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!

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - UPFRONT - WORDS ALI­SON BOSHOFF

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)

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