Zara Tindall's OTHER secret half sister

Zara Tindall’s OTHER secret half-sister! Mark Phillips’ lovechild grew up in New Zealand thinking her father was dead until the truth was revealed (and she’s never met Princess Anne’s children)

  • Felicity Wade is love child of Captain Mark Phillips, Princess Anne’s ex husband
  • READ MORE: Zara Tindall’s secret sister you’ve never heard of! Stephanie Phillips, 25, stayed out the spotlight despite enjoying luxury lifestyle 

While Zara Tindall and Peter Philips are known for their remarkably close sibling bond, they have another sister with whom it is believed they rarely interact with. 

For Felicity Wade, 37, née Tonkin, was the love child of Captain Mark Phillips, the former husband of Princess Anne – making her a half-sister with Zara, 42, and Peter. 

She was reportedly conceived after Mark had a one-night stand with New Zealand art teacher Heather Tonkin in 1984 – while still married to the princess.

When she fell  pregnant, Mark reportedly told her to have an abortion, but Heather kept the baby, and she was told her father was dead. 

It was only when she was completing a school project that she learned of his true identity – though she is believed never to have spoken to her father.   

Felicity Wade (née Tonkin) with her husband Tristan Wade their son James who was born in 2017 

Mark and Princess Anne, who married at Westminster Abbey on November 14, 1973 as an estimated 500million people watched on.

However it was the familial love of horses that brought Felicity’s mother, Heather, into contact with Captain Phillips in the first place.

The pair met in 1983 when she took a riding clinic in her home city taught by Princess Anne’s then-husband.

They became friends, meeting again when Mark returned to Auckland the following year. 

He invited her to his room, and Heather, who was infatuated with the army officer, enjoyed a hotel tryst.

However, their time together resulted in Heather falling pregnant, and she later claimed that when she told Mark, he said she should have an abortion.

Heather chose to keep the baby, whom she nicknamed ‘Bunny’, while Mark refused to be named on Felicity’s birth certificate as her father. 

Felicity would grow up thinking her father was dead, a lie her mother told her upon  the advice of one of Mark’s aides. 

Captain Mark Philips is the father of Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall, as well as Felicity (pictured L-R: Mark Philips and Zara Tindall at the Cheltenham Festival in 2022)

It wasn’t until the child was eight, and conducting a school project on her family history, did Heather feel compelled to tell her daughter the truth, showing her a biography of Mark Phillips written by newsreader Angela Rippon. 

And in addition, he started paying Heather £6,000 a year through an associate for what his accounts described as ‘equestrian consultancy’.

However when she reached school age, the payments reportedly started becoming erratic.

This prompted Heather to engage lawyers, and finally, to speak out in public, leading to somewhat of a furore. 

While Princess Anne and Mark had separated by this time, palace courtiers feared the scandal could impact the monarchy – which had already been the subject of stories of marital discord, due to the warring between Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

After going public, it emerged that Mark’s aides had tried to keep Heather quiet, causing further embarrassment for the Royal Family.

On advice from her lawyer, Heather taped five phone calls with Mark’s business agent.

During them, he dismissed her concerns and threatened to sue her if she tried to put Mark’s name on the birth certificate.

In one of the phone calls, the agent told Heather, ‘if you want to cause a flap, everyone’s just going to deny it’.

Felicity (pictured in 2011) shares her half sister Zara Tindall’s love of horses, and has been described as a highly skilled and dedicated specialist equine vet

He went further saying ‘when this thing hits the fan, your daughter’s life will be ruined’, and adding that that the ‘clout’ lay with Mark.

The £6,000 a year payments described as ‘consultancy fees’ – which stalled when Felicity reached school age – were what the agent referred to a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ and Heather referred to as ‘hush money’.

Speaking in 1991 about why she went public, and why she threatened Mark with legal action, Heather said she was ‘doing what [she was] doing for [her] child’.

‘I hope and pray Mark will do the right thing and make a proper and legally-binding settlement on her, she added.

‘I wish I could wake up one morning in the knowledge that the record had been put straight and I don’t have to worry any more.’

A DNA test that year proved that Mark was Felicity’s father, leading to a settlement worth a reported £350,000, which is believed to have been used to pay for fees at one of Auckland’s finest private schools, as well as for property investments to secure Felicity’s future.

Heather had spoken about the stresses of raising a child alone, revealing that ‘nothing can compensate for the tears [she had] cried while trying to plan for Bunny’s future, when at any moment [she] could find [herself] penniless’.

According to Heather Tonkin (pictured with Felicity), she wanted to get Mark to accept he had fathered the child, and to have his name on her birth certificate

Heather (pictured shopping with her daughter Felicity) has said the child deserved to know the truth about who her father was

She added that her ambition had been to ‘get Mark’s public acceptance of [Felicity] and to be able to enter his name on her birth certificate’, and said that her daughter had believed that her father was dead.   

‘She is entitled to know the truth,’ Heather said.

Even after the story went public, Mark wanted nothing to do with Felicity, and would never send her a birthday card or enquire about her health. 

Princess Ann and Mark split, and the father and daughter are understood not to have been in touch, despite being in close proximity at an event in 1999.

During the three-day event, at which Heather and Felicity were spectators, and Mark the course designer, the three are reported to have been within 15 yards of each other.

But the Captain had appeared oblivious to their presence and, when asked by a journalist if he would meet them, had brusquely replied: ‘Wrong subject.’

While New Zealand-based Felicity may be 12,000 miles away from her half-sister, and a social world away, the half sisters seem to share some things in common in addition to sharing the same father. 

Zara, who is just four years Felicity’s senior, is famous for her love of horses, even becoming an Olympic medalist, winning silver when competing with the British Equestrian team for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

And Felicity too is reportedly a lover of all things equine, and is a keen rider and a  specialist equine vet, whose clients speak highly of, praising her skills and dedication.

Meanwhile, her husband Tristan Wade is an accomplished polo player – who has played in front of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor.

The couple are believed to share a ten-acre, £1.5 million property in Auckland, where they keep a number of horses. 

Despite their shared interest in all things equestrian it is thought that Felicity and her half-sister Zara have never exchanged a word – despite the latter making several trips to New Zealand for work and holiday.

And in a further twist, because Felicity’s husband Tristan plays polo, he played the sport on some of the very same fields as Princes William and Harry. His handicap of three is two above the royal brothers’.

Not long after the pair tied the knot, Tristan – one of three polo playing brothers from Sussex (his elder brother Adrian is a professional player and coach who has represented England many times) – headed back to Britain where he played in a number of  tournaments.

They included the Royal Windsor Cup at the Guards Polo Club, where many of the matches were watched by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. 

It is not known whether Felicity accompanied him to the UK, and was also among the spectators as he played. 

Two years after their wedding, in 2017, the couple welcomed their son in 2017. However, Mark is not believed to have met his grandson.

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