They didn’t care who saw this sweet, funny display on Sunday. What better sign could you have of a merry marriage: a couple so happy in their own skins and with each other they prove it with an instinctive, loving pat?
Yes, the gesture might imply they fancy each other, too — but believe me, that’s not what matters. What’s important is what lasts in the best relationships: affection and intimacy.
This isn’t the kind of public display we’ve seen when an MP or celebrity, who’s done something he shouldn’t, makes sure he is ‘snapped’ with his arm placed strategically around his poor wife’s shoulders. Or when Cheryl (I can’t keep up with the surnames) frolics with the latest partner, knowing the paparazzi lenses are trained — and then bang goes another relationship.
Or when a rich guy’s arm draped over the young trophy blonde boasts: ‘Mine.’ We can all see through the cynicism.
Zara and Mike are the last people to bother about making an impression. Why would they? They might be a part of the extended Royal Family, but the equestrian and the former rugby player are as unstuffy as they come.
When they’re snapped, showing their affection in public, which is impossible to avoid nowadays, those moments are still utterly private. It’s all about them and what they feel about each other — so who cares who sees?
They’ve been married for seven years, have two little girls, the youngest of whom was born seven weeks ago, and the affection between them is palpable. A casually placed hand on a knee there, a loving kiss on the cheek there, it comes so naturally to them.
Thirteen years of writing an advice column has given me (sadly) more glimpses into unhappy relationships than I ever dreamed possible.
Asked about common themes in failing relationships, I sometimes generalise that men’s problems often centre on the lack of sex, whereas women yearn for emotional intimacy.
So many women — and some men, to be fair — desperately crave a loving hand held out and a gentle voice saying: ‘Are you all right, love?’ How I wish the husbands who resent their wives’ ‘coldness’ would realise that if experience tells a woman that he’s holding out his arms only because he thinks it will lead to sex, then she might well avoid that cuddle.
But 100 small signs of affection and concern soften the heart. They are the small candles lighting the darkness.
Such gestures say: ‘You know I think you’re great — and I’m here for you. Always.’ That’s what I read in the Tindalls’ body language. This man is still clearly crazy about his wife, and she about him. They remind us that the world feels a warmer, lighter place when we witness the intimacy of others.
It tells us that despite the sadness all around, lasting love is possible.
To me, one of the most beautiful sights in the world is a very elderly couple walking slowly along the street, hand in hand.