They spoke exclusively to the paper’s Weekend magazine and spoke frankly about their lives, marriage and their thoughts on starting a family.
The Queen’s granddaughter and her Gloucester rugby ace boyfriend invited sports reporter Gabrielle Lewis and photographer Paul Nicholls to their Gatcombe cottage on the Princess Royal’s estate.
The scoop followed much persistence by Gabrielle, who covers rugby union side Gloucester and repeatedly asked Mike for an interview with him and equestrian world champion Zara.
Tanya Gledhill, editor of Weekend magazine, told HoldtheFrontPage: “Gabrielle spent 18 months chasing the story so when it came up we were absolutely delighted.
“She knows Mike through the rugby club and knows him very well. Her persistence paid off in the end.”
She added: “It’s testament to the quality of Weekend magazine and the Echo and The Citizen that they chose to speak to us.
“We are very proud of Gabrielle – she did a fantastic job.”
During the interview the couple spoke about their sporting achievements, their daily routines and favourite pastimes, and media attention.
They also revealed that there were no plans “in the pipeline” for an engagement, and they would wait until the time was right before starting a family.
As well as a three-page interview and photographs in Weekend magazine, the story also featured on the front page of Saturday’s Citizen and Echo and was later picked up by many of the nationals including the Express.