Latest Update on Pippa Middleton Wedding. Pippa maid of honour no more

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One day historical novelists will look back on the later years of the second Elizabethan age and have huge fun weaving blockbuster narratives around the marriages of the Middleton sisters.

Readers unfamiliar with the period will learn that one daughter married into a world of wealth, privilege and ancient titles. Her husband was the sensible oldest son, whose rascally brother was famous for his glamorous girlfriends and mischief-making. The family enjoyed fabulous homes, a Highlands estate and a lifestyle of shooting weekends and luxurious holidays in exclusive ski resorts and Caribbean hideaways.

Pippa Middleton Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
Pippa Middleton Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Then some future Philippa Gregory will turn her attention to the other Middleton girl, the one who wed a future king and became the Duchess of Cambridge.

Let us return to the present, where Pippa Middleton, so famously the maid of honour when her bottom almost stole the show at her sister Kate’s nuptials in 2011, is preparing for her wedding on Saturday. She is marrying James Matthews, a wealthy investment manager who is as discreet as his younger brother, the reality TV regular Spencer, is noisily conspicuous.

The wedding of the rear — sorry, year! year! — will be at St Mark’s church on a private estate in Englefield, Berkshire, a few miles from Bucklebury where the Middleton girls and their brother (another James) grew up. The reception will be at the manor house in the village that Carole and Michael bought in 2012 with a chunk of the fortune they accrued through their party supplies business.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will, of course, be there, overseeing the starring roles of Prince George, three, and Princess Charlotte, two, as page boy and bridesmaid. Prince Harry will also be there, and his girlfriend, the American actress Meghan Markle, is expected to attend, with the odds shortening on her taking the role of upstager-in-waiting on this occasion.

Pippa Middleton Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
Pippa Middleton Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

In the absence of a real royal wedding in the immediate future (get on with it, Harry) this union of a royal-once-removed and her wealthy fiancé will be gazetted as the high society wedding of the year. Indeed it is such a hot ticket that Pippa has recruited the PR guru to proper royalty. Jo Milloy, who burnishes the images of David and Victoria Beckham, has been engaged to help the day run smoothly.

However much the royal gossip-spinners once tried to create a story of chemistry between Pippa and Prince Harry, Pippa, 33, never seems to have come close to bagging herself an actual prince. Yet in the Matthews clan she has found a family who enjoy many of the same leisure pursuits as the Windsors and who have a story with many similarities to that of the Middletons, another recently self-made family who relish the trappings of the new aristocracy.

James Matthews (R) with brother Spencer, parents David and Jane and step-sister Nina with her partner and four children. Picture: Eden Rock, St Bart’s.
James Matthews (R) with brother Spencer, parents David and Jane and step-sister Nina with her partner and four children. Picture: Eden Rock, St Bart’s.
James Matthews, 41, is the son of David and Jane Matthews, the owners of Eden Rock, a hotel in St Barts in the Caribbean that is favoured by a long list of celebrities — Roman Abramovich, Beyoncé, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Elton John — and compilers of world’s best hotels lists.

David Matthews’s success story began in Yorkshire. Like his future daughter-in-law’s mother, Carole Middleton, he came from mining stock. Her great-grandfather was a miner and David’s father worked in the coal industry and then a garage near Rotherham, where David started as an apprentice mechanic before selling cars door-to-door in the back streets of Rotherham and Sheffield.

The young man became a promising racing driver until being involved in an accident at Silverstone in which another driver died and David suffered an eye injury that ended his career. He went on to make a fortune in motor dealerships and luxury coach-making and eventually in the early 1990s moved into property development.

David, 73, was married first to Anita Taylor, a racing driver, with whom he had a daughter, Nina, who is close to her half-brothers and has four children of her own. His second wife, Jane, is the glamorous daughter of a Harare architect. Voted carnival queen at Rhodes University, she graduated in fine art and won a scholarship to study in Holland. On the way she stopped in London and stayed.

She worked as a receptionist at Christian Dior and met David after he spotted her picture in his sister-in-law’s university yearbook and tracked her down. Their marriage at a register office in Rotherham was low-key, with David going back to work after one post-ceremony glass of champagne.

The couple had three sons. James and Michael were just 18 months apart and Spencer is the baby, 14 years younger than James. As David prospered they moved to Caunton Manor, an 18th-century house on an estate in Nottinghamshire. Here the boys had to do chores for their pocket money, but also enjoyed a pool beneath a dance floor and driving go-carts around roads in the grounds.

James, who was educated at Uppingham School but did not go to university, followed his father into motorsport. In 1994 he won the British Formula Renault championship, a competition that gave many top Formula One drivers their start. Eventually, however, he decided to pursue a career in the City. At one stage James and brother Michael had adjoining desks at a derivative trader.

By the early 1990s David Matthews, nicknamed “the Band” by his children after the American group Dave Matthews Band, was looking for new challenges. He, Jane and Spencer lived in Paris for a while and would later make Monaco their base. Then on a trip to St Barts they stayed at Eden Rock, once a favoured bolt-hole of Greta Garbo’s, but by then in a state of decay. The family fell in love and bought the property that sat atop a rocky outcrop overlooking a beautiful sandy bay.

Eden Rock is one of the most exclusive hotels in the world.
Eden Rock is one of the most exclusive hotels in the world.
They survived a battering from a major hurricane shortly after they moved there in 1995 and began a years-long process of developing and expanding the hotel into one of the Caribbean’s most exclusive destinations, a place of barefoot luxury where P Diddy felt relaxed enough to teach young Spencer to play backgammon and Mariah Carey gave him a birthday kiss.

The French-speaking island of Saint Barthélemy is only ten square miles and has remained free of mass tourism because there isn’t anywhere to build a runway capable of accommodating large jets. Visitors can lie on the beach at Eden Rock watching 12-seater planes and private jets bringing their friends in to join the party.

David once said that living in St Barts and building the hotel made him feel “truly alive in a way that I didn’t back home. Perhaps life there was too comfortable, too provincial.” He described waking each morning and reading for two hours overlooking the sea. “I think of the way my life is today and the way it would be if I hadn’t taken a chance.”

The hotel is full of family photographs and paintings lending it an air of informality that belies its priciness. Many love it, but not all are convinced. “A lot of rich, partying Americans. Very thin, very glossy women with their banker husbands,” says one visitor. “The interior design isn’t great: a lot of varnished wood and not very good paintings. There are more tasteful hotels on the island. But it is a pretty amazing beach.”

Pippa Middleton Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
Pippa Middleton Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

The sense of adventure that led to David moving the family to the Caribbean is in the genes. Michael proved to be a highly accomplished climber who set his sights on Everest. In 1999 he became, at 22, the youngest Briton to reach the summit, but vanished on the way down. His body has never been recovered and exactly what happened on the descent has not been established, despite years of investigation by David, who described his son, in a poignant letter to The Times after he disappeared, as “a particularly determined young Englishman”.

The family set up the Michael Matthews Foundation, which raises money to build schools round the world. James has taken part in a number of endurance challenges to raise money, including running the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara and a marathon at the North Pole. He and Pippa were part of a team that cycled across America in 2014.

After his early motor racing successes James decided to concentrate on his City career. In 2001 he set up Eden Rock Capital Management, an investment advisory firm that invests its own money and advises clients including pension funds and individuals. It lists among its specialities investment in private equity funds and hedge funds.

Profits have dipped since the financial crisis. In 2006 the firm’s three members, including James, divided a payout of £5.2 million. In 2015 (the last year for which accounts are publicly available) the trio divided £1.55 million. In 2014 James bought a £17 million stuccoed house in Chelsea with a mortgage from HSBC Private Bank.

James is very private, but Spencer has disclosed that their parents believe their children should make their own way in the world. “My parents provided good schools and homes, but brought us up in the knowledge that they weren’t going to leave us trust funds or vast inheritances,” he said. “The Band is of the opinion that such promises can spoil a child and diminish their natural desire to succeed themselves, making them lazy and out of touch with reality.”

Spencer, 27, who reportedly will be best man on Saturday, knows a lot about a very particular sort of reality. Educated at Eton and the University of Southern California (he dropped out after a year), he had a short spell in the City before finding that promoting nightclubs was more to his taste and that the world of reality TV was his natural habitat.

On Made in Chelsea he was the boastful, sexually incontinent villain viewers loved to hate. In The Bachelor he was the central character, the man whose favour 24 women competed for. He was asked to leave I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! after he admitted using steroids to bulk up.

Pippa Middleton Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
Pippa Middleton Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES-0208.

Spencer is the headline-grabbing younger brother, but to say he is Prince Harry to James’s Prince William is a little unfair on Harry, who may have indulged in plenty of youthful high jinks, but has a rather less rapacious approach to the opposite sex. At the venerable age of 24 Spencer produced an autobiography that included accounts of an orgy and a laddish competition to see who could sleep with the most women, along with stories of cocaine-snorting and acid-dropping. He once bragged that he had slept with 1,000 women, but later, perhaps realising that even by his standards that was pushing it, retracted his claim.

In his book he admitted that his parents often disapprove of the way he behaves, but support him and “do what they can to urge me back in the right direction”. He also hinted that beneath the boorish exterior there lurks a more confused person. “I’m not such a huge fan of myself — and maybe because of this I sometimes try to prove to my subconscious that I am attractive by chasing after girls when I shouldn’t.” It is unclear if Vogue Williams, the model who is his latest girlfriend, has been invited to the wedding.

Spencer wrote that as a boy he wanted “Nina’s heart of gold, Michael’s general character and James’s girlfriends. Although both my brothers had good taste in women, James was always the pickiest of the two. He had some absolutely incredible girlfriends.”

James and Pippa first met when the Middleton family holidayed on St Barts several years ago. They dated briefly in 2012 and apparently got together again after Pippa broke up with the stockbroker Nico Jackson. She moved into the Chelsea house last year and he proposed in June during a trip to the Lake District.

Pippa Middleton Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
Pippa Middleton Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Where will they honeymoon? Eden Rock might be too vulnerable to paparazzi on motor yachts. One option might be Glen Affric, the Matthews family’s glorious Scottish estate. The property has its own loch full of trout and a Victorian hunting lodge built by the first Lord Tweedmouth, a Liberal MP who was said to have bred the first golden retrievers on the estate.

The house has been expensively refurbished and is let out to hunting parties wishing to enjoy its splendid 10,000 acres. That may not be a patch on Balmoral’s 50,000 acres, but Glen Affric is regarded as a particularly beautiful estate and it comes with a title: Laird of Glen Affric. The prospect of photographers stalking in the hills might be off-putting to Pippa, but she might enjoy spending the start of her married life playing at being Lady Glen Affric.

The Times

Source: theaustralian com au, THE TIMES

Tags: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Pippa Middleton, Pippa, Middleton, Pippa Wedding, Wedding, Wed, Marriage

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