The not-quite-royal wed­ding: a guide to Pippa Mid­dle­ton’s not-as-big day

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - EL­IZ­A­BETH PA­TON

This Satur­day, the clos­est thing to a Bri­tish royal wed­ding for 2017 (un­less, of course, Prince Harry sud­denly pops the ques­tion to his new girl­friend) will take place in Berk­shire, Eng­land, when Pippa Mid­dle­ton — younger sis­ter of the Duchess of Cam­bridge, Bri­tain’s fu­ture queen — mar­ries James Matthews.

Ever since her star turn as brides­maid at the royal wed­ding in 2011, where her charm­ing man­ners and sheathed der­rière pro­pelled her into the spot­light, the pri­vate life and mat­ri­mo­nial prospects for Mid­dle­ton, 33, a bud­ding nu­tri­tion­ist and one-time Van­ity Fair colum­nist, have been a sub­ject of in­tense fas­ci­na­tion by the global news me­dia.

Here is a primer of what and who to ex­pect on the big day. Whom is she mar­ry­ing? Matthews, 41, is a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire hedge fund man­ager who is as low-key as his bom­bas­tic younger brother, Spencer Matthews, star of the Bri­tish re­al­ity TV show “Made in Chelsea,” is con­spic­u­ous.

James Matthews is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Eden Rock Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment Group in Lon­don, which he named af­ter his par­ents’ lav­ish Caribbean re­sort, Eden Rock, in St. Barts. His fa­ther, the York­shire­man David Matthews, started out as a rac­ing driver be­fore be­com­ing a self-made mul­ti­mil­lion­aire in a se­ries of car deal­er­ship deals and in prop­erty devel­op­ment. His mother is Jane Parker, a Zim­babwe-born artist and one­time re­cep­tion­ist for Chris­tian Dior.

Along­side Spencer, James had an­other brother, Michael, who died in 1999 at 22 af­ter be­com­ing the youngest Bri­ton to reach the sum­mit of Mount Ever­est. He dis­ap­peared on the way down, and his body was never re­cov­ered. In his me­mory, the fam­ily cre­ated the Michael Matthews Foun­da­tion, which builds schools to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren in re­mote places.

James Matthews was ed­u­cated at Up­ping­ham School but did not go to col­lege, in­stead ini­tially fol­low­ing his fa­ther into mo­tor sports. He then en­tered a fi­nance ca­reer as a trader in Lon­don, be­fore set­ting up Eden Rock in 2001.

Matthews is a keen skier (so is Mid­dle­ton), an avid ten­nis fan and cy­clist (the be­trothed cou­ple have com­peted to­gether in a char­ity bike ride from Lon­don to Brighton). How did they meet? Mid­dle­ton has some his­tory with her mod­ern-day Prince Charm­ing. Af­ter meet­ing and be­com­ing friends when the Mid­dle­ton fam­ily went on va­ca­tion to Eden Rock more than a decade ago, the cou­ple re­port­edly dated for a short pe­riod in 2012 be­fore Mid­dle­ton em­barked on a three-year re­la­tion­ship with an­other fi­nancier, stockbroker Nico Jack­son. Mid­dle­ton has also dated bank­ing heir JJ Jar­dine Pater­son and former crick­eter Alex Loudon, but a ru­moured ro­mance with her sis­ter’s brother-in-law, Prince Harry, seems largely fic­tional — wish­ful think­ing by the Bri­tish tabloids.

In 2015, Matthews was back on the scene. Last June, less than a year af­ter rekin­dling their ro­mance, the two an­nounced their en­gage­ment af­ter a mini­break to the Lake District. Mid­dle­ton re­ceived a gi­gan­tic oc­tag­o­nal ring fea­tur­ing a three­carat Ass­cher-cut di­a­mond, un­der­stood to have been bought from the Lon­don jew­el­ers Robin­son Pel­ham and val­ued around 200,000 pounds (about $350,000 Cana­dian). Where is the wed­ding? It will be held at St. Mark’s, a 12th­cen­tury church on the pri­vate es­tate in En­gle­field, Berk­shire, just 10 kilo­me­tres from the quaint vil­lage of Buck­le­bury, where the bride grew up with her older sis­ter, Cather­ine, now the Duchess of Cam­bridge, and younger brother, James. A full re­vamp of the sprawl­ing es­tate on which the church sits has been un­der­way for the past week, with stone walls re­paired and gates painted in a re­gal gold leaf hue.

Af­ter the ser­vice, the new­ly­weds and their ex­pected 150 guests will then travel to Mid­dle­ton’s par­ents’ Buck­le­bury home for a mar­quee re­cep­tion. Ca­role and Michael Mid­dle­ton bought the Ge­or­gian Grade II-listed manor house, which has an 18-acre gar­den, in 2012.

De­tails around the event re­main strictly un­der wraps, although the wed­ding plan­ning app Bride­book has bro­ken down the es­ti­mated cost of the event, con­sid­er­ing a range of items such as a wet weath­er­proof mar­quee, drinks and floristry, cater­ing, se­cu­rity, por­taloos and en­ter­tain­ment: an eye-pop­ping 246,000 pounds (or roughly $433,000 Cdn), which is said to be about 15 times the av­er­age cost of a Bri­tish wed­ding. Given that guests have been in­structed to bring a sec­ond out­fit for the evening re­cep­tion, ex­pect af­ter-dark events to daz­zle. Whom is Mid­dle­ton wear­ing? A lead­ing con­tender is Bri­tish de­signer Giles Dea­con, known for his the­atri­cal cou­ture­like cre­ations, who was seen vis­it­ing Mid­dle­ton and her mother at home last year with sev­eral bulky dress bags. Other Bri­tish names in the ring in­clude Amanda Wake­ley and Jenny Pack­ham. The milliner and veil spe­cial­ist Stephen Jones was also spot­ted leav­ing the prop­erty last month.

Mid­dle­ton and the duchess have a sim­i­lar ap­proach to style, favour­ing el­e­gant, con­ser­va­tive pieces by Bri­tish la­bels that still show off their ath­letic physiques. In the fi­nal run-up to her mo­ment in the spot­light, Mid­dle­ton has re­port­edly been on an in­ten­sive three-month bridal boot camp with­yoga, Pi­lates, spin­ning, car­dio train­ing, dance and med­i­ta­tion classes, as well as spe­cially pre­pared meals. Who is in the wed­ding party? The Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge, of course, will over­see the star­ring roles of Prince Ge­orge, 3, as page boy, and Princess Char­lotte, 2, as brides­maid, as an­nounced by Kens­ing­ton Palace.

Mid­dle­ton’s brother, James, will at­tend with his girl­friend, TV pre­sen­ter Donna Air, as will Prince Harry and his other half, Amer­i­can ac­tress Meghan Markle, de­spite ru­mours of a “no ring, no bring” guest list pol­icy. The groom’s brother will be best man. Queen El­iz­a­beth II is not ex­pected to at­tend.

NEIL P. MOCKFORD, GETTY IM­AGES

The glass mar­quee at Mid­dle­ton’s par­ents’ Buck­le­bury home which will be used for the wed­ding re­cep­tion.

NEIL P. MOCKFORD, GETTY IM­AGES

St. Mark’s Church in En­gle­field, far left, where Pippa Mid­dle­ton and James Matthew are plan­ning on get­ting mar­ried on Satur­day.

AN­DREW TESTA, NYT

Mid­dle­ton, left, served as brides­maid at the April 2011 wed­ding of her sis­ter to Prince Wil­liam, at West­min­ster Abbey in Lon­don.

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