Zara Phillips – the Queen’s granddaughter and respected British equestrian – and Mike Tindall – a professional rugby player – are expecing their first baby together, BBC News has revealed. The couple married in July 2011 at Canongate Kirk, in Edinburgh.

Zara PhillipsPhillips is expecting her first child

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: "Mr and Mrs Mike Tindall are very pleased to announce that Zara Tindall is expecting a baby in the new year." It added that the couple's parents, the Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips, and Mr Phillip and Mrs Linda Tindall, and members of both families were "delighted" with the news. "This baby will be the first child for Mike and Zara and the third grandchild for the Princess Royal."

Tindall expressed his delight on Twitter, posting: “Thanks for all the kind messages, we are very excited and I agree with you all that hopefully he/she won’t have my nose #Glawsfamily”. David Cameron didn’t tweet about it, but the Prime Minister’s official spokesman described the announcement as "quite terrific news," telling reporters, "The prime minister will send his very, very best wishes to the happy couple."

Mike Tindall and Zara PhillipsIt's the first child for Phillips and Tindall

The sporty couple met during England's Rugby World Cup-winning campaign in Australia in 2003. Tindall used to be a star for England, and is still in the game in a player/coach role at Gloucester. Phillips won individual gold in three-day eventing at the World Equestrian Games in Germany in 2006.