Second British royal wedding as Zara ties the knot

LONDON - Prince William's marriage to Kate Middleton was watched by billions around the world but second British royal wedding of the year will be much more down-to-earth.

Queen Elizabeth II's eldest grand-daughter Zara Phillips and her fiance Mike Tindall, the England rugby union veteran, are to marry in a private ceremony at Edinburgh's Canongate Kirk on Saturday.

The pair, both world-beating sports stars, have planned a wedding that combines their low-key style with just the right amount of regal splendour.

All the senior royals are expected to attend - William and Catherine included - and the reception will be held at the nearby Palace of Holyroodhouse, the queen's official residence in Scotland.

Phillips, 30, the younger child of the queen's only daughter Princess Anne, is a former eventing world champion and 13th in line to the throne.

Tindall, 32, played in England's 2003 World Cup-winning team and captained the side in their victorious 2011 Six Nations campaign.

The wedding comes almost exactly three months after Phillips' cousin William, second in line, tied the knot on April 29, with a million people lining the streets of London and an estimated two billion more watching on television.

"My wedding will be nothing like Kate and William's," Phillips told The People newspaper.

"For a start, there won't be anywhere near as many people. It will be a lot smaller, just close family and friends.

"Kate and William's wedding was amazing but ours will be very different.

"Edinburgh's a very special place to us both. We're just really excited and very much looking forward to being husband and wife."

The 321-year-old Canongate Kirk is on Edinburgh's Royal Mile thoroughfare, a short walk from the Scottish Parliament and Holyroodhouse.

The royal family attend services at the Church of Scotland kirk when staying in the Scottish capital.

Phillips met Tindall in Sydney in 2003 as the England squad celebrated winning the World Cup.

The jovial, broken-nosed Gloucester captain claims it was his "pure charm" that won her heart.

The couple live in a regency townhouse in Cheltenham, southwest England and have largely kept their relationship out of the spotlight.

Tindall proposed on December 20 last year and the casually-dressed couple then posed for a few pictures in their snowy back garden.

Rugby players are renowned for enjoying a drink or two and Tindall celebrated his stag party in Miami last month in true style, racking up a $20,000 (S$24,020) bar bill.

William and Catherine's fairytale marriage at Westminster Abbey cost a small fortune to stage.

However, Phillips' Canongate Kirk wedding will be somewhat cheaper.

The marriage certificate fee is ?69 ($113, 78 euros), while the other fees are ?75 for the organist, ?25 for the church officer and a donation of not less than ?200 to the church - preferably payable all in one cheque, the website says.

The wedding takes place 30 years and a day on from the 1981 marriage of William's parents Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

Phillips has followed in her mother's footsteps in becoming an equestrian champion - Anne won gold at the 1971 European eventing championship - and has carved out her own life away from palace pressures.

Anne decided her two children would not bear royal titles and they do not carry out royal duties.

The British press dubbed feisty Phillips a "royal rebel" after she had her tongue pierced as a teenager.