Born on May 15th, 1981, to Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, baby Zara Anne Elizabeth was apparently named by her uncle, Prince Charles. The Prince of Wales summed up the sudden arrival by blessing her with the Greek biblical name that means “bright as the dawn.” It seems not having a Christian name immediately caused a stir in the House of Windsor — a stir that would continue throughout Zara Phillips’ life.
After following a longstanding Royal tradition of enrolling at Scotland’s boarding school, Gordonstoun, Zara attended a local school with her older brother Peter and had the opportunity to socialize with “ordinary” children her own age (according to Princess Anne’s wishes). No title of “Princess” was attached to her name, as her mother wanted her to have as normal a life as possible. It was while in school that Zara discovered that, like both of her parents, she had a deep love of horses and equestrian sports, excelling in racing, gymnastics and field hockey.
At the age of ten, during her early years at school, Zara had to endure her parents’ rather public divorce. As the media turned its attention toward Princess Anne, Zara realized the obsession many had with her family and became attuned to the media’s presence in her life. Despite this, she started to show her rebellious side and was once caught in the boy’s dormitory at one of the famed schools she was attending, which of course, was against the rules.
A relatively sheltered life continued as Phillips was absorbed in her schooling, perfecting her riding technique, achieving high grades and demanding as little attention as one could ask for considering she was a teenage Royal. She really turned heads after her decision to take some time off to visit Australia and New Zealand. As she partied it up down under and experimented with things like bungee jumping and rafting, the media back home began to recognize Zara as a “new breed” of British Royal; striking, down-to-earth and adventurous (somewhat like her younger cousin, William).
Upon her return back home, she began to feel that her life was changing. Now a young adult, the British tabloids could portray her as a blonde beauty, and rightly so. The addition of a tongue and navel ring to her already rebellious image further caused the public to shower her with attention. Her storied relationship with popular jump jockey Richard Johnson was also spotlighted after passersby witnessed a large fight between the two.
Other tabloid headlines included an incident where Phillips, 19 at the time, swerved her Land Rover into a ditch on a fog-laden road. The car flipped over, but fortunately Zara suffered only minor cuts; tests from a Breathalyzer came up negative. More fuel to the fire was added when topless pictures of her allegedly surfaced, although no magazine published them (sorry guys).
Despite these incidents, it is Phillips’ love for the camera (or is it the other way around?) and contribution to both charity and sports that have made her a hugely popular public figure. The tongue stud has apparently been removed, she has parted ways with Johnson, and she is now studying intently at Exeter University. With People magazine’s high praise of her in its “50 Most Beautiful People” 2002 edition and the fashion statements she makes at every appearance (thanks to famed designer Ceril Campbell), she has come into her own among the matriarchs of her family.
Having already represented her country in a competitive European racing tournament, Phillips may have the opportunity to do the same at a much bigger event in the future: The Olympics. The racing, along with an interest in physiotherapy and a close relationship with her brother, and cousins William and Harry, drive Zara Phillips to be even more well-rounded than she is now. Although her athletic beauty is hard to overlook, she is quite modest and seems to see beyond the flattery she receives for being glamorous and beautiful. These high standards are something we hope Phillips continues to strive for, with her future as bright as the dawn, as her name suggests.