Royal Wedding: Zara Phillips steals the show at low keyed ceremony

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    Mike Tidall andZara Phillips

    THE Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips has married England rugby player Mike Tindall in a ceremony in sun-kissed Edinburgh.

    Thousands lined the streets to see the couple emerge from Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile and to get a glimpse of William and Kate and other royals.

    Zara, 30, wore a white dress designed by Stewart Parvin with a veil. Her shoes were by Jimmy Choo.

    The couple kissed after emerging from the church following the private ceremony, to the delight of the waiting well-wishers.

    Guests included William and Kate, known as the Earl and Countess of Strathearn when in Scotland. Prince Harry, Charles and Camilla, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh and Zara’s mother Princess Anne were all there to see the couple tie the knot.

    The wedding at the 17th century chuch was conducted by the Rev. Neil Gardner. The reception is at the Palace of Holyrood House.

    Zara got the party started early as she prepared for today’s royal wedding.

    She and Mike kicked off the pre-ceremony celebrations drinking cocktails with friends at a chic Edinburgh hotel on Thursday – and went clubbing after the bar closed.

    But the bride was fresh enough to enjoy a boozy three-hour champagne breakfast with a group of girlfriends yesterday morning.

    And she showed she hasn’t quite put her wild child past behind her by collapsing with laughter and saying: “No” when her pals asked if she was going to take it easy before the big day.

    Last night, the happy couple were hosting a champagne reception for 150 friends and family on the former Royal Yacht Britannia, which is now a visitor attraction in Leith.

    They were joined at Tigerlily by a dozen close friends on Thursday night.

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    When the bar closed, the group headed downstairs to the hotel club, Lulu, where they declined VIP treatment and mingled with other revellers.

    Zara and Mike, both dressed in jeans, capped their night by putting in a special request with the DJ and letting loose on the dance floor when their tune, Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO, was played.

    The group drank Veuve Clicquot champagne and caipirinha cocktails as well as Grey Goose vodka.

    Hotel director David Johnston said: “They had a fantastic night and were unbelievably grounded.

    “When Tigerlily closed, they headed downstairs to Lulu. Our security people accompanied them but Zara’s group were insistent they didn’t want VIP treatment, even though we offered it.

    “They said they’d be happy just to have a couple of tables and they were happy mixing with the rest of the crowd.”

    Zara hosted her pre-wedding breakfast yesterday at the five-star Balmoral Hotel, where 300 of her 400 guests are staying.

    She was joined by 10 friends including Prince Harry’s radio and TV presenter ex Natalie Pinkham, Sky Sports presenter Di Dougherty and her brother Peter’s wife Autumn Kelly.

    The group sunk six bottles of £95 Laurent Perrier pink champagne soaked up by smoked salmon and mini sandwiches.

    The group shrieked with laughter as they discussed the wedding plans and riding champion Zara admitted: “I’m nervous, excited but very happy.”

    She also told the group she’d been texting Mike that morning as he celebrated with rugby pals including England captain Lewis Moody, best man Iain Balshaw and Ben Foden, the boyfriend of Saturdays star Una Healy.

    Meanwhile, Moody revealed that Zara had been laying down the law to her hulking 6ft 2in fiance – banning him from rugby training on Friday to make sure he looked his best in the wedding photos.

    Moody said: “Mike’s nervous. He didn’t play today because he’s afraid he’s going to get a black eye for the wedding. The missus is in charge.”

    But if Zara had hoped to banish black eyes from her big day, she was in for a disappointment.

    Best man Balshaw was spotted out and about in Edinburgh with a shiner, apparently suffered in a moped accident in France.

    The bride and groom were reunited yesterday afternoon as they went to their wedding venue, Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile, for their rehearsal.

    The smiling couple showed no sign of last-minute nerves last night and delighted hundreds of cheering wellwishers outside the church.

    They looked happy and relaxed as they arrived in a chauffeur-driven black Jaguar before royal officials led them into the church for a final runthrough of the service.

    Princess Anne also attended the rehearsal.

    Zara, the Queen’s eldest granddaughter, and Mike were both dressed casually in jeans. The couple turned to smile at the crowds before walking inside the church to begin the rehearsal.

    The precinct of the church was a flurry of activity for most of the day with workmen entering and leaving the 17th-century building.

    Filming equipment was seen being taken into the kirk, suggesting the bride and groom are having a professional recording made of their nuptials.

    There was a heavy police presence with uniformed officers patrolling the street, where barricades had been set up along the pavements.

    More officers were stationed on balconies with binoculars to watch the crowds.

    Royal fans from all over the world had gathered to watch the couple arrive at the church.

    Holidaymaker Liz Gilroy, 46, from Carlisle, Cumbria, said: “They looked lovely, and happy. We are in Edinburgh for the wedding of a friend so it is a nice surprise to see a royal wedding while we are here.”

    Their wedding venue, 350 yards from the Palace of Holyroodhouse, has been decked out with hundreds of white roses and beech trees for the big day.

    Today, Zara will be driven from the palace to the church, while Mike will head to the venue from the Balmoral Hotel.

    Around 2000 people are expected to line the surrounding streets to catch a glimpse of the couple.

    After yesterday’s rehearsal, the beaming couple headed from the church to the reception on Britannia.

    Many of the young generation of the Royal Family were at the reception, including Prince William and his new wife Kate and Prince Harry, as well as the mother of the bride and the groom’s parents.

    Although the Queen and Prince Philip were invited, they did not attend, instead waiting until this morning to travel down from Balmoral for the ceremony.

    After the wedding, there will be one more party for Zara and Mike, held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

    Meanwhile, Princess Anne took a breather from the preparations for her daughter’s wedding with a visit to Edinburgh University, where she has taken up a key role.

    It was her first formal visit to the university as its chancellor. She was appointed to the post in March and will be installed in September.

    She succeeds her father, Prince Philip, who stepped down last year after holding the post since 1953.