Their special bond has been evident from the earliest days – and captured in dozens of photos down the years.
Even so, royal watchers were surprised by William’s strength of feeling when he told a podcast that his cousin Zara’s victory in equestrian eventing was the only occasion he’d been moved to tears while watching sport.
The admission came earlier this month when he took part inThe Good, The Bad and The Rugby, a podcast hosted by rugby stars including Zara Phillips’s husband, Mike Tindall.
During the discussion at Windsor Castle, father-of-three William, 41, said:
Prince William shares a loving bond with his cousin Zara Tindall. They are pictured together attending church inSandringham on Christmas Day in 1988)
William (left) and Zara (right), who are 13 months apart in age out with their nannies in Sandringham over the New Year in1983
William and Zara joke together at The Patron’s Lunch – a celebration to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday on The Mall in June 2016
‘The only time I’ve ever cried when watching sport was when Zara won I think it was the European championship.
‘I was down in Exmoor at the time camping. We were all huddling around the phone watching it. She was there she was blubbing away the flag was going up. I was in pieces.’
Also taking part in the podcast, recorded at Windsor Castle, were William’s wife, Kate and Zara’s mother – Willaim’s aunt – Princess Anne, herself an accomplished equestrian.
Continuing the discussion, Kate said: ‘I can remember because you came back and said I’ve never been so proud of anyone.’
Their close bond comes as no surprise given thatWilliam, along with his brother Harry, were raised in Gloucestershire, just a few miles from where Zara and her brother Peter Phillips grew up.
The four royal cousins were often spotted chatting and joking at royal events.
William has previously revealed how it was ‘hard to keep a straight face’ when sitting opposite his cousins in church.
Born just 13 months apart, Zara was reportedly a great comfort to William after his mother Diana’s death in 1997.
Queen Elizabeth II, Zara and William aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia in August 1985
The royal cousins playing in the Highgrove Team for a polo match raising funds for the sports charity Inspire in July 2004
Zara tries to deal with the pouring rain as her cousin William holds the umbrella during the presentation ceremony of the Indian Cavalry Officers Polo Trophy at Tidworth Polo Club
Though she may not be a working royal and has experienced less media attention than William and Harry, the royal cousinshave become protective of each other over time.
In a Channel 5 documentary, ‘Zara & Anne: Like Mother Like Daughter’, Victoria Arbiter said:
‘For William in particular, trust is everything so when you’ve got a cousin that understands what it is to be a member of the Royal Family, but they don’t have the same pressures associated with it, they can be a tower of strength and support.
‘It’s Zara’s loyalty and total dedication to her family that has made her such an asset to the cousins who have had to endure the negative side of royal life.’
Her mother, the Princess Royal, decided against giving her children titles in an attempt to give them as normal a life as possible
Sitting at 21st in the royal line of succession, Zara has long been a prominent member of The Firm and is often considered to be one of the most down-to-earth royals.
Such is the closeness between the cousins they are all part of a WhatsApp group where they exchange messages on upcoming events and family news.
‘Me, my brother and then a few of Zara’s side like her brother Pete [Phillips] and the cousins are on WhatsApp groups,’ her husband Mike once revealed.
‘I wouldn’t say we’re cutting edge, but it’s just easier for some reason on WhatsApp.’
He added on a separate occasion: ‘It’s just what you do to try and set up get-togethers and we are going to something that is the same.
Prince George, Zara Tindall and Prince William attending the Platinum Pageant on The Mall in June 2022
Prince William leaning forward to catch the attention of Zara, far left, with Seamus Luedecke and Laura Fellowes between, at the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, inside Westminster Abbey in July 1986
Zara and Peter Phillips with Prince William at the Christmas Day Service atSt Georges Chapel, Windsor, in 1997
Born just 13 months apart, Zara was reportedly a great comfort to William after his mother Diana’s death in 1997. Pictured: Zara and William on the Royal Yacht Britannia in August 1997
Zara is considered to be one of the most down-to-earth royals. They are pictured together her ein July 2002 atTidworth Polo Club, Wiltshire
William greets Zara at the Beaufort Polo club in Tetbury, 2015
Both Peter and Zara have been described as ‘peacemakers’ between William and Harry since.
Mike Tindall and William may seem like an unlikely pairing, but thepair are often snapped sharing a joke at royal events – and can’t resist a hug when they see each other in public.
William, heir to the throne, was educated at Eton before completing his degree at St Andrews.
He prefers football to rugby, which was more his brother Harry’s sport.
Banker’s son Tindall attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, in Wakefield becoming a professional rugby player for Bath at the age of 18.
Yet the pair are also hands-on fathers and enjoy catching up at the polo or the races, where they often give each other warm greetings like the one caught on camera.
William and Mike have been photographed looking pally at several public engagements, with the ex-England rugby player going along to support the royal at polo matches in the past.
They have also been with their wives for almost 20 years – Tindall was 25 when he and Zara were introduced at the 2003 World Cup. William and Kate met at university.
It appears as though Zara and Kate both get along nicely too, with there being many photos of the couples hanging out as a quad and the two motherscaptured giggling away together or deep in conversation at events.
One touching moment between the duo wasat the 2012 Olympics, when Kate was spotted waving enthusiastically at Zara, who won aSilver medal as part of the eventing team.
Each pair has three children – all ten years old and younger.
Prince William and Kate celebrate as his cousin Zara wins a silver medal in the team Equestrian competition during the 2012 London Olympics
Zara laughs at William and Mike messing around atRoyal Ascot in June 2019
It appears as though Zara and Kate both get along nicely too, with there being many photos of the couples hanging out together
Prince George’s christening in 2013 where Zara became one of the Godmother’s to the future King
Mike was previously snapped carrying Prince George, ten, on his shoulders, while William gave Mia, nine, a ride.
Zara and Mike also share Lena, five, and Lucas, two, while William and Kate are parents to Charlotte, eight, and Louis, five.
When Prince William and Kate Middleton welcomed their first child, Prince George, back in 2013, Zara was even made godmother to the future king.
Mia and George appear to get on particularly well too and have been seen playing together at polo matches and big royal occasions.