Zara Phillips, Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter, thrilled to be in Olympics

A member of the Equestrian team Great Britain and the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips speaks to reporters during a press conference at King William Theatre in London Tuesday June 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)
Elizabeth Dalziel

(CBS/AP) LONDON - Zara Phillips, the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, will skip the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics together with her team because competition in her event begins the following day.

The 31-year-old signaled to reporters Tuesday that she wants to be treated just like any other Olympian when she competes in the 2012 London Games - and that means she will be staying in the Athletes Village.

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Phillips told a press conference that she was very excited to be part of Britain's eventing team, a difficult discipline that tests dressage, cross-country and show jumping ability.

"It will be great to be part of the Olympics and get the atmosphere and the buzz of being a part of it," she told reporters only strides away from the competition venue at Greenwich park.

"In the past, the equestrian has been based quite far out and this time they have made a big effort to have it as part of the Olympics and really nearby to the village, so it will be great to have the atmosphere and benefit from that," Phillips added.

At the London Games she'll be staying with others on the team - Tina Cook, William Fox-Pitt, Georgina French and Mary King. They are fierce competitors most times but a unit for the games.

Phillips is aware that a lot of attention will be coming her way this summer because of her royal ties, but she seemed at pains not to make much of that. It took several persistent questions before she acknowledged that the queen was "very proud."

Both of Phillips' parents were British Olympians in equestrian events. Her mother, Princess Anne, competed at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, while her father, Mark Phillips, won team gold at the Munich Games in 1972 and team silver in 1988 at the games in Seoul.

When asked if she had spoken with her parents about their experiences in the Olympics, Phillips was almost comical in her brevity after saying they hadn't discussed it: "Mum fell off and Dad is not a big talker."

Even so, her delight in being part of the team was clear.

"I'm massively excited and honored to be in the team with these guys, as well as still keeping my fingers crossed, as there are still a few weeks to go and you know what horses are like," she said.

Phillips was named last week to the eventing team. It's a grueling sport, combining the precise balletic movements of dressage, the athletic display of show jumping and the endurance and speed needed for cross country courses.

The former world champion and her horse, High Kingdom, had been considered a long shot until recent weeks. Yet the 14th in line for the British throne defied the odds, clawing her way to a spot onto the team after a strong performance at Bramham in northeast England.

Her nomination to the Olympic team was ratified Monday by the British Olympics Association, Hello! magazine reports.

"It was awesome to actually get the call," Phillips said, according to the magazine. "Now we can kick on to the Games and I just hope High Kingdom keeps on getting better."

The moment is sweet for Phillips in part because she had to withdraw from competing in the 2008 Beijing Games when her horse, Toytown, became injured.

Will Connell, the performance director for the U.K. equestrian team, put to rest any suggestion that Phillips had been selected because of her royal ties.

"Zara is on the team because she is an outstanding athlete," he said.

The Olympic Games run from July 27-Aug. 12.