‘Look at how fantastic Kate looks on her tour of Australia and New Zealand’, everyone exclaims. ‘And she only gave birth 9 months ago!’ Yes, the Duchess of Cambridge certainly does looks lovely. But surely even more credit is due to Zara Phillips, who this weekend rode in the Symm International Horse Trials in Hambledon, just three months after giving birth. So far, Zara has been doing a fantastic job of making motherhood look like a breeze – baby Mia in one arm, champagne (and/or milk bottle) in the other.

Zara is one in a long line of royals who don’t seem to mind breaking the rules ­– particularly when it comes to horses. Zara rode until she was over four months pregnant, provoking a flurry of articles on the rights and wrongs of riding during pregnancy.

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The Queen – who celebrated her 88th birthday yesterday and is also a keen rider ­– has also provoked complaints because despite riding since she was four, she is rarely seen wearing a helmet. Even Radio 4 Women’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray has waded in on the topic, making her views clear in a recent tweet:

The Queen does, however, make sure that her grandchildren are suitably hatted-up when riding, so we can be sure that she does take her duties seriously. It’s not just the women in the family either. Prince Philip, a keen horseman who played polo for years, was back to driving his pair of carriage ponies nine weeks after his emergency heart surgery in 2012.

The Queen riding in a headscarf on Ascot Racecourse. Image: PA

The Queen riding in a headscarf on Ascot Racecourse. Image: PA

Yes, of course these things are dangerous. Horses inherently are, and no one could possibly argue with that. Anyone who rides is aware of the dangers. But if the Queen doesn’t want to wear a riding hat, then who are we to force her to do so? In a world where almost everything we do has its own little set of health and safety diktats, Zara and her family are a breath of fresh air. And a very refreshing one at that.

Tags: Horses, Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Family, The Queen, Zara Phillips