Zara Tindall was spotted watching the races at Cheltenham Racecourse with a “lady in waiting”. The only daughter of Princess Anne was spotted being accompanied at Cheltenham by her close friend Dolly Maude.
Like most other attendees at the racecourse, the trained maternity nurse sported a badge pinned on the lapel of her coat.
However, rather than showing her name, the pin read “lady in waiting”, a title normally given to women attending high-ranking female members of the Royal Family.
Zara, however, has not adopted this tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, her spokesperson insisted.
He told the Daily Mail: “It was a joke. Zara doesn’t have any sort of lady-in-waiting.”
Commentator Richard Eden claimed the badge granted Zara’s friend entry to the highly restricted Royal Box at Cheltenham.
Ms Maude and Zara, who share a love for horses, have been friends for years, and are known to have lived together in 2003.
In 2011, when Zara and Mike Tindall tied the knot, Ms Maude was the bride’s maid of honor.
Their bond remained particularly strong over the years, with the NHS nurse being present at the birth of all three Tindalls’ children – Mia, Lena and Lucas.
Zara’s husband Mike even joked about his wife’s relationship with Ms Maude, saying during an episode of The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast she is “more important” than he is.
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The remark was made as Mike recalled the birth of Lucas in March 2021 – which happened so fast the Tindalls didn’t even get the chance to head to the hospital.
Speaking to the podcast’s co-hosts James Haskell and Alex Payne, Mike said: “Fortunately Zara’s friend Dolly is, she’s actually more important than I am at making sure she’s been at all three of my children’s births, she was there and recognized that we wouldn’t have got to the hospital in time, so it was run into the gym, get a mat, get into the bathroom, towels down, brace brace brace!”
The late Queen Elizabeth II reportedly had five ladies-in-waiting in her last few years – with one, Susan Rhodes, being appointed only in 2017.
Queen Camilla, on the other hand, has made the decision following the accession to the throne of King Charles not to have any lady-in-waiting, a move seen as modernizing by some commentators.
Nevertheless, the monarch’s wife still counts on the help of aides, called “Queen’s companions”.
The six people covering this honorary position, which is meant to be more informal and on an occasional basis, are asked to help Camilla at public events.
Unlike ladies-in-waiting, they no longer have to take care of Her Majesty’s correspondence or administration.
While their expenses are covered, the companions don’t receive a salary – as didn’t ladies-in-waiting.