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Royal Olympians: Zara Phillips, Prince Albert II of Monaco & More (Photos)

Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Zara Phillips will be competing in the London Games. From Prince Albert of Monaco to King Juan Carlos of Spain, see other regal athletes.

Getty Images (2); AP Photo

Getty Images (2); AP Photo

Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Zara Phillips will be competing in the London Games. From Prince Albert of Monaco to King Juan Carlos of Spain, see other regal athletes.

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Zara Phillips

In the year of her grandmother’s Diamond Jubilee, Zara Phillips will be competing in the London Olympics as part of the British equestrian team. She follows in the footsteps (and hoofprints) of her mother, Princess Anne, who rode at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, and her father, Captain Mark Phillips, who won a gold medal with the British team in 1972 and a silver at the 1988 Games in Seoul. “I'm very excited, honored, but also nervous,” 31-year-old Zara admitted recently. “A horse is a pretty unpredictable animal and it is difficult when you are trying to get it and yourself into prime fitness. You are going that extra mile; you do the extra training and, unfortunately, things can happen.”

AP Photo

Juan Carlos I, Queen Sofia, Infanta Cristina, and Felipe of Spain

Forming their own modern-day armada, four members of Spain’s royal family competed in sailing at the Summer Olympics. In 1972 Juan Carlos I finished 15th in the Dragon class. Twelve years earlier, his future wife, Queen Sofia, was a reserve member of the sailing team for her native Greece. Then in 1988, their daughter, Infanta Cristina, sailed for Spain at the Seoul Olympics, where she carried her country’s flag. And four years later, her brother Felipe, heir to the throne, also sailed for his country and was the standard bearer at the opening ceremonies. No one in Spain’s royal family has won a medal.

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Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Princess of Monaco

Call this one a mixed Olympics marriage—Prince Albert II of Monaco competed in five straight Winter Games, from 1988 to 2002, as part of his nation’s bobsled team, while his recent bride, Princess Charlene was a member of South Africa’s swim team at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.  The Olympic spirit deep runs in Albert’s family—both his maternal uncle and grandfather won medals in Olympic rowing, and he has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1985. And despite being royalty, Prince Albert never requested special treatment when he competed; he stayed in the dorm rooms along with the other members of his team. “"I think it's a must. It's part of the Olympic experience," he told ESPN. “Those who aren't staying there are missing an important part of the experience."

AP Photo

Princess Haya of Jordan

Before the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Princess Haya of Jordan was prepared to withdraw from her country’s show-jumping team because her father, King Hussein, was dying. So she wrote to a former Olympic champion, Muhammad Ali, to ask for advice. “He was the only person I confided in,” Princess Haya admitted many years later. “I was thinking about stopping competing and pulling out of the Games. I never thought [my letter] would get to him or that he would ever read it. He replied to me and said I must go ahead. He subsequently discovered my identity and looked me up in Sydney. He was very kind and very supportive during the Games.” Now married to the ruler of Dubai, Princess Haya is retired from show jumping but she remains one of the most successful racehorse owners in the world.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

King Olav V and King Harald V of Norway

As the crown prince of Norway, the future King Olav V won a gold medal at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam in the 6 meter sailing class. Nearly 30 years later, he ascended the throne and evidently passed on the Olympic gene to his son, Harald, who represented his country in yachting at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympics. But three years after he became king, Harald V, had perhaps his greatest Olympic moment—when he opened the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

AP Photo

Anne, Princess Royal

An accomplished equestrian, Princess Anne, the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, won the individual gold at the 1971 European Eventing Championships and took a silver in 1975. The following year, she represented Great Britain in eventing at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, where she rode the Queen’s horse Goodwill. This summer, her daughter, Zara Phillips, will be a member of Great Britain’s equestrian team at the London Games.

Julian Herbert / Getty Images

Princess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg

Having been a reserve rider on the 2000 Danish Olympic dressage team, Princess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, niece of the Queen of Denmark, made her country’s 2008 team—and received a bronze medal. Princess Nathalie also qualified for the London Olympics, where she will be riding her horse Digby and competing against her distant cousin Zara Phillips.

Marwant Naamani, AFP / Getty Images

Prince Faisal Alshalan and Prince Abdullah bin Mitleb

“It is good to be underestimated,” says Prince Faisal Alshalan, who will be riding for Saudi Arabia’s equestrian team this summer in his second consecutive Olympics. And he’s not the only member of the Saudi royal family who will be saddling up in London: Prince Abdullah bin Mitleb will also be competing.

Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia

A century ago, Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia competed for Germany in the country’s last Olympic appearance until 1928. As part of Germany’s equestrian team, the dashing prince won a bronze medal.

Keystone, Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Constantine II of Greece

As crown prince of Greece, Constantine won a gold medal for his country in sailing (Dragon class) at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He ascended the throne four years later, but in 1973 the monarchy was abolished. In 2004, Constantine II made a triumphant return from exile when the Olympics returned to Athens. “I remember I had the privilege of holding the flag, when our team came in and the roar of the crowd was something that is still in my ears,” he told Katie Couric about the 1960 Games. “Getting the gold medal, it was the greatest feeling in my life, other than getting engaged to my wife. And to hear the national anthem of your country, and you know you are not doing it for yourself, you are doing it for your country, is very important.”