Second British royal wedding announced

London: Queen Elizabeth II`s eldest grand-daughter Zara Phillips is to wed her rugby-playing boyfriend Mike Tindall, Buckingham Palace announced Tuesday, in a marriage of world-beating sports stars.

Setting up the prospect of two royal weddings in 2011, the announcement comes a month after her cousin Prince William, the second in line to the throne, revealed his engagement to university sweetheart Kate Middleton.

Phillips, 29, the daughter of the queen`s only daughter Princess Anne, is an eventing world champion and 12th in line to the throne.

Tindall, 32, who played in England`s 2003 World Cup-winning team, proposed on Monday at their home in Cheltenham, southwest England, the palace said.

The couple have been together for seven years and have largely kept their relationship out of the spotlight. They are yet to set a wedding date.

"I was really shocked when Mike proposed but I am very happy," Phillips said in a brief statement from the couple.

Tindall added: "I am delighted that Zara has agreed to marry me. We are both very excited about the next stage of our lives together."

The couple spent Tuesday training for their respective sports but later posed for pictures in the snow-covered garden of their Regency townhouse in Cheltenham, where Phillips showed off her diamond solitaire engagement ring.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip were "delighted with the news."

While William and his fiancee are to tie the knot at Westminster Abbey on April 29, Phillips` wedding will be a more low-key event.

Bookmakers reckon it will most likely be held at St George`s Chapel in Windsor Castle, west of London, where her brother Peter married in 2008.

In August 2009, Tindall told Hello! magazine that there was "no doubt" he loved Phillips and would like to have children.

"I don`t think it is about whether we will get married but when," he said.

"It probably would be a white wedding -- although sometimes I can see the attraction of sneaking away without telling anyone."

Phillips has followed in her mother`s footsteps in becoming an equestrian champion -- Anne won gold at the 1971 European eventing championship -- and has carved out her own life away from palace pressures.

Anne decided her two children would not bear royal titles and they do not carry out royal duties. The British press dubbed feisty Phillips a "royal rebel" after she had her tongue pierced as a teenager.

Phillips was the three-day event European champion in 2005 and won the world championships in 2006, but had to pull out of the 2004 and 2008 Olympics when her her horse Toytown suffered injuries.

She met Tindall in Sydney as he celebrated England winning the World Cup.

The Gloucester captain has 66 England caps and played in all but one of England`s seven matches at the 2003 tournament in Australia.

Bureau Report