It seems shocking to imagine anyone getting close enough to punch Prince Harry, especially when he still lived in the U.K. and was surrounded by royal bodyguards. You might be wondering who landed the blow: was it a hired professional? An angry British citizen?
The real answer is absolutely shocking: Harry was once punched by Mike Tindall, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson-in-law!
But who the heck is Mike Tindall and why did he punch Harry? For that matter, how did this incident change their relationship? We’ve got the full story!
Who is Mike Tindall?
When it comes to royal headlines, you might read quite a bit about Prince Harry, Prince William, Meghan Markle, and Queen Elizabeth. But unless you’ve kept close track of the Royal Family over the years, you probably have a pretty basic question right now: who the heck is Mike Tindall?
Tindall originally rose to fame as a rugby player. In 1997, he joined Bath Ruby at the tender age of 18. He became very popular in England over the years, but chances are he never guessed how rugby was going to change his life.
It all goes back to 2003. At a bar in Sydney, Tindall was drinking to help get over an unfortunate fact: he had just been cut from the England team before the semi-finals of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. In other words, he was busy feeling like the world’s biggest loser.
But not for long. Because this is when he met his future wife Zara Phillips, a member of the Royal Family and Prince Harry’s cousin. The two hit it off and she left her number with his friend. The two dated for a while and married in 2011. Mike continued to play rugby until 2014, which is also the year that their first child was born.
Who is Zara Tindall?
Mike Tindall has been a solid athlete over a 17-year rugby career, but the blunt truth is that most around the world would not know who he was without him being a part of the Royal Family. That brings us to an obvious question: who is Zara Tindall, formerly Zara Phillips, the woman who effectively changed Mike’s life forever?
She is the daughter of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips. If you don’t want to bust the royal scrolls out, that makes her the eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth. And that makes her a cousin to both Prince Harry and Prince William.
One possible reason that Zara and Mike Tindall bonded so quickly is that she is an athlete in her own right. Instead of rugby, though, she is an award-winning equestrian who actually brought home the silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
As royal couples go, she and Mike seem about as happy as they come. And, notably, they may be some of the only Royal Family members still on good terms with Prince Harry!
Why did Mike Tindall punch Prince Harry?
When you hear that one person punched another person, you probably imagine some bitter fight between two people who dislike each other. But that wasn’t the case with Mike Tindall and Prince Harry.
As The Daily Mail reports, the story about Tindall punching Harry came out recently when Tindall was joined by former teammate Matt Dawson at the BBC quiz show A Question Of Sport Live at the London Palladium on Sept. 27.
Dawson revealed that back in 2003, when Tindall was 25 and Harry was 19, they were at a Sydney bar celebrating England’s Rugby World Cup with Tindall’s teammate Iain Balshaw. Completely hammered, Tindall and Balshaw became curious about how long it would actually take Harry’s security forces to respond if the prince was attacked. So, as a joke, they decided to begin throwing punches at Harry!
Their experiment got almost immediate results. Within seconds of the first punch, security had pinned them to the ground.
No hard feelings
Everyone has family members they want to punch, but few of us ever go through with it. Since the Queen’s own grandson-in-law punched Prince Harry, we are left with an obvious question: how did Harry feel about the whole thing?
As near as anyone can tell, Harry had no hard feelings about the incident, possibly because he knows what it’s like to make silly decisions after drinking. It would be less than 10 years after this incident that Harry was playing strip pool in Las Vegas and getting photographed naked while drinking. Compared to that, Mike Tindall throwing a playful punch after a few pints is downright mild!
But while Harry and Mike’s relationship has not suffered, Tindall revealed that it’s a different story altogether where Harry and the rest of the Royal Family are concerned.
Mike jokes the Royal Family would like to throw punches at Harry
When Dawson revealed the story of Tindall wondering how long it would take security to stop him if he punched Harry, Tindall joked, “At Balmoral [Queen Elizabeth’s Scottish holiday castle], the family are now having the same conversation, except the Queen has taken his security away.”
Of course, Tindall was referring to the current feud between Harry and the Royal Family after Harry and Meghan stepped down as working royals, moved to the U.S., and aired the family’s dirty laundry in an interview with Oprah, including accusations of a family member being racist.
William went on TV to defend the family against claims of racism, but Harry’s relationship with William and their father Prince Charles (whom he is reportedly not speaking to) has been in doubt ever since.
Harry and Meghan are on good terms with Mike and Zara
But what about Mike and Zara Tindall? These two have stayed out of the drama and actually stayed in touch with Harry and Meghan via a WhatsApp group for the royal cousins, Mike told Good Morning Britain in 2018 (via The Mirror).
While this may have started as a discreet way to make plans with each other, WhatsApp eventually became a lifeline for Harry and Meghan to share updates (such as a photo of their daughter Lilibet, born in June) with family members they are still on good terms with.
Still, if Mike Tindall is ever depicted on The Crown, Netflix’s popular drama about the Royal Family, he thinks the incident where he attacked Harry would undoubtedly be part of his storyline.
“That has to be the main incident, if it was there — the full Harry slap,” he told England star James Haskell on The Good, the Bad, and the Rugby podcast in 2020. At the time, news of Tindall hitting Harry had not gotten out yet, but it appears that this is what Tindall was referring to.
“They don’t even know about that, Tinds,” Haskell said (via Hello Magazine). “That wasn’t what we were talking about, but now you’ve revealed that.”