Mike Tindall praises Zara for helping him understand how Parkinson's affects his dad

ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Zara Tindall arrives with husband Mike on day one of the Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot Racecourse on June 15, 2021 in Ascot, England. A total of twelve thousand racegoers made up of owners and the public are permitted to attend the meeting due to it being an Events Research Programme (ERP) set up by the Government due to the Coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Zara Tindall arrives with husband Mike on day one of the Royal Ascot. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Mike Tindall has praised his wife Zara for helping him understand more about Parkinson's disease, following his father's diagnosis.

The former England rugby player has been speaking openly about his father Philip's battle with the illness over recent months and praised his royal wife for her help.

His father was first diagnosed in 2003 and Tindall admitted he didn't know much about the illness at the time.

Tindall told BBC Breakfast: "[It] didn't really dawn on me what Parkinson's was. If you looked at people who were prevalent with Parkinson's at that time, you'd say Muhammad Ali, and you looked at my dad and you looked at Muhammad Ali – well, it's not the same person, it's not the same disease.

"Or I don't know how Michael J Fox was back then, but [that's] another name that sprang out who you knew had it.

"And then, you know, life went on. 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 starting to grow on him.

"He's a smaller man than he ever was, at the moment. Curvature of the spine, and he had to have surgery on that. Slowly from sort of that point, over the last 10 years there's been loads of other problems that have come across because of it."

Watch: Mike Tindall loves looking after his son!

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He added of Zara: "She's been brilliant.

"She sort of gets it and she 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."

Earlier this year, Mike Tindall worked with the Duchess of Gloucester, who is married to the Queen's cousin, to raise awareness of the illness, and the need for respite for those who care for the sick.

He said: "I would say [my father's] had a really... tough five years, maybe even longer actually.

"It’s our 10-year wedding anniversary and it was that year that… through his Parkinson’s, his spine in his back is obviously curved, and then it caused problems with his discs and he had to have a wheelchair at the wedding. He could walk some bits of it."

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Zara Tindall and Mike Tindall arrive for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh's funeral at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, United Kingdom. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born 10 June 1921, in Greece. He served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He married the then Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947 and was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King VI. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. His funeral takes place today at Windsor Castle with only 30 guests invited due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Mark Large-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Mike and Zara Tindall at the funeral of Prince Philip in April in Windsor Castle. (Mark Large-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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The Tindalls don't carry out royal duties, but do play a role in family life with the royals and were both at the funeral of Prince Philip in April.

They make their money from sponsorships and work outside the royal fold. They live on the Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire, which was given to Princess Anne by the Queen when she married her first husband.

Watch: Tindall tells of his parents’ lockdown isolation to raise Parkinson’s awareness