Mike Tindall Praises 'Brilliant' Wife Zara for Supporting His Dad's Parkinson's Battle: 'She Gets It'

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zara and mike tindall
zara and mike tindall

Zara and Mike Tindall

Mike Tindall is opening up about his "brilliant" wife, Zara Tindall.

Mike, 42, who married Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter in July 2011 - just three months after Prince William's iconic wedding to Kate Middleton, spoke movingly about Zara, 40, while raising awareness of Parkinson's disease on BBC Breakfast, Wednesday.

Mike's father, Philip, 75, has suffered from Parkinson's for the past 20 years and has undergone numerous treatments and suffered an extensive physical decline. However, throughout the emotionally fraught period, Zara has remained a constant source of strength of support to the former England rugby star.

"She's been brilliant," Mike told BBC breakfast from his parent's home in Yorkshire, England, where he traveled to celebrate his dad's 75th birthday. Due to the U.K.'s strict coronavirus regulations, it was the first time he'd been able to see his father and mother, Linda, in the past six months.

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"She sort of gets it," Mike added about Zara's support. "She sort of keeps me on my toes as well 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."

"Yeah, she's good at making sure I stay on my toes about what I'm trying to do as well," he added.

Mike's dad first started to develop signs of Parkinson's around the same time the rugby star reached the peak of his sporting career by winning the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

"It didn't really dawn on me what Parkinson's was," Mike admitted to BBC Breakfast about the early days of his dad's battle with the disease. "If you looked at people who were prevalent with Parkinson's at that time, you would say Muhammad Ali, and you looked at my dad and looked at Muhammad Ali and it's not the same person, (so you thought) surely it's not the same disease?"

He continued, "Then, you know, sort of life went on. I was 25, rugby was going really well, and you were focused on that."

Mike Tindall and Zara Tindall
Mike Tindall and Zara Tindall

Shutterstock Zara and Mike Tindall

The first signs that Philip was being seriously affected by the disease began to emerge at Mike and Zara's wedding at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland.

"When we got married in 2011, you could see the effects were starting to sort of grow on him in terms of he's a smaller man than he ever was," Mike told BBC Breakfast, adding that his dad's physical decline has primarily been caused by "curvature of the spine."

"He had to have surgery on that, and then slowly from that, over the last 10 years, there's been loads of other problems that have come across because of it," he added.

Mike and Zara Tindall
Mike and Zara Tindall

Mike Tindall/Instagram Zara and Mike Tindall

To help his father battle the disease, Mike has devoted his spare time to raising funds for medical research through the charity Cure Parkinson's, of which he is also patron.

This has included spending the whole of the early summer in 2020 cycling up steep British peaks, helping to raise nearly $1 million in the process.

"He is an absolutely fantastic human being. He's an altruistic, philanthropic, charitable guy," Will Cook, Cure Parkinson's CEO, told PEOPLE in October 2020. "He combines calmness and compassion for others."

Mike Tindall
Mike Tindall

Mike Tindall/Instagram Mike Tindall

He's also become something of an expert home-schooler to daughters Mia, 7, and Lena, 2 during lockdown -- and was even on-hand to help deliver the royal couple's baby son, Lucas, in March, after Zara suddenly went into labor on the couple's bathroom floor.

"Fortunately the midwife got there in time so I didn't have to go down to the area... the downside...the wrong end, I got to stay at the top end and be supportive," he told Good Morning Britain in April.

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Being a dad of three has also led Mike to reflect on how his father's Parkinson's diagnosis has impacted his own life and that of his young family.

"It is one of those things, if I look back I take them for granted, my mum and dad," Mike told BBC Breakfast. "They went to every international... They wore most of the nerves for me. They were always white as a ghost before the game.

He continued, "He [Philip] would love to play more with the grandkids, he'd love to be able to pick them up, throw them around."