.
Although she has a 1.7 million share of a trust the Queen Mother left for her great grandchildren, and lives in a pretty Regency house in Cheltenham, Zara certainly needs to keep that sponsorship money coming in. She has seven horses who all need to be ridden for an hour each a day. Her trailer alone cost more than 250,000. Estimated costs for running this equine empire are about 500,000 a year.
Much-loved: Pictured in 2006, Zara and Toytown had a long and happy partnership – but the World Championship winner was retired in August 2011
Less reliable: Zara's rugby ace husband Mike Tindall has proven harder to manage than her perfectly-trained horses
Husband Mike Tindall’s career, however, can hardly be said to be going from strength to strength. Since their wedding last July he has not distinguished himself at the spouse of the year awards.
Although Zara didn’t seem to resent his low-key proposal — at home, in front of the telly — or even his colossal stag night bar bill (12,000 for 10 people), his behaviour during the Rugby World Cup in Australia would have strained any marriage.
Career slump: Gloucester Rugby Club have not renewed Mike Tindall's contract – but at least he hasn't tossed any dwarves recently
It saw him fined 25,000 (later reduced to 15,000) and thrown out of the English squad, for being so drunk he couldn’t remember being kissed intimately by a blonde and cavorting around a bar, while dwarves were being tossed during a ‘Mad Midget Weekender’.
Zara flew out to patch things up and thankfully accepted his version of events, which was that he didn’t have one because he couldn’t recall anything.
A couple of months ago Tindall’s rugby club, Gloucester, said they wouldn’t be renewing his contract, so he has done the best thing you possibly can do when caught out drunk with a blonde companion and dwarves, which is to launch a charity.
Shortly after the Tindalls had scraped through that unfortunate episode, Mike’s rugby friend Olly Phillips moved in as their house-guest, their Portguese holiday home fell through and Zara’s father ran off with the Florida-born blonde who is four months younger than her brother, Peter.
So, all in all, it was about time she received some good news.
will be able to cope with the renewed attention. Among young royals she
was always the rebellious one, with the tongue stud and an acquaintance
with the police – they paid her a visit when she had a bust-up with her
ex-boyfriend, jockey Richard Johnson.
It was with Johnson that Zara did her
first lucrative Hello! shoot, and she continued the habit when she and
Tindall squeezed in a post-wedding chat with the magazine.
It will no doubt be bidding for her post-Olympics chat too, and eventually, with any luck, the post-baby pictures.
And as Brand Zara rises, the price of access will surely rise too.
Get your bids in: Zara's stock will rise enormously if she has a successful Olympics – meaning the price of access will shoot up too