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Captain Mark Phillips, US eventing coach, unrepentant over affair with junior staffer

Phillips, 63, father of royal Zara Phillips who is competes for Great Britain in Olympic equestrian, said he was ''not out to win a popularity contest.''
Captain Mark PhillipsEnlarge
Britain's eventing individual champion and granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, Zara Phillips (L) chats with her father and coach of the US eventing team, Mark Phillips at the Equestrian arena in Greenwich, London, on July 25, 2012, two days before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Just days before Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter Zara Phillips competes for Great Britain in Olympic equestrian, her father Captain Mark Phillips — coach of the US eventing team — has come clean on his affair with a rider 30 years his junior.

Phillips, 63, has left his second wife, Sandy, for fellow equestrian Lauren Hough, 35, also a member of the US team’s coaching staff, according to the UK Daily Mail.

The story broke on the same day as Phillips was photographed with his daughter, Zara — from his marriage to Princess Anne — in the Greenwich dressage arena in London.

American riders coached by Phillips will be competing against Zara this weekend, the Mail noted.

In what the Daily Mail called a display of "breath-taking arrogance," Phillips told Country Life magazine in an interview that he was ''not out to win a popularity contest.''

He said it was "sad" that his ongoing affair with Hough had led to calls for his resignation when it was revealed earlier this year. He will leave his job when the Olympics is over.

However, Phillips said he ignored ''uninformed and unidentified opinion'' about his personal life.

"I don't read chatrooms and all that rubbish as it's mostly uninformed and unidentified opinion, which won't change my life," said Phillips.

"I have the total support of the team and that's what matters. I'm not out to win a popularity contest.

"It's sad when a sport can't get behind their coaches going into an Olympics, and if that's the future, I'm not sad to be leaving."

He has a daughter from his second marriage in 1997 — Stephanie, aged 14. His first marriage to Princess Anne lasted 19 years. 

He insists that "England is home" and denies that he has bought a home in Florida, the Australian Associated Press reported.

"Aston Farm is home, England is home and, for the record, I don't own a house in Florida and I'm not about to buy one," he said.

"I'm going to continue working in America, but I'm looking forward to spending more time working here."

Of his sporting responsibilities to the US eventing team, he said: "I am 110 per cent committed to helping the USA win a medal. But if that’s not good enough, then I hope the British will be on top.

"If I can, I will watch Zara, but you’re always so busy at a championship. The American squad will have my full attention."

More from GlobalPost: Zara Phillips to compete in London Olympics

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/world-at-play/captain-mark-phillips-sex-affair-london-olympics-equestrian-zara-lauren-hough-queen