PIPPA’S BIG DAY
They’ve hired Posh’s spin doctor. Carole’s the party planner. Naughty Uncle Gary is invited, but will Harry’s Meghan be there? Just don’t mention the best man’s six-in-a-bed orgies!
She was a sensation as a bridesmaid, now Pippa Middleton is tying the knot, in Britain’s society wedding of the year.
Pin your fascinators in place and get the Bolly on ice: next month Pippa Middleton, the ultimate bridesmaid, steps out of big sister Kate’s shadow and becomes a bride.
It will take something special to obliterate the memories of that scene-stealing trot behind Kate, down the aisle of Westminster Abbey, in her slitheringly well-fitted dress in 2011.
So canny Pippa, 33, and mother Carole Middleton, are determined to make her notquite-royal spring wedding on Saturday, May 20, a society event to remember – and the last word in good taste. They’ve turned down a “name your price” deal with Hello!, hired a ferocious new publicist and ordered a very haute gown indeed.
But some questions remain: will an allegedly frosty relationship with brother James’s girlfriend, Donna Air, affect the happy event? What of Prince Harry’s plus one, Meghan Markle; won’t her rumoured presence distract from the happy couple? And will the royal nephew and niece, George and Charlotte, steal the whole show?
Here’s our A to Z of what we know about Pippa’s big day.
A is for the $332,000, four-carat Asscher cut diamond (a stepped, square-cut) engagement ring presented to Pippa by fiance James Matthews, 41. He’s a hugely wealthy hedge-fund manager with a $28 million ChelseaAis house where they will live.
A also for for Donna Air, once a Geordie actress, now the rather plummily spoken girlfriend of Pippa’s brother James, 29. Despite speculation about a “no-ring, nobring” policy (no guests can bring partners they are not engaged or married to), Miss Air, 37, will “certainly” be among those invited, along with her teenage daughter Freya by casino heir Damian Aspinall.
B is for best man, former Made In Chelsea star Spencer Matthews, 27, who is the groom’s “black sheep” brother. The grinning can’t-keep-it-in-his-pants twit has boasted about cocaine-taking and six-in-a-bed orgies, dropped out of TV show I’m A Celebrity citing steroid addiction, and allegedly became embroiled in a love triangle in another reality series, The Jump (with model Vogue Williams and Olympian Jade Jones).
Spencer will not have a date for the wedding, even though he has been with Vogue Williams for two months.
She has reportedly not been invited – though a spokesman for the model asserts she has a modelling job that day anyway. A source claims: “Pippa’s view is that it wouldn’t be appropriate for her to be there after a few months of dating. It’s clear that Pippa doesn’t want to be outshone by any TV babes.” (Another Matthews brother, Michael, died in 1999 at 22, in a storm, descending from Mt Everest. He had just become the youngest Briton to conquer the mountain.)
C is for church, which is the 12th-century St Mark’s in Englefield, Berkshire, 10km from Bucklebury where Pippa grew up. It is on a private estate owned by Tory MP Richard Benyon, so no joy for stickybeaks.
D is for dress. Designer Giles Deacon was spotted visiting Pippa and her mother Carole just before Christmas, laden with garment bags. However, Deacon, 47, says: “I can never really comment on rumours. Until things are confirmed, it’s just rumours.” A couture dress from a designer like Deacon could, it’s estimated, cost upwards of $80,000.
Likewise, society milliner Stephen Jones was this week seen leaving James and Pippa’s house, carrying an enormous bag – hinting that a spectacular headdress and veil may be in the offing.
E is for the groom’s hedge fund, Eden Rock Capital Management, named after his parents’ luxurious hotel, Eden Rock, on the Caribbean island of St Barths. Based in Mayfair, James Matthews’s hedge fund, which invests in other hedge funds, has more than $1.83 billion of investments and numerous subsidiaries, some based in tax havens around the globe.
F is for flower girl. This is the role everyone assumed would go to Princess Charlotte, who will have just turned two. In fact, she will be Pippa’s bridesmaid, and elder brother Prince George will be pageboy.
G is for guests, of whom there will be at least 350, but, apart from the small royal contingent, few famous faces.
The “Piparettes” – the gang of close girlfriends whom she’s known for years – will be out in force. They include Alice St John Webster, once Pippa’s tennis partner at Marlborough and now a teacher married to Frenchman Gerald Avenel. Another close pal from their Edinburgh University days is Camilla Campion-Awwad, a striking blonde.
Others include the Duke of Roxburghe’s son, Lord Ted Innes-Ker and his fiancee Celia Brook, plus the Duke of Northumberland’s son, Earl Percy, and his sister, Lady Melissa Percy, known as Missy, a fun-loving divorcee who is Pippa’s new tennis partner.
The groom’s business partner, Edward Horner, will be there with his wife, the former
Tatler society writer Lady Emily Compton, daughter of the Marquess of Northampton.
H is for hen-do – a discreet skiing minibreak in the French resort of Meribel with sister Kate and some friends last month. It took place on the same weekend that Prince William was notoriously spotted “daddancing” and chatting with a glamorous Australian blonde model in Verbier in Switzerland.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are believed to have flown out on the same private plane – paid for by Carole and Michael Middleton as a treat for Pippa – with their respective parties of friends.
Pippa, Kate and chums stayed in an exclusive chalet with maids and a chef, and were showered with gifts, including expensive Ugg boots and bespoke fragrances.
H is also for Hello! Sadly for the rest of us, Pippa rejected an offer to sell pictures of her big day to the magazine, though in the past she has featured, for a fee, in its glossy pages talking about marathon-running. (Brother James and black-sheep Uncle Gary have also appeared in Hello!.)
I is for in-laws. As is traditional, the bride’s family will pay for the wedding. On the other side are another self-made couple, Dave and Jane Matthews. He is the son of a miner and was a promising racing driver until he suffered a crash at Silverstone in 1973.
He then ran a coach company, before buying the run-down Eden Rock in 1995 and developing it into a prestigious Caribbean hotel, beloved of celebrities. Jane is the bohemian artist daughter of a Zimbabwean architect.
J is for Jo Milloy, the PR and marketing guru who has been spinning for the Beckhams for more than a decade, and has now been engaged by Pippa. Milloy, a formidable operator, has persuaded the world to take former Posh Spice Victoria seriously as a designer, winning over the upper echelons of the fashion world.
K is for Kenya, the destination tipped for James and Pippa’s honeymoon – no wonder, given the royal connections.
In 2010, it was while holidaying at a luxury safari camp on the 25,000ha Lewa Wildlife Conservancy near Mt Kenya that Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton.
And Kenya was where, in 1952, the young Princess Elizabeth learned that she was now Queen, following the premature death of her father.
L is for the Lake District where, after a year of serious dating, James Matthews proposed to Pippa last July while on a walking holiday, in the spectacular surroundings. He had first sought the approval of her parents. Pippa was apparently surprised – but delighted – and said “yes” right away.
M is for Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s actress girlfriend. Some say she’s coming, others she’s not. This week it was reported she had asked for time off from filming the US TV drama Suits in May.
N is for niece. Another of Pippa’s bridesmaids will be pretty Tallulah Goldsmith, 14, daughter of Uncle Gary (a fourtimes married self-made millionaire who is back into the family fold once more despite allegedly offering to provide drugs to an undercover journalist at his Ibiza party pad, Le Maison de Bang Bang).
O is for opulence all round. The Matthews family are extremely wealthy, with a stunning apartment in the multi-millionaires’ haven of Monaco in addition to their hotel. Meanwhile, groom James’s firm made just over $2.49 billion of profit, according to recently filed accounts. It has been suggested the Middletons are worth $50 million thanks to their online party supplies firm. However, because they are a partnership, there are no accounts available. A PR who has worked with them says: “The Middletons have money, but it’s not ‘do anything you want’ kind of money.”
P is for paying the bills. While tradition demands the bride’s family covers the cost of the wedding, there is a strict budget and a determination on Carole’s part to get value for money while not compromising quality. She is co-ordinating the day and it is believed that she auditioned several party planners before deciding that she wanted to do it all herself.
Q is, of course, for the Queen, who will not attend the wedding, despite having great affection for the Middletons. As ever, her diary is busy: on the Friday before the wedding, she has an official engagement, presenting new colours to the 1st Battalion and F Company Scots Guards at Buckingham Palace and Her Majesty will be attending the Chelsea Flower Show on the following Monday.
R is for the reception at Englefield House, an Elizabethan pile on a private estate, where there will be a formal drinks party in one of the state rooms immediately after the church ceremony. The house, which featured in films The King’s Speech and X Men: First Class, as well as The Crown TV series, is home to Tory MP Richard Benyon, a family friend. This gathering will be followed by a party with a sit-down supper in a marquee on the lawn of the Middleton family home, where the evening reception will be held.
S is for sister. Kate and Pippa are very close, but the Duchess will not take the matron of honour role to try to ensure that the focus is on her sister. Kate is expected to do a reading.
T is for title – Pippa will get one ... eventually. Dave Matthews is a self-made man, but after buying a 4050ha estate in Inverness-shire in 2008, he is also the Laird of Glen Affric. When he dies, as eldest son, James will become the Laird and Pippa will be styled Lady Glen Affric.
U is for ushers. Pippa’s younger brother James, who runs his own company, Boomf, selling printed marshmallows, will be an usher.
V is for vicar. Parish priest Nick WynneJones will officiate, but is determined to avoid the limelight. After buying a newspaper at the village shop, he said: “I’ve got work to do, so I can’t talk to you. Cheerio, goodbye.”
W is for wedding flowers. Pippa has been spotted in the upmarket Lavender Green florist in London’s Chelsea, which is said to have landed the contract to deck out the church, stately home and marquee.
X is for ex-lovers. Pippa’s three-year romance with stockbroker Nico Jackson was a tortured one. For two years, it was a long-distance affair with Jackson living and working in Geneva. They often managed only four or five days a month together. There were reports of commitment issues on his part.
Pippa also dated former England cricketer Alex Loudon, who was on her arm at the royal wedding in 2011. He ended their 18-month relationship shortly after, apparently “spooked” by media interest in her.
Y is for yoyo. Pippa and James are a yoyo couple who enjoyed a brief romance in 2012, before getting back together again in 2015 after she broke up with Jackson. However, they are believed to have first met as far back as 2007 on St Barths, which is when James decided that Pippa was “the one”.
Z is for zodiac. Pippa is a Virgo and James a Leo. So is their romance written in the stars? SAWeekend astrologer Oscar Cainer says: “Pippa’s Virgo poise and James’s Leo drama may not seem like a natural combination. But each provides something the other yearns for.
“And as Pippa’s Venus aligns with James’s sun, this isn’t just a match made in heaven, but one ordained in the stars. With Venus opposite Jupiter on May 20, their love can only continue to grow.”
1 Pippa’s $332,000 ring (Picture: Peter Jordan) 2 James Middleton and Spencer Matthews (Picture: Instagram) 3 Pippa follows sister Kate down the aisle (Picture: AP/Martin Meissner) 4 Donna Air 5 Eden Rock 6 Meghan Markle 7 James Matthews and Pippa (Picture Karwai Tang/WireImage) 8 Princess Charlotte (Picture: Stephen Lock/Getty) 9 Prince George (Picture: Andrew Milligan/Getty Images) 10 Michael and Carole Middleton (Picture: Oli Scarff/Getty)
11 St Marks Church (Picture: Anwar Hussein)