Mike Tindall's England rugby career is over and he has been fined £25k for 'serious misconduct' at the Rugby World Cup. He has also been dropped from England's Elite Player squad. His once golden future has ended in disgrace. The word of RFU professional rugby director Rob Andrew, who also disciplined other players, said it all: "We have considered all the evidence carefully and interviewed the players at length. These actions have not been taken lightly but we believe that in all these cases the sanctions are commensurate with the level of seriousness of what occurred.
"Mike Tindall's actions reached a level of misconduct that was unacceptable in a senior England player and amounted to a very serious breach of the EPS Code of Conduct. Whilst we acknowledge his previous good character it needs to be made clear that what he did will not be tolerated.”
Tindall, husband of the Queen’s grandaughter Zara Phillips, was flung out of the England squad following an incident in a bar in Queenstown, New Zealand, when he was caught on CCTV fooling around with a woman who was clearly not his wife. He then misled his public relations staff and the Rugby Football Union, by denying he had left the bar with the woman and that they'd gone into a second bar. Statements were made to the press which then had to be retracted when further evidence of his activities came to light.
In royal circles, Tindall is suffering from what is termed the ‘Fergie Syndrome’. This relates to Sarah Ferguson, who thought she could do exactly what she liked after her marriage to Prince Andrew in 1986. Scandals and gaffes galore have followed her ever since.
Now he has been professionally ruined, what can we surmise about the chances of his marriage to Zara surviving? She is a ‘feisty’ girl - a term the British press use to mean ‘willful’ and ‘headstrong’.
Shortly after the Queenstown incident in September, Zara flew out to New Zealand and was seen happily reunited with her errant husband. The couple who had married on July 30th, then booked a package-deal holiday at a Cyprus hotel in October. Mysteriously, this media-savvy couple did not seem to realise that photographs of them canoodling on sunbeds would appear in the press!
Tindall might think that all will blow over, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The Royal Family and their courtiers, take a very dim view of a blood royal being humiliated by their marriage partner. Zara’s mother, Princess Anne, is said to be furious.
Then there is the public interest angle - valid in this case. It has just been announced this week that the Tindalls’ nuptials in Edinburgh cost the UK taxpayers £400,000 in security bills.
I am told there has been little sign of life at the couple’s stuccoed mansion in Cheltenham lately. It is the type of house that requires constant, expensive maintenance. There is also the property in Portugal that the couple are buying and furnishing. So, with the £25,000 fine and the loss of potential income from rugby and from sponsorship, Mike might have to seek a new career.
Zara remains an equestrienne, heavily sponsored by Land Rover and the Musto clothing label that she promotes at every opportunity. Somehow, I suspect that a highly-paid interview with pictures of the loving couple in a feel-good magazine will be with us before long, but I wouldn’t hold out much hope of this ‘royal’ marriage avoiding the fate of so many others in the past.