17 June 2021
Mike Tindall has opened up about his father’s battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Having finally been able to visit his parents for the first time in a year, the ex-England rugby international – who is married to Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall – admits he has “taken mum and dad for granted” and praised Zara for her “brilliant” support, after his father Philip was diagnosed with the degenerative illness in 2003.
He said: “It didn’t really dawn on me what Parkinson’s was, if you looked at people who were prevalent with Parkinson’s at the time, you’d say Muhammed Ali, and you looked at my dad and you looked at Muhammed Ali, well it’s not the same person, surely it’s not the same disease. Or I don’t know how Michael J. Fox was back then but another name that sort of sprang out, who you knew who had it.
Mike – who has Mia, seven, Lena, two, and three month old Lucas with Zara – believes he was too focused on his sports career at the time of his father’s diagnosis and didn’t realise how bad the illness was until he got married and it was obvious the Parkinson’s was starting to take effect.
He added: “And then you know, life went on. You know, I was 25. Rugby was going really well, you were sort of focused on that. And then when we got married in 2011, somewhere around there, things were starting to— you could see the effects grow on him, in terms of he’s a much smaller man than he ever was at the moment. Curvature of the spine, he had to have surgery on that. Slowly from that sort of point, over the last 10 years, there’s been loads of other problems that have come across because of it.”
When asked about Zara’s support, he said: “She’s been brilliant. She sort of gets it and she sort of keeps me on my toes a little bit with it. And where we are in terms of finding out more about new drugs that are coming out and new trials and everything else.”
Mike has been patron of charity Cure Parkinson’s since 2018.