Paul Hackett / Reuters
Equestrian and granddaughter of the queen Zara Phillips told reporters that she is "massively" excited to be on Britain's Olympic team.
The queen will undoubtedly be rooting for all British athletes at the Games this summer in London, but one will surely hold a special place in her heart: Her granddaughter, Zara Phillips, is a member of the equestrian eventing team.
But far be it from Phillips, 12th in line to the throne, to expect or request any special treatment. The 31-year-old rider will stay in the Olympic village with the other members of her team and will not have any exceptional security arrangements, according to the team’s performance director.
"Security is going to be so tight that every athlete will be treated like the queen was their grandmother," said Anthony Glees, director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham. "Around the Olympic venues there will be a so-called ring of steel that will replicate the sort of security surrounding a head of state. London will swamped with security personnel, and the amount spent on security at the Games will the biggest ever."
Meanwhile, Phillips is concentrating more on perfecting her skills than on the worldwide attention she has brought to her team.
“It will be great to be part of the Olympics, and get the atmosphere and the buzz of being a part of it,” she said at a press conference earlier this week. “A lot of times equestrian is quite far out, and they made a big effort this time to have us part of the Olympics.”
A question about her royal grandmother elicited an embarrassed laugh as Phillips carefully sidestepped.
“Oh man,” she said, as she covered her face and looked down. “Obviously my family is very proud, and right behind me. It’s great that I’ve been able to be selected to start off with.”
Phillips is the daughter of Princess Anne, the queen’s second-born daughter. She has long competed for British teams at the European and World Equestrian Championships, but this will be her first time at the Olympics. In 2008, she was selected to compete at the Games in Beijing, but was forced to withdraw after her horse Toytown was injured.
Kieran Doherty / Reuters
British equestrian Zara Phillips takes part in the Olympic torch relay, riding through Cheltenham Race Course on May 23.
This time, her horse High Kingdom, an 11-year-old gelding, is ready, and Phillips is “massively” excited, although “still keeping fingers crossed, because you know what horses are like.”
The most exciting part of equestrian eventing is no doubt the show jumping, where horses leap over fences that reach over 4 feet high. Eventing, which takes place over several days, also includes dressage, where horse and rider are judged on the precision of the horse's movements, and cross country.
While the queen is certainly proud of her granddaughter, it’s not the first time a member of her family has participated in the Games. Phillips' mother, Princess Anne, represented Great Britain in equestrian eventing at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, and while she didn’t come home with any medals, her husband, Mark Phillips, won a gold medal at the 1972 Games in Munich, and silver at the 1988 Games in Seoul in eventing.