Carole Middleton has long had a reputation for being ‘pushy’. Like many self-made millionaires, she’s a woman, one is often told, who knows what she wants and likes to get her way.
And, at the moment, what she appears to want is a double Duchess situation for her daughters.
Carole is, of course, as delighted as any mother would be that one of her daughters, Kate, is now the happily-married Duchess of Cambridge and will be Queen one day. Now, however, persistent gossip that she would like Pippa to enter the brotherhood of the British aristocracy too, and hook up with her old university roommate George, aka Earl Percy, has been given legs after Percy was spotted squiring Pippa around the Alps, apparently as a guest of a skiing party organised and reportedly paid for by the Middleton parents.
While her daughter has a half-million dollar book deal detailing how to throw a good party, Carol might want to think about penning a tome of her own; something like, “How To Marry Off One’s Daughters Well,” perhaps. Judging by her current form, it would be a runaway bestseller.
For although Pippa insists she and George are ‘just good friends’ and has repeatedly let it be known to her friends that she ‘doesn’t fancy’ George, and others tell the Royalist that there is ‘no chemistry’ between the two (‘at least, not for now’ says another, somewhat mischeivously), her mum is very, very keen on him.
News of Percy joining Pippa on the slopes comes in a report by the Daily Express’s royal reporter, Richard Palmer. Palmer writes: “Earl Percy, 27, has been spotted on the slopes of Meribel and Courchevel, the adjoining resorts that form part of the chic Three Valleys resort in the French Alps, skiing with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and members of the Middleton family in the past few days. ‘They all seem to have been having a great time together,’ said one skier.”
While Pippa Middleton has long told friends that she is not romantically attracted to her old university flatmate George Percy, the scion of one of England’s oldest, richest and most noble families, that doesn’t seem to be stopping her mum from attempting to match-make the two singletons. She seated them next to each other at her New Year’s Eve Party. Carole’s latest offer was no doubt made all the more irresisitible to George, no doubt, by the knowledge that his old school chum William and his new missus, Kate, who just happen to be the future King and Queen of England, would be joining the party too.
But, let’s face it, who wouldn’t be tempted at the prospect of having Earl Percy, eldest son of ancient, noble, family who have been trusted confidants and allies of the monarchy for generations, as a son-in-law?
When it comes to eligible bachelors, he is probably the most eligible man in England; clever, affable, involved in the alternative-energy business and heir not just to a dukedom but also to a vast fortune calculated at some £300 million. The family home, Alnwick Castle (known to the world as the exterior of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films) is, after Windsor Castle, the second-largest inhabited castle in the U.K.
George is known locally, as scions of the family have been for centuries, as “the Prince of the North,” reflecting the fact that from Norman times onward, the Percy family effectively ruled a large chunk of Northern England.
Pippa and George met at Edinburgh University, a short hop from Northumberland and not far from St. Andrew’s, where William and Kate studied. There they shared a flat and hung out with a group of aristocratic undergraduates known as the "castle crew”: a privately educated set of privileged students who spent their weekends at country houses around the U.K. rather than remaining on campus. Some of the girls were known as “brown-sign hunters,” referring to the brown signs that point from highways to Britain’s stately homes.
In the years since they left university, Pippa and Percy have remained close friends, not least because Percy is a good friend of Prince William (the two went to Eton together) and is completely inside the young royals’ “circle of trust.” His sister, Melissa ‘Missy’ Percy, was the blonde spotted smoking a cigarette and talking to Harry outside a London nightclub recently.
If Pippa really did become Pippa Percy, Pippa would eventually become a Duchess herself when Percy inherits the title of Duke of Northumberland on his father’s demise.
Sixty years and hardly a slip.