By Louise Eccles
She bit her bottom lip and fought back the tears as she attempted to maintain a certain amount of royal decorum.
But attempts at a stiff upper lip failed miserably when newlywed Zara Philips broke down and cried as she officially retired her beloved horse Toytown.
It was with Toytown, fondly known as ‘Noddy’ or ‘Ginger’, that she was crowned world eventing champion five years ago.
Sorrow: Zara's last parade with Toytown
Triumph: World champions in 2006
Yesterday, the Queen’s granddaughter paraded the horse for the last time, at the final day of this year’s Festival of British Eventing, at Gatcombe Park, in Stroud.
Miss Philips, who married England rugby player Mike Tindall just over a week ago, described Toytown as ‘the complete horse’.
Winning team: Zara Philips cried as she paraded Toytown at the Festival of British Eventing. The pair were crowned world eventing champions in 2006
Firm favourite: Zara has 15 horses including but she described Toytown as ‘the complete horse’
She said: ‘I think it will be quite difficult. It’s the end of an era.
‘He was the horse of a lifetime for me. We grew up together, we went through the levels together, and it all just seemed to go our way.’
‘His movement, his character, it all combined to make the complete horse. And cross-country, he was just a machine.’
She added: ‘I don’t think I am ever going to find another horse quite like him, but hopefully others that will be good enough to go to the same level as he did.’
End of an era: Zara said Toytown was ‘the horse of a lifetime’ but he is now retiring after suffering several injuries
The pair won individual and team gold at the 2005 European Championships, before conquering the world title a year later in Germany.
The horse’s final appearance for Great Britain came in the 2007 Europeans in Italy, where he finished sixth individually and helped secure another team gold.
But at the age of 18, and after suffering several injuries, the chestnut gelding has finally retired from the ring.
Miss Philips, who has kept her maiden name for professional purposes, married Tindall at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh a week last Saturday.
A wild reception followed at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. One guest claimed it had ‘rained champagne’ and the newlyweds did not make it to bed until at least 2pm the next day.
The couple have put honeymoon plans on hold while they concentrate on their sporting careers - but they are clearly making the most of married life.
Yesterday they put on a very public display of affection at Gatcombe as they watched the show from the main arena. Miss Philips was photographed rubbing her husband’s shaved head and wrapping her arms around him, before kissing him on the lips and cheek.
Toytown was spotted as a seven-year-old by Zara’s father, Captain Mark Phillips. He was purchased a few years later for Zara and they quickly struck up a relationship.