Guy Adams asks the King about Mike Tindall’s I’m A Celebrity cash-in

Guy Adams asks the King about Mike Tindall’s I’m A Celebrity cash-in

A few years prior to marrying Mike Tindall in 2011, equestrian Zara Phillips donned a Union flag and posed for the cover of GQ Sport magazine with the headline “Britain’s Olympic Hope” and “doing it for Queen and Country.”

Her Majesty’s eldest granddaughter, who would go on to win a silver medal as part of the UK eventing team at the 2012 Olympics, stated in a colorful interview: ‘It’s far better to be known as a horse rider than as a royal.’

To underscore her assertion, Zara disclosed that she had just declined an offer that would have been profitable but, given her position, highly inappropriate.

Specifically, she had been asked to appear in the popular ITV reality series I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here alongside a motley assortment of soap actors, glamour models, fallen music stars, ex-politicians, and the eccentric children’s TV host Timmy Mallett.

She grumbled, sneering in scorn, “I mean, really!”


Present day, we cannot help but be amazed at how things have transpired.

Blue-blooded Zara, 41, who formerly laughed at the silliness of being asked to participate in this tacky charade, is now married to the next star of the exact same disgusting television show.

How so? Mike arrived at Brisbane Airport yesterday in order to set up camp in the Australian outback with the likes of radio DJ Chris Moyles, Love Island star Olivia Attwood, a person from Coronation Street, and a slew of other hired celebrities.

The former England rugby star’s every chat, as well as his shower visits, will be filmed and presented to the public for several weeks. He may also be required to consume unmentionable kangaroo parts or lie in a box with spiders or snakes.

It’s the most strange royal TV booking since the 1980s, when Cliff Richard disguised as a leek was chased by John Travolta while Prince Andrew applauded from the sidelines on It’s A Royal Knockout.


Yet Tindall has a greater purpose: he will reportedly receive £150,000 for participating in the show. In addition, he will get tens of thousands of social media followers and a multitude of rich sponsorship deals.

Some have already been inked in. This week, while Tindall prepared for I’m A Celebrity, he appeared in striking new advertisements for not one, but two major brands: Domino’s Pizza and Amazon Prime.

In the first film, he transports pizza boxes to the residence of fellow England rugby veteran James Haskell. After joking that he had “friends in high places,” which probably refers to the royal palace, Tindall’s sidekick teases him by asking, “What do you want? A medal?’

This appears to be a current joke mocking Tindall, who has never served in the military, for wearing a variety of medals to the Queen’s funeral.

The second advertisement, which promotes Amazon’s coverage of autumn rugby internationals, is also intended to be humorous.

After punching his way out of a huge cardboard box, the 44-year-old father of three is introduced as “Zara Tindall’s spouse!” (Again, this is a joke based on the reality that Zara, as the 20th in line to the throne, is the elder of the couple.)

Certainly Tindall was highly compensated. But this effort broke new ground in the Firm’s complicated connection with the sleazy business world. Whether his in-laws approve is a separate matter.

Mike and Zara are not working royals. They lack titles and do not get state funds (though Zara benefited from a trust fund established by the Queen Mother for her great-grandchildren), so on paper they are free to earn money in any way they want.

Nonetheless, there are obvious risks associated with monetizing royal relationships.

Other non-working members of the Firm, such as Sarah, Duchess of York, have been reluctantly permitted to make a shilling through commercial endorsements. However, they are normally urged to do so abroad, and never to trade directly on their royal connections.

This tradition explains the outrage that ensued two years ago when Zara’s brother Peter Phillips appeared in a Chinese milk commercial in which he spoke about his Windsor upbringing and was identified as a member of the British royal family.

Tindall is going the extra mile, which is causing some anxiety within the palace.

One royal source states, “The King was not contacted regarding I’m A Celebrity and would not have agreed.”

Regarding these advertisements, they are quite demeaning. The Queen was Zara’s grandmother, and the King is her uncle. The timing is unfortunate, as it appears that their participation in the funeral has increased their visibility and increased their business.

This is certainly not what the Palace wants, but these individuals appear determined to push and push in order to earn more cash.

How the couple have built a fortune through lucrative brand partnerships

DOMINO’S: Estimated £300k

AMAZON PRIME: Estimated £150k


PUREIS CBD: Estimated £50k

LAND ROVER: Estimated £200K


MAGIC MILLIONS: Estimated £125K

MUSTO: Estimated £500K


ROLEX: Estimated £100K

VST ENTERPRISES: Estimated £200K

CBD oil: Estimated £50k

Apparently, the fact that Tindall co-hosts a podcast with the aforementioned James Haskell causes additional anxiety. Recent editions of his show, which is nominally about rugby, have featured insights into royal life.

In one, he disclosed the existence of family WhatsApp groups used to “plan gatherings.” During the Platinum Jubilee, he revealed that the younger royals were on a’sugar high’ because ‘there were a lot of sweets out back.’

And shortly after the Queen’s passing, he stated that Her Majesty had authorized preparations for a plane that had repatriated the remains of British soldiers to transport her coffin, stating, “If it’s good enough for my lads, it’s good enough for me.”

He has also stated that the Prince of Wales, whom he refers to as “Willy,” is a fast runner, and that the Princess of Wales has so much stamina during family touch rugby games that she has earned the nickname “engine.”

Some may consider this stuff to be harmless or even endearing. One could argue that the World Cup-winning rugby player, who grew up in a former mining hamlet near Leeds, is helping to demystify the royals and make the institution appear more approachable.

The danger, however, is that the death of the Queen would encourage peripheral family members to pursue chances they previously shied away from. Obviously, the Tindalls must make a livelihood. Mike stated in an interview with The Times last year that his revenue from after-dinner speaking (for which he charges between £2,500 and £5,000, per the After Dinner World agency) ceased during the pandemic.

‘Money is always a concern,’ he added, adding that after he resigned from rugby in 2014: ‘I was very fortunate to have a few ambassadorial responsibilities, so there’s money coming in, but sponsorships won’t stay forever.

With a third kid on the way and school fees to be paid in the near future, it is imperative to plan ahead.

In spite of this, it is astounding how many business deals he and Zara have made in recent years. And the nature of some of the companies and individuals they have chosen to do business with is at best dubious.

Consider the Manchester-based technology company VST Enterprises, managed by entrepreneur Louis-James Davis. Companies House indicates that he is a director of at least 28 defunct businesses.

Zara and Mike were announced as “global ambassadors” for the company in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, in a deal reportedly worth £200,000. Their task was to market a ‘digital health passport,’ which the company claimed would allow sports to return securely following Covid-19.

Zara stated, upon the announcement of the purchase, that this cybertechnology might have a significant positive impact.

However, there was a problem: the VST “passport” was based on an antibody test that was not authorized for screening infection. This prompted Jon Deeks, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Birmingham, to file a complaint with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, claiming that the Tindalls-starring advertisement’misrepresented’ the company’s product.

“This might be harmful if infectious individuals participate in sporting activities with unfavorable outcomes,” he noted.


VST, which appears to have consumed approximately £10 million in investor funds, subsequently collapsed. It is currently in administration, with millions owed to creditors, including the Tindall family.

Then there came UFX, a financial trading business whose brand ambassador was Tindall. After signing an endorsement agreement in 2017, he commented, “I’m more than glad to recommend them to both friends and family.”

However, it was discovered that the Cypriot firm’s parent company had been punished multiple times for violating securities law and was being sued by dissatisfied consumers who claimed the firm had ruined them financially.

One, Jon Goddard, told The Times in 2020 that he became a client of the company after seeing a Facebook advertisement.

‘There were quite a few well-known people on there, like Mike Tindall, which gave it a great deal of legitimacy,’ he said.


Goddard ultimately lost his £89,000 life savings. Following his complaint, the company refunded half of the funds. It left the United Kingdom in 2020.

In a separate transaction in 2017, Zara agreed to counsel Hong Kong businessman Johnny Hon for approximately £100,000 per year.

Her precise responsibilities were unknown, but it soon became apparent that she headed a £40,000-per-year networking club where members could meet serving royals and even have Christmas dinner with Prince Philip.

When journalists from the Mail inquired about the arrangement, Zara’s attorney stated that it was “entirely false” that she was a non-executive director of one of Hon’s companies. A few months later, though, records surfaced proving that she held that function. Unknown is the reason why they issued a fake denial. A sympathetic interpretation of these PR catastrophes is that the pair has so many endorsement deals that it is impossible to keep track of them all.

Zara has no less than thirteen official sponsors to finance her equestrian career, including manufacturers of saddles, jodhpurs, horse feed, helmets, and tractors, as well as Musto, the clothing company that recently filmed an advertisement near the Tindalls’ Gloucestershire home, on Princess Anne’s 700-acre Gatcombe estate. Zara states on the company’s promotional material, “The cut is flattering for ladies; you feel very feminine and useful in them.”


This month, she modeled Musto’s new collection for Hello! magazine. Over the years, the celebrity magazine has been a generous paymaster, photographing her with (then-boyfriend) jockey Richard Johnson in 2001 for a reputed £125,000 and paying another £150,000 for images of Mia, her first child, in 2014.

Zara only refrained from selling the rights to her 2011 wedding because the Palace reportedly intervened in response to outcry at her brother Peter’s decision to sell photographs from his wedding to Autumn Kelly.

She also has endorsement deals with Rolex (they call her a “testimonee” and give her cash and free watches) and Land Rover, which is hilarious given that Mike has two drink-driving convictions and she was banned from speeding in 2020.

Zara is also a ‘ambassador’ for Magic Millions, an Australian horse event, along with iCandy, makers of a £1,500 pram’modelled’ by Lena, the Tindalls’ middle child (there is also an 18-month-old son named Lucas), and Calleija, a jewellery company that sells a ‘Zara Phillips line’


The equestrian-inspired pieces consist of a £11,000 diamond ring resembling a saddle and the Coronet Suite collection. According to legend, this was named after the band on top of a horse’s foot, although a coronet also has royal overtones.

As part of an initiative to encourage more women to play golf, Slingsby Gin, sponsors of the PGA championship, made Zara a “cadet” in their golf academy this year. On a more exotic note, Mike became a celebrity ambassador for Pureis CBD, a company that sells medical marijuana products.

The Tindalls currently have more sponsors than the typical Premier League football team. Cynics speculate that it is only a matter of time before they strike a deal with a cryptocurrency company or dubious Asian gambling organization.

Earlier in her career, Zara was sponsored by the betting company Cantor Index (and allowed her image to be used in an online equestrian game called Howrse).

Obviously, the question is whether this bewildering array of companies would still be so generous with their checkbooks if Mike were merely an ordinary former England rugby player. Or if Zara’s only claim to fame was that she was an equestrian who last competed in the Olympics over a decade ago.

It seems unlikely. For, as I’m A Celebrity will undoubtedly demonstrate, the Tindall family — and, by extension, their royal stardust — are now firmly up for sale.

Amazon and Domino’s are likely not the only free-spending advertisers who desire a piece of this action, or pizza.

»Guy Adams asks the King about Mike Tindall’s I’m A Celebrity cash-in«

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