A spokesperson at Arthur de Soultrait's fashion company, Vicomte A, said this morning that the gun the driver of Pippa Middleton’s car pointed at a photographer Saturday was a fake.
"It was not a real gun, it was just a stupid joke," said the spokesperson.
That will do little to assuage anger at the idiotic stunt in Paris, where a recent spate of high-profile shootings have rocked the country.
What was the driver- who has yet to be identified, although de Soultrait was in the back seat - thinking when he produced a very convincing-looking automatic pistol from the glovebox of his car, and pointed it at a photographer pursuing his car through the streets of Paris on Saturday?
And why did Pippa grin as he committed this idiotic act?
The charitable explanation is that it was a nervous reaction, or that the sister of future queen, Kate Middleton didn’t really realise what was going on.
Then again, maybe she thought it was funny.
The Paris police are now saying that all four of the people in the car could face arrest, and possibly, imprisonment for up to two years.
If Pippa is called in for questioning by the French police, which seems a distinct possibility given public anger over the recent spate of high-profile shootings in France, the Gungate drama could completely overshadow the Diamond Jubilee celebrations taking place this year.
The shooter has yet to be identified, but, sitting in the back of the car, wearing a baseball cap, was Viscount Arthur de Soultrait, whose fancy dress party Pippa was attending in Paris. De Soultrait is an aristocratic fashion designer, and a friend of Pippa's (she previously stayed at his Paris apartment last May after attending the French Open). The party was on Friday night. These pictures were taken on Saturday as Pippa was driven to the Gare du Nord to get the Eurostar home.
Contacted this morning by the Daily Beast, Royal press officers refused to comment. They told the Royalist that Pippa is a ‘private individual’ and therefore not their responsibility.
Unbelievably, Palace press officers, who one might have assumed would be calmly preparing a humble written apology by Pippa to the people of Paris, and perhaps an expression of sympathy about the recent French shootings, and maybe a contribution to an appropriate charity, insist it’s nothing to do with them.
The Royalist wrote about the challenges that Pippa faces as being a sort-of-member of the Royal Family in early March - she is more famous than Kate in some parts of the world but has no protection as she is not an HRH. Remember when a truck driver, Erik Smedhs, came up to her and kissed her after a big cross-country ski race she did for charity in Sweden?
Of course then, one assumed the issue was stranger-danger, not unpredictable friends of her own choosing.
But this new incident highlights the challenges that Pippa faces as a public personality.
The Royalist’s view is that the Palace is being incredibly short-sighted not to bring Pippa into the fold officially, perhaps by making her a lady-in-waiting which was originally mooted, but was then quietly dropped on the grounds she would attract too much media attention. The Royal Family are (albeit indirectly) responsible for the fact that she is famous, and she should be given the same protection and advice that other Senior Royals are being given.
She is clearly more in need of protection than, say, Princess Eugenie, and she, and her bottom, have certainly done as much for the reinvigoration of the Royal brand as any HRH.
If Pippa does get arrested for this, which is a distinct possibility given public anger over the recent shootings in France, it will completely overshadow the Jubilee celebrations. Everyone in the car could face two years in jail, whether the gun is fake or real.
What a disaster for the Palace’s policy of ‘Pippa is nothing to do with us,’ that would be.
Sixty years and hardly a slip.