The news that Pippa Middleton has officially separated from her boyfriend of over three years, British stockbroker Nico Jackson, has been greeted with great sympathy but little surprise by friends of the Middleton sisters, who have felt for some time that the relationship couldn’t last.
“It’s just completely impossible to date that poor girl,” one friend tells The Daily Beast. “Nobody wants to go out with her because you will just end up getting pursued by the press. It’s a complete nightmare for her.
“She has all the disadvantages of being a royal, but none of the protection that her sister gets. None of her crowd are prepared to take that pressure on.”
Nico is from a very private, unassuming Kent family of shopkeepers, far removed from the aspiration, glitz, and glam of the Middleton set.
Nico found having his photograph in the paper every time he went out for dinner embarrassing, and bad for his credibility when he worked in the City.
However, he loved Pippa and wanted to make the relationship work. His desire to do just that, and also to escape the attentions of the British press, was a significant factor in his decision to move to Switzerland last year.
Both he and Pippa hoped it might provide a way for them to have some semblance of normality in his life while continuing to date one of the most famous-for-being-famous young women in the U.K.
Unfortunately for both of them, the relationship with Pippa, with whom Nico shared a love of skiing and extreme sports, has turned out to be completely unsustainable.
The two broke up this week, at Pippa’s suggestion, according to a report in the Daily Mail. However, the paper claimed that when she suggested a breakup to Nico, “Pippa had suspected he might react with a grand gesture to win her back—like a marriage proposal.
“Instead, Nico surprised her by accepting all too swiftly that the relationship had indeed ‘run its course’ and walked away, flying back to the Geneva flat he has called home for almost two years. Pippa was left behind, broken-hearted.”
In the short term, at least, it seems likely that Pippa, now 32, will throw herself into her career, focusing on her upcoming relaunch as a diet and health expert, having recently completed a course in nutrition.
Her first book, Celebrate, a party planning manual, failed to inspire, but she still wants to write another book, this time more focused around healthy living, diet, sport, and exercise.
Ultimately, this is the reason why no new deal has yet been signed.
Publishers are understandably cautious about throwing too much money at Pippa again.
“It’s a very crowded field and it’s very hard to sell a book like that without a clear sense of who the author is, and we just don’t have that clear sense of who Pippa is,” said a British literary agent. “Everyone in the industry knows that Clarence House were a nightmare to deal with the last time round, and there’s limited enthusiasm to have another go.”
Celebrate publishers Penguin were enormously annoyed when the royals effectively banned Pippa from doing any interviews to promote the book, which more or less killed its chances of becoming a best seller.
However, there is an argument to be made that not getting a new book deal might be the best thing that could happen to Pippa, as it might just force her to go back to something she actually was really good at, according to colleagues and peers in the industry: party planning.
Pippa’s greatest fear, and one often expressed to friends, is epitomized by the fate of Sarah Ferguson.
“She often says, ‘I don’t want to end up like Fergie,’” says one friend.
And yet Pippa’s smartest move may now be to emulate Fergie—by moving to America and starting to work, hustle and sell herself.
This option could look increasingly attractive after the recent breakup with Nico.
Indeed, Pippa’s reluctance to move to America—because of her relationship with Nico—was a contributory factor behind NBC’s decision not to hire her as a special correspondent, despite auditioning her for the role.
But if she really doesn’t want to live out her days earning a crust simply by trading off her association with royalty, moving to America would allow her a completely fresh start in business.
It seems unlikely the palace will ever agree to Pippa having any kind of public profile—but it’s equally hard to imagine an events business operated by the future Queen of England’s sister in New York or LA struggling for clients.