David Owen_-_ITG"Are we going to go on about my family the whole time?"

With this sharp riposte to an opening question by Martyn Ziegler, the intrepid PA correspondent, Zara Phillips ensured that the media conference, which followed the conclusion of the three-day event in Greenwich, was not dominated by the British Royals.

You could see her point: the families of her teammates were present in the Park too; and it must be galling the way some photographers appeared to have eyes only for Will, Harry and Kate in the stands, and not the drama unfolding in the arena.

But there is no getting away from the fact that the British royal family was a legitimate part of the London 2012 eventing story.

Not only did Phillips herself compete, finishing eighth after a brilliant cross-country phase yesterday, but she and her teammates received their silver medals from her mother, Princess Anne, a current International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and former Olympic athlete.

Prince William_Kate__Prince_Harry_at_equestrianPrince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry show their support to Team GB at today's equestrian

More than that, her hopes of an individual medal, and the team's aspirations of winning gold, took a hit when her mount High Kingdom dislodged a pole forming part of a fence – Post Boxes and Penny Black – that bore an image of her great-great-great-great grandmother (Queen Victoria, depicted on the famous stamp).

Horses and royalty go together like, well, Germany and sporting dominance over England/Great Britain.

If one needed further evidence, there was Princess Haya, President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), presenting the flowers to the medallists, to the strains, yes, of Chariots of Fire, omnipresent at London 2012, but more appropriate, if you stop to think about it, for equestrian events than other
Olympic sports.

Team GB_win_silver_for_equestrianTeam GB celebrate their silver medals in team eventing

Such was the back-music, but the day's sport that ended with Germany winning its first two gold medals of the Games, along with Sandra Auffarth's individual bronze, was in every way worthy of this grand stage.

It says something about the keenness of the competition that the destiny of the individual gold medal in an event that lasts as long as an English county cricket match was not decided until the very last fence of the very last round.

Until Sweden's Sara Algotsson Ostholt turned to address this fence on Wega, her spring-heeled grey mare, the individual gold had been heading in her direction.

Sara Algotsson_Ostholt_of_SwedenSweden's Sara Algotsson Ostholt narrowly missed out on winning gold with a mistake at the last fence

But something was wrong; Wega had flown too fast through the preceding Stonehenge triple and now Algotsson Ostholt was fighting furiously for control.

A final effort, a high-pitched shout from the rider, and disaster struck.

The first red white and blue pole of the fence, entitled London montage and featuring four evocative old-fashioned Narnia-style street-lamps, wobbled ominously in its cups and agonisingly toppled to the ground.

This handed the gold to Germany's Michael Jung on his 30th birthday, riding a horse whose name was simplicity itself: Sam.

(In an event many of whose equine competitors were lumbered with names such as "Apollo WD Wendi Kurt" and "Tom Bombadill Too", it is hard not to feel that other riders might think about following Jung's – and Algotsson Ostholt's – example: simple names please.)

Michael Jung_of_GermanyMichael Jung celebrates after becoming the first person to hold world, European and Olympic individual eventing titles

With British riders lying third and fourth going into the event's second and final show jumping phase, there was still plenty to interest the partisan home supporters, whether members of the Royal Family or not.

Alas, both Tina Cook – now a triple Olympic medallist - and Mary King had the very first fence down, all but ending their chances.

They finished just ahead of Phillips in fifth and sixth places.

There was no Greenwich fairy tale either for Kiwi veteran Mark Todd, striving to win his third individual Olympic eventing gold medal 28 years after his first.

His first show-jumping round on his young horse Campino did not go well and he dropped back to finish 12th, although, like his teammates, he had the very considerable consolation of the team bronze – not bad for a man who is six months older than Seb Coe, the London 2012 chairman.

The German flavour of the medal proceedings was accentuated when IOC member Thomas Bach, a man seen as a possible successor to IOC President Jacques Rogge, presented the individual medals.

Who knows? Perhaps there will be another German victory next year in Buenos Aires, when Rogge's successor is set to be elected.

David Owen worked for 20 years for the Financial Times in the United States, Canada, France and the UK. He ended his FT career as sports editor after the 2006 World Cup and is now freelancing, including covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 World Cup. Owen's Twitter feed can be accessed by clicking here.