The not-quite-royal wedding: a guide to Pippa Middleton’s not-as-big day
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.
The glass marquee at Middleton’s parents’ Bucklebury home which will be used for the wedding reception.
St. Mark’s Church in Englefield, far left, where Pippa Middleton and James Matthew are planning on getting married on Saturday.
Middleton, left, served as bridesmaid at the April 2011 wedding of her sister to Prince William, at Westminster Abbey in London.