A refreshingly down-to-earth royal wedding

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Yesterday's nuptials between Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall broke the mould

By the standard of previous royal weddings this year it was positively low key. Predictably enough, Zara Phillips drew a crowd for her "understated" and thoroughly modern marriage to rugby international Mike Tindall in Edinburgh yesterday. But in stark contrast to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton three months ago, the couple exchanged vows behind closed doors, away from the media. There was little hysteria among the hundreds of spectators lined up patiently along the cobbled street outside.

The bride is expected to set a royal precedent by not taking her husband's surname. Traditionally, even when they marry "commoners", royal brides have always adopted the family name of their partners. That said, there was no suggestion last night that she intended to spend the honeymoon miles away from her new husband, as was reported in the case of Prince Albert of Monaco and his bride.

Zara's decision to break with tradition is believed to stem from a desire to preserve her sporting persona and business interests. The former equestrian world champion is known throughout the sport as Zara Phillips, and as such she has signed a number of deals which help fund her sporting interests.

In Scotland's first royal wedding since 1992, when the bride's mother, Princess Anne, married her second husband, Timothy Laurence, the most ostentatious element was the dramatic "saucer" hats worn by many of the female guests.

The Royal Family, led by the Queen and Prince Philip, mixed with Tindall's England team-mates on the historic Royal Mile in Edinburgh. The bride rode in a Bentley with her father, Captain Mark Phillips, from the Palace of Holyroodhouse for the short journey to the 17th-century Canongate Kirk, where the service was held.

After the ceremony the newly-weds emerged arm in arm, stood on the steps and shared a kiss, much to the delight of the crowd. The bride's dress, an ivory silk and satin gown, was designed by Stewart Parvin, one of the Queen's favourite couturiers. It was accompanied by a veil, a tiara and Jimmy Choo shoes.

The couple arrived at their reception in Holyroodhouse, at the bottom of the Royal Mile, as the Royal Scots Association pipe band played.

Among the guests at the ceremony and reception were the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry. Also present were the Duke of York and his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.

Many of the female guests wore spectacular fascinators, or hats, some apparently inspired by TV satellite dishes. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a creamy, beige hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan, while Katherine Kelly, who plays Becky in Coronation Street, wore a large-brimmed orange hat and a beige summer dress.

Mr Tindall, from Otley in Yorkshire, plays for club side Gloucester and has been capped more than 60 times for his country.

He and best man Iain Balshaw were part of England's winning 2003 rugby World Cup squad in Australia, where the bride and grom were introduced by Prince Harry, Zara's cousin.

Meanwhile, in another part of town... Newlyweds who made way for royal couple 'delighted' with their change of venue

"People have said I'll be remembered as the woman who got married on the same day as Zara, but maybe Zara will be remembered as the woman who got married on the same day as me." Carith Harrison was being philosophical yesterday as she married a short distance away but very much in the shadow of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall's nuptials.

It's hard to imagine the average bride giving up her dream wedding venue, but that's exactly what Ms Harrison did. The 28-year-old graphic designer had booked Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh for her wedding to a 27-year-old lifeguard, Gregg Walter, but agreed to make way after a request from the royal household.

The couple's wedding took place at Greyfriars Kirk, 15 minutes' walk away in the city centre, instead.

"We are delighted to be here," said Mr Walter, who proposed with a ring made by his father, who owns a jeweller's shop in Peebles. "It worked out better for us in the end. It was January when we heard who it was that wanted our church and we were slightly taken aback at first."

Despite the couple being so obliging, they have yet to receive a token of appreciation from Ms Phillips and Mr Tindall. "Not yet anyway!" said the new Mrs Walter. "If she has been anything like as busy as me, she will have had no time to think about thank-you notes."

Matt Thomas

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